Marijuana, as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stem and seeds of the Hemp plant scientifically known as Cannabis sativa. Medically marijuana is used to relieve pain in very sick patients or treat certain conditions without causing side effects. In the United States, twenty three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. However, the remaining states still have no access to medical marijuana because it remains illegal under federal law. Its prohibition also hinders research on medical marijuana. In Kenya marijuana is illegal and anyone found in possession of it is likely to face punishment under the law.

According to NACADA the current use of marijuana in Kenya is 1.2%



The cannabis plant contains cannabinoids which are the chemicals responsible for its mood altering effects. They include tetrahyddrocannabinol and cannabidiol which are the most common. There are other components found in the cannabis plant responsible for the plants physiological effects. The cannabinoids interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system-This is a complex system of receptors located through the body. The cannabinoids in cannabis attach themselves to these receptors causing the inpidual to feel the physiological effects of consuming cannabis. Cannabis is known by the following street names: Pot, weed, grass, gangster, blubbers, herb, reefe, hash oil, bhang, charas, hashish, skun and ganja.


Cannabis comes in three forms mainly

  • Marijuana-dried plant and is mostly smoked. It is the most common
  • Hashish-the dried plant resin that is usually mixed with tobacco and smoked. It is also added to food and baked in cookies or cakes
  • Hash oil-oil that is added to the tip of a cigarette and smoked



    Marijuana                                                                    Hashish                                                    Hash-oil

There are four main methods of marijuana ingestion.

  1. Oral-These refers to any form of the drug that is ingested they include capsules(taken for medical purposes to reduce chronic pain under medical supervision by an authorized specialist), marijuana tincture(contains mainly organic ingredients), weed cookies, cakes, muffins and even chocolates among other products.
  2. Inhalation-Absorbed through the nasal cavity.
  3. Sublingual-the drug is absorbed into the body through tissues under the tongue
  4. Topical-absorbed through the skin.


               Weed cookie                                                   Marijuana tincture                                  Capsule form


                        Sublingual marijuana                             Topical cream

With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, companies have gone creative to meet the high demand. According to the Huffington post recreational marijuana sales that came out of 37 new dispensaries in Colorado exceeded $ 5 million in the first week of legalization. Sales were so high that the number of products each person could buy had to be rationed.




Above are just but a few products infused with THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) the mind altering ingredient found in marijuana.


NB: It takes about an hour to feel the effects of orally ingested cannabis, unlike smoking which is immediate. However smoking causes very dangerous effects like the risk of cancer and respiratory problems.



Short-term effects

  • Impaired memory. This happnes when cannabinoids receptors in the hippocamlius (region linked to memory formation) are activated interfering with the process that is responsible for communication between neurons.
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Disrupted motor control
  • Stoked appetite especially for the sweet foods
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Altered sleep
  • Reduced pain
  • When in the body cannabis causes a sense of pleasant feeling characterized by a sense of happiness, relaxation, sleepiness and colors may appear brighter and music sounds better. This is what cannabis users refer when they say they are high
  • It also may cause unpleasant feelings. This happens when excessively high amounts are consumed causing increased anxiety. The indivdual may experience confusion, hallucinations, and paranoia depending on mood and circumstance of user


Long-term effects

  • Smoking weed increases the risk of respiratory illness such as asthma and emphysema. The risk of getting cancer is also increased when it is smoked together with tobacco
  • Poorer motor skills. It lowers coordination motor skills and reaction time as a result causing poor performance
  • Affects concentration and memory causing individuals to feel less motivated when it comes to dealing with personal responsibilities
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Financial, work and social problems
  • Memory loss
  • High dependence on cannabis;
  • Increase in dosage so as to achieve similar results, as the body becomes more and more tolerant to the drug
  • Learning difficulties
  • Withdrawal Symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Restless sleep and nightmares
  • Loss of appetite and stomach upset
  • Craving for cannabis
  • Aggressive and angry behavior
  • Sweatiness
  • Shakiness
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headaches


Treatment options

Currently, there are no fully approved medication treatments for this kind of addiction. Research is actively continuing to try and find medications. However, this does not mean that the habit cannot be dealt with. There are a number of behavioral treatments

Cognitive-behavioral therapy-Individuals are taught strategies on how to identify problematic behavior so as to increase self-control, and deal with ending drug use along with other issues surrounding the same.

Contingency management- This is an approach that involves monitoring the behavior of the individual. Positive behavior (which in this case is withdrawal from the drug) is rewarded or removed in case of negative behavior.

Motivational enhancement therapy- It is a form of treatment that aims at mobilizing an individual’s internal resources for treatment and change. 



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