What Is Ganja? Your Comprehensive Guide to Marijuana
Marijuana — often referred to as weed, pot, or ganja — is nothing new. But as this natural drug becomes more and more prevalent, many are curious about its intricacies. Learning about marijuana is not just a question about a substance but about its cultural, medicinal, and psychological complexities. So what is ganja, really, and what do we need to know about this increasingly accessible drug?
The Basics of Marijuana
Marijuana is a psychoactive drug derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. Users value this plant for its THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, a chemical compound responsible for calming and mind-altering effects. Often smoked or eaten, marijuana is used both recreationally for its euphoric experience and medicinally to relieve symptoms like chronic pain, nausea, and anxiety.
Marijuana typically appears as dried greenish-gray buds. However, its appearance can vary significantly. Some strains display a lush green, while others may have purple or reddish hues. The buds, which are the flowers of the female cannabis plant, contain trichomes — tiny, crystal-like structures where potent cannabinoids like THC and CBD are concentrated. These trichomes give buds a frosty appearance and are key to the plant's potency.
Classifying marijuana can be challenging as it exhibits a range of effects. While it's often labeled as a depressant due to its calming and sedative effects, it also has some qualities of stimulants and hallucinogens. For instance, it can elevate mood and increase heart rate, which are characteristic of stimulants, and alter perception like hallucinogens. These effects can vary based on the strain, THC/CBD ratios, and individual physiological factors.
Read More: Is Marijuana a Depressant?
Talking About Marijuana
With its long history, it should come as no surprise that marijuana has collected many aliases. For instance, the term ganja is of Hindi origin. Other common names for marijuana include weed, pot, herb, grass, Mary Jane, and countless others, reflecting its widespread use and impact. These names can vary regionally and often carry historical and cultural significance.
Why Do People Smoke Marijuana?
The reasons for marijuana use are as varied as its users. Recreationally, it's often sought for its relaxing and euphoric effects, making social gatherings more enjoyable or music and art more vivid. Medically, it's used to manage pain, alleviate anxiety and depression, stimulate appetite, and treat a variety of conditions. The psychoactive effects of THC can provide temporary relief from the stress and monotony of daily life, while CBD is sought for its therapeutic properties without the high.
The Signs of a Marijuana High
If someone has been using a marijuana product that includes THC, they’ll probably display some telltale symptoms and behaviors. Signs of being high on weed can include:
- Red, glassy eyes
- Delayed reaction times
- Increased appetite ("the munchies")
- Altered physical coordination
- Unusual talkativeness or laughter
What Is a Contact High?
Even if you aren’t typically a user of marijuana, it is possible to get a contact high by being in its proximity. A contact high, also known as secondhand high, is the phenomenon where a person experiences psychoactive effects by inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke from another person's use. This usually occurs in closed or poorly ventilated spaces where there's significant marijuana smoke. However, the extent of the psychoactive effects experienced through a contact high is typically much less intense compared to direct consumption, and in many cases, it might not be perceptible at all.
Read More: What Is a Contact High?
The Various Forms of Marijuana
While many people envision marijuana use through joints, pipes, vapes, or bongs, inhaling marijuana is far from the only way to consume this drug. Weed — and, crucially, its THC content — can be taken through various means.
Edibles are food products infused with marijuana. They range from baked goods like cookies and brownies to gummies and chocolates. Unlike smoking, edibles take longer to kick in but offer longer-lasting effects, as THC is metabolized differently when ingested.
Liquid marijuana includes tinctures — concentrated cannabis extracts taken orally or added to food — and cannabis-infused beverages. These forms offer an alternative to smoking, often preferred for their discretion and ease of dose control.
Marijuana tea, made by steeping marijuana leaves or buds in hot water, is a traditional consumption method that has been slowly gaining more modern attention. It provides a milder, more gradual effect and is often used for medicinal purposes.
Read More: Marijuana Tea: A Comprehensive Guide
Rather than using natural marijuana products, some users turn to synthetic cannabinoids. These lab-made chemicals mimic THC but can have unpredictable and dangerous effects. Brