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Marijuana, also known as cannabis, weed, pot or a joint. No matter the term that is most familiar to you, this age-old plant has been known to many cultures and societies for centuries. Surprisingly, although only more recently used for its medicinal properties in the United States, cannabis has been used in countries like India for child birth pain, in ancient Greece for sores, nosebleed and tapeworms and in the medieval Islamic world for vomiting and fever. However, it was not until the 1600s that marijuana made its debut in the United States and is now legal for medicinal purposes in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

For a significant portion of the US population marijuana is used for recreational purposes and is considered illegal. For those who inhale or smoke marijuana its effects on the body takes place in a few minutes, peaking in less than fifteen minutes and lasts for about four hours. If cannabis is ingested orally an individual does not feel the effects for an hour with symptoms peaking in about two hours and lasting for about 6 hours.

Some of the negative effects felt include paranoia, impaired memory and altered motor function. But on the positive side marijuana can help with increasing appetite and pain management. Marinol, cesamet and sativex are just some of the synthetic forms of marijuana available for medical use.

Most states that have legalized Marijuana have seen a decrease in crimes associated with cannabis but an increase in vehicle accidents associated with motor vehicle operators who have used marijuana prior to driving.

Given marijuana’s negative effects on one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle, the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center has begun to look at ways that cannabis affects the brains of motor vehicle operators and as well, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently researching the development of a drug test for marijuana intoxication like those tests used for alcohol intoxication. This type of innovative technology is still years away. Until then it almost certain that there will be a segment of the population that see marijuana as the all good herb with medicinal properties and good for recreational use taking the user to the ultimate state of euphoria. While others will see it as a harmful drug responsible for motor vehicle accidents and criminal behavior. Whatever, the perspective, it is certain that Marijuana will have its place in modern society for centuries more to come.