is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United
States. A dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers,
stems, seeds, and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis
sativa, it usually is smoked as a cigarette (joint,
nail), or in a pipe (bong). It also is smoked in blunts,
which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and
refilled with marijuana, often in combination with
another drug. It might also be mixed in food or brewed
as a tea. As a more concentrated, resinous form it is
called hashish and, as a sticky black liquid, hash oil.
Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive, usually
sweet-and-sour odor. There are countless street terms
for marijuana including pot, herb, weed, grass, widow,
ganja, and hash, as well as terms derived from
trademarked varieties of cannabis, such as Bubble Gum,
Northern Lights, Fruity Juice, Afghani #1, and a number
of Skunk varieties.
The main active chemical in marijuana is THC
(delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The membranes of certain
nerve cells in the brain contain protein receptors that
bind to THC. Once securely in place, THC kicks off a
series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the
high that users experience when they smoke marijuana.