What is Marijuana?

marijuana-field-terroir-By Anton Watman
Photo by Anton Watman/ shutterstock

Marijuana is a commonly used term for cannabis, which is a plant whose flowers can be prepared or extracted to be used as medicine or as a psychoactive drug. Marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance in the United States but has recently become legal for medicinal or recreational use in many states throughout the country.

Though pharmaceutical research involving cannabis is just beginning in the US, medicinal cannabis use has skyrocketed and successful treatment stories are being reported throughout the country.

Marijuana has been grown and consumed for several millennia. It is and has been an important part of many civilizations and societies, used medicinally and ceremoniously for thousands of years.

Growing Marijuana

Marijuana can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Growing marijuana is illegal in most states, but laws are beginning to pass allowing for small-scale home growing in many places. It takes between 7-9 weeks to grow and harvest, depending on growing conditions.

Generally, once a marijuana plant has reached maturity, it is harvested and then dried for medicinal or recreational consumption. Marijuana flowers can also be extracted and processed to produce infused edible, drinkable, or trans-dermal products.

A marijuana plant grows relatively quickly. In the medicinal and recreational cannabis industries, growing conditions are optimized in order to maximize quality and yield. Important components of successful marijuana growth are proper nutrients, adequate light, a sufficient supply of carbon dioxide, and adequate ventilation.

Legalization of Marijuana

Nearly half of all American states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use. Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington DC have all legalized marijuana for some form of recreational use.

Many other states have marijuana legalization on upcoming ballots, or expect legislation in the near future. Several politicians have predicted that marijuana will be legalized throughout the United States in the next decade.

Many countries throughout the world are also experimenting with Marijuana legalization or decriminalization. Marijuana is currently completely legal country-wide only in Uruguay and North Korea.

Medical Uses

The cannabis plant is only just beginning to be properly utilized for its medicinal value, but results are already exciting. Cannabis has seen success in aiding the treatment of epilepsy, glaucoma, pain, nausea, anxiety, and a wide variety of other ailments or diseases.

In fact, medical marijuana has shown such positive results that many families in the United States have relocated to states with legalized medicinal marijuana for treatment. Because marijuana is still federally illegal, it is impossible for many families who do not live in progressive states to obtain medicine.

Some of the success stories regarding medical marijuana treatment are staggering. Many cancer patients have seen complete remission or reduction of tumor size from cannabis treatment.

Cannabis has also been remarkably effective in the treatment of epilepsy, particularly in children. Many children who try these treatments see a reduction in seizure volume from hundreds per day to one or two per month.