What is marijuana?

Detectable amounts of THC may remain in the body for days or even weeks after use. Upon consumption of marijuana,

Marijuana, also known as weed, pot, or ganja, is a medicinal plant of the Cannabis family. It contains a psychoactive compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that has major intoxicating effects. The leaves, seeds, stems, or roots, are mainly used for intoxication purposes. Marijuana preparations are usually smoked in pipes, joints, or water pipes (bongs). Marijuana users also add it to food or brew it as a tea. Marijuana is the most abused substance in the United States. Approximately, 11.8 million young adults used marijuana in 2018.

What happens when you smoke marijuana?

Marijuana, when inhaled, exhibits short- and long-term effects on the brain.

Short-term effects

  • After smoking marijuana, THC passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, and it is carried to the brain and other organs. The effect is generally felt after 30 minutes to one hour. THC activates parts of the brain, which produce the primary psychoactive and the intoxication effects. Other effects felt are:

Long-term effects result in some permanent changes to the brain, such as losing mental abilities and functioning.

Other physical changes are:

How long does marijuana/weed stay in your system?

Detectable amounts of THC may remain in the body for days or even weeks after use. Upon consumption of marijuana, THC is absorbed and stored by various body tissues and organs. The drug is primarily broken down by the liver. The by-products formed by the breakdown are immediately cleared via urine. However, THC stored in the body tissue gets continuously released back into the bloodstream over time, where it continues to be broken down by the liver and cleared in urine until all of it is depleted from the body. In a chronic user, the excretion rate of THC through urine is less, so it builds up in the liver.

When will marijuana show up on a drug test?

Several tests are used to detect the presence of marijuana. They include:

  • Saliva test: A person can test positive for marijuana for up to 34 to 48 hours after the last marijuana use.
  • Urine test: Infrequent users test positive for one to three days, moderate users can test positive for 7 to 21 days and a heavy user can test positive for a month or longer after the last marijuana use.
  • Hair test:  Marijuana can be detected in a hair test for up to 90 days.
  • Blood test: Marijuana will be visible in a blood test for up to 36 hours.

What are the treatments for marijuana abuse and addiction?

Marijuana addiction is mostly treated in a rehabilitation center. Behavioral therapies that are effective in treating marijuana addiction are:

  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): Motivates the individual to give up a marijuana addiction.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Teaches the user to stop using the drugs and ways to avoid or manage other problems.
  • Contingency management (CM): Involves exchanging vouchers as a reward for not taking drugs.

Although medications may not be effective in treating addictions, some antidepressant medications may help with managing withdrawal symptoms and preventing relapses.


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Medically Reviewed on 6/23/2020
Medscape Medical Reference