Questions I’m Most Frequently Asked About Marijuana
By Laura Stack, Founder & CEO, Johnny’s Ambassadors
1. What is dabbing?
Inhaling the vapors from a heated marijuana concentrate such as wax, shatter, or crystalline.
2. Define a cannabinoid.
Cannabinoids are chemicals that occur in the cannabis plant. There are over 80 cannabinoids. Our bodies also produce natural cannabinoids called anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG).
3. What is the difference between THC and CBD, delta-8 and delta-9?
THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana that makes you feel high. CBD, or cannabidiol, is the 2nd most common cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, and it can’t get you high by itself. Unless a chemist synthesizes CBD from hemp and turns it into delta-8-THC or delta-10-THC, which ARE psychoactive.
4. How does marijuana make a user “high”?
The THC molecule is similar to the body’s natural endocannabinoid (anandamide), but on the bottom only (it’s called a partial agonist). THC enters the bloodstream and binds to CB1 (cannabinoid 1) and CB2 (cannabinoid 2) receptors throughout the brain and body and “tricks” the system into thinking it’s the real thing, thereby blocking the real thing. A decrease in anandamide causes anxiety, mood problems, and nervous system and immune system dysfunction.
5. What is the difference between cannabis and marijuana and hemp?
Cannabis is a genus of plant; marijuana is a species of cannabis that has greater than .03% THC; hemp is a species of cannabis that has less than .03% THC (delta 9). Delta 8, 9, and 10 can be derived from either marijuana or hemp.
6. What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system that uses anandamide and plays a role in regulating a range of nervous system and immune system functions and processes, including sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction, and fertility. The ECS exists and is active in your body even if you don’t use cannabis, but it is negatively impacted when it interacts with THC, because anandamide production is decreases. Suboptimal levels of anandamide can drain you of happiness, increase fear and anxiety, and rob you of the ability to cope with stress.
7. What’s the difference between flower and concentrate?
Flower refers to the plant (“weed” or “grass”). In concentrates, all THC is stripped out through solvents and laboratory processes, so the plant matter is discarded. Concentrates are chemicals, not plants, and there is nothing “natural” about them (they do not exist this way in nature).
8. What does potency mean?
Potency refers to the percentage of THC present in the particular marijuana product per gram (e.g., 20% in flower or 80% in dabs).
9. How many different ways can a user consume marijuana (what products)?
The number of marijuana products available today is staggering! They include flower, concentrates, edibles such as candy, drinks, and bakery goods, vape oils and distillates, tinctures (flavoring people put on or in food), tampons, suppositories, inhalants, drinks, and more.
10. How has marijuana changed since “Woodstock days” in the 70s, 80s, and 90s?
Until the 90s, marijuana averaged between 2-5% THC. Today, due to cultivation for higher and higher levels of THC and lower amounts of CBD, it’s nearly impossible to find marijuana flower in a dispensary lower than 10%, and many near 30%. THC is considered high potency for anything over 15% THC). Concentrates weren’t commercialized until after 2010 and range from 60% to 99% potency.
11. At what age does the brain’s frontal lobe, responsible for risk vs. reward decision making, fully develop?
Most scientists believe the female brain finishes forming at 25. Thanks to new research from London in 2019, the male brain can continue formation until 28 or 30.
12. How does marijuana affect the development of the human brain?
The brain forms back to front and bottom to top, with the last place to form in the prefrontal cortex (the adult brain). THC in the developing brain disrupts its normal development of Synaptogenesis (formation of synapse between neurons in the nervous system); Apoptosis (the controlled pruning of cells as a normal part of growth to allow specialization); and Myelination (the formation of sheaths around pathways to increase efficiency of transmission). MRIs show the cortices of youth who use marijuana before this process is complete have more thinning, meaning parts were pruned they might have wanted to keep.
