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Marijuana the crude drug made from the leaves and flowering tops of the cannabis sativa plant contains hundreds of active chemicals Of the 421 chemicals identified in the plant 70 are cannabinoids chemicals found only in the marijuana plant and nowhere else in nature Cannabinoids are stored in the fat parts of cell membranes for long periods of time and interfere with normal cell functioning Since the 70 annabinoids are fat-soluble they build up or accumulate in body tissue Three to seven days after using marijuana a 50 percent level of biochemical activity will remain in the cells It takes the body 20 to 30 days to metabolize or wash out the chemicals from the marijuana Some clinicians feel that it may take as much as six to 12 weeks of no marijuana use for the long-term heavy user to become free from the drug In one respect marijuana is similar to DDT and other pesticides which are also fat-soluble and build up in human tissue The marijuana plant is a complex and unpredictable chemical factory The amount of THC the major mind-altering chemical in marijuana produced in the plant leaves and flowering tops will vary from plant to plant even within the same plant and from hour to hour The marijuana used in the 1960s was quite low in THC content ranging from 25 percent to one percent Few health hazards were noted during that period In the 1970s the Mexican marijuana coming into the country averaged one percent to two percent THC The Mexican variety became the standard research material When research scientists tried to use marijuana that had THC levels over two percent they found too many side effects to feel safe in using it with human subjects After 1976 Colombian marijuana became prominent It ranged from three percent to five percent in THC Presently we have marijuana being grown in the United States that exceeds 20 percent THC levels An example
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