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Public opinion on the medical value of marijuana has been sharply divided Some dismiss medical marijuana as a hoax that exploits our natural compassion for the sick others claim it is a uniquely soothing medicine that has been kept away from patients through regulations based on false claims Scientific data on controversial subjects are commonly misinterpreted overinterpreted and misrepresented and the medical marijuana debate is no exception This report summarizes and analyzes what is known about the medical use of marijuana it emphasizes evidence-based as opposed to belief-based medicine One of the goals of this report is to help people to understand the scientific data including the logic behind the scientific conclusions Ideally this report will enable the thoughtful reader to interpret new information about marijuana that will continue to emerge in future Marijuana is a green brown or gray mixture of dried shredded leaves stems seeds and flowers of the hemp plant You may hear marijuana called by street names such as pot herb weed grass boom Mary Jane gangster or chronic There are more than 200 slang terms for marijuana Sinsemilla sin-seh-me-yah its a Spanish word hashish hash for short and hash oil are stronger forms of marijuana All forms of marijuana are mind-altering In other words they change how the brain works They all contain a substance called THC delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol which the main active chemical in marijuana They also contain more than 400 other chemicals Marijuanas effects on the user depend on the strength or potency of the THC it contains Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette called a joint or a nail or in a pipe or a bong Recently it has appeared in cigars called blunts Within a few minutes of inhaling marijuana smoke users likely experience dry mouth rapid heartbeat some loss of coordination and poor sense of balance and slower reaction times along with intoxication Blood vessels in the eye expand For some people marijuana
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