13. Do you know the significance of 420 Day and 710 Day?
420 Day is a holiday celebrating marijuana. Users smoke marijuana at 4:20 PM on April 20. 710 Day is a holiday celebrating concentrates (on a calculator, 710 spells “OIL” when held upside down). Users dab at 7:10 PM on July 10.
14. What age should you begin educating your child about drugs?
As early as possible, in an age-appropriate fashion, starting at 5 years old, adding more information at 10, 13, 16, 18, and always.
15. What are some of the ways marijuana harms adolescents?
Marijuana dependence, decreased IQ, increased risk of addiction with higher potency, increased odds of using other drugs, death from throwing up, more likely to drop out of school, possible psychosis and schizophrenia, decreased fertility rate, lower motivation to do things, possible paranoid and thoughts that others intend to harm you, health damages, poor driving skills.
16. Name some potential negative health implications if your child uses marijuana.
Addiction, brain health, increased heart rate, mental illness, poisoning (especially ingesting edibles), increased risk of stroke and heart disease, Heavy cough, chemicals and tar that raise concerns about risk for cancer and lung disease, large airway inflammation, increased airway resistance, lung hyperinflation, chronic bronchitis, respiratory problems, reduction of respiratory system’s immune response, leading to lung infections such as pneumonia, EVALI leading to death, to name some.
17. At what age can a teen obtain a medical marijuana card in most states?
18 years old (by making up a non-specific diagnosis such as a migraine).
18. Is parental approval required to obtain a medical marijuana card if the child is under 21?
No! Anyone between 18-20 can legally buy marijuana from a medical marijuana dispensary with a medical marijuana card, even though they aren’t old enough buy recreationally at 21.
19. What is the #1 cause of death for youths aged 10-18 in Colorado?
Suicide. In 2018, over 36% of suicides in youth had THC in their toxicology reports.
20. Can marijuana increase the changes of youth suicidality? Chance of a psychotic disorder?
Using marijuana over 10% increases risk of suicide by 7-fold and risk of developing a psychotic disorder by 5-fold.
21. What two documents should parents have in place before their child leaves for college, so they can have greater control over their child’s medical decisions?
HIPPA and POA (Power of Attorney)
22. What are my rights as a parent?
If your child steals your belongings, you may call the police. If your child threatens or harms you, you may call the police. If your child has illegal drugs in your home, you can call the police. If you suspect your child is using THC, you have a right to give your child a drug test.
23. Does THC help with mental health issues?
“There is no current scientific evidence that cannabis is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. In contrast, current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development.” – American Psychiatric Association. Long-term, marijuana use causes increased anxiety, stress, and depression.
24. Can you die from throwing up from marijuana?
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is vomiting caused by high-potency THC. The only cure is to stop using. Vomiting can cause dehydration and renal failure. Common symptoms include mysterious stomach aches, taking frequent, hot showers, vomiting, and pain.
25. Is marijuana addictive?
Many people mistakenly believe marijuana isn’t addictive. In its new, high-potency formulas, it was added to the DSM-5 as “Cannabis Use Disorder” in 2013. According to the CDC, lifetime marijuana use is also the #1 predictor that teens will have abused opioids in the past 30 days.
26. What happens if I try to stop using marijuana if I’m addicted to it?
Cannabis withdrawal symptoms can include irritability, nausea, sweating, sleeplessness, low appetite, and anxiety. It is very difficult to stop using marijuana on your own, and the user often goes back when trying (addiction). Professional detox and residential treatment programs are generally recommended to help teens stop using.
27. Does marijuana lower dopamine levels in the brain?
THC, an active ingredient in cannabis, is known to block activity of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. This leads to a short-term increase in dopamine activity, resulting in a high. However, frequent or long-term cannabis use can cause the body to shut down dopamine receptors, lowering active dopamine levels for extended periods of time. Low dopamine levels are associated with serious mental and physical disorders, and can leave you feeling depressed and unable to take pleasure in your daily life.
28. Is there a recovery 12-step program for marijuana addiction?
Yes, Marijuana Anonymous. https://marijuana-anonymous.org