The information below is from the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
What is cannabis?
"Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indicaplant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC and other similar compounds. Extracts can also be made from the cannabis plant (see "Marijuana Extracts").
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Its use is widespread among young people. In 2015, more than 11 million young adults ages 18 to 25 used marijuana in the past year.1 According to the Monitoring the Future survey, rates of marijuana use among middle and high school students have dropped or leveled off in the past few years after several years of increase. However, the number of young people who believe regular marijuana use is risky is decreasing."
How do people use cannabis?
"People smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or in pipes or water pipes (bongs). They also smoke it in blunts—emptied cigars that have been partly or completely refilled with marijuana. To avoid inhaling smoke, some people are using vaporizers. These devices pull the active ingredients (including THC) from the marijuana and collect their vapor in a storage unit. A person then inhales the vapor, not the smoke. Some vaporizers use a liquid marijuana extract.
People can mix marijuana in food (edibles), such as brownies, cookies, or candy, or brew it as a tea. A newly popular method of use is smoking or eating different forms of THC-rich resins (see "Marijuana Extracts")."
- hash oil or honey oil—a gooey liquid
- wax or budder—a soft solid with a texture like lip balm
- shatter—a hard, amber-colored solid
These extracts can deliver extremely large amounts of THC to the body, and their use has sent some people to the emergency room. Another danger is in preparing these extracts, which usually involves butane (lighter fluid). A number of people have caused fires and explosions and have been seriously burned from using butane to make extracts at home."
Cannabis use can have mild to severe effects, depending on how it is consumed, how much someone smokes, and how frequently they smoke. Frequent cannabis use can lead to problem solving and memory issues, lower life and job satisfaction, and users can develop a substance use disorder.
Please see this resource below from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for more information on marijuana's short and long term effects, and how THC levels have greatly increased over time: Marijuana (Drug facts)
The overview term medical cannabis, does not refer to one specific type of cannabis that is medicine. It refers to using the whole plant or its extracts to treat pain and other conditions. This is an emerging field, and while patients have reported some positive effects in terms of pain control, it is not regulated by the FDA. The FDA ha approved two medicines that use cannabis extract, but have not approved smoking the plant for medical use. Several states have legalized or moved towards legalizing cannabis for medical use for a variety of chronic pain conditions. There is still much research that needs to be done to determine the effectiveness of medical cannabis and if there are any adverse health risks for patients.
How might cannabinoids be useful as medicine? (Excerpt from the National Institute of Drug Abuse website)
"Currently, the two main cannabinoids from the marijuana plant that are of medical interest are THC and CBD.
THC can increase appetite and reduce nausea. THC may also decrease pain, inflammation (swelling and redness), and muscle control problems.
Unlike THC, CBD is a cannabinoid that doesn't make people "high." These drugs aren't popular for recreational use because they aren't intoxicating. It may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions. The FDA approved a CBD-based liquid medication called Epidiolex® for the treatment of two forms of severe childhood epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Many researchers, including those funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are continuing to explore the possible uses of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids for medical treatment."
The landscape of cannabis legalization is changing rapidly, with many states moving to legalize medical, and now recreational cannabis. In 2019, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker legalized recreational cannabis use among those 21 and up, which went into effect in January. There are regulations around how much someone can possess at one time, and where they can use it. However, cannabis is still federally illegal, which means that universities, including Loyola, cannot allow students over 21 to use cannabis on campus. This also applies to medical cannabis. Please see LUC Cannabis Policies for more information on Loyola's specific policies around drug use. At Loyola, 20% of undergraduate students reported smoking cannabis in the last month. (National College Health Assessment, 2018).