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The Effects of Marijuana Use:

Marijuana has a wide range of effects. These effects resemble those of stimulants such as amphetamines, hallucinogens such as LSD, and depressants such as alcohol. As a result, marijuana cannot be placed in any one class of drugs.

The most common way to use the drug is by smoking it in a marijuana cigarette. The experienced smoker of marijuana is usually aware of a drug effect after two or three inhalations. As smoking continues, the effects increase, reaching a peak about twenty minutes after the user stops smoking. Most effects of the drug usually disappear after three hours. At that point concentrations of THC in the body's plasma are low. When a user eats marijuana, peak effects may be delayed for three to four hours, but may then last for six to eight hours.

In the early stage of the marijuana high, the user may feel euphoria (intense well-being), uncontrollable laughter, alteration of one's sense of time, sharpened vision, and depersonalization (a sense that one is detached from one's environment, and is watching one- self from a distance). Because marijuana stimulates the appetite, users often feel hungry, and they report that food tastes especially satisfying or enjoyable. Later, the user becomes relaxed and experiences a dreamlike state. Thinking or concentrating becomes difficult, al- though by force of will the person can concentrate to some extent.

Two signs of marijuana intoxication are increased pulse rate and reddening of the whites of the eyes. Blood pressure may fall, especially when the user is in an upright position. The user may also feel a decrease in nausea, muscle weakness, tremors, unsteadiness, and increased reflexes (such as the knee jerk). At high doses, marijuana can impair performance of almost any task.

Heavy long-term users of marijuana can develop tolerance to some of the drug's effects. A mild withdrawal syndrome has been noted following very high doses.

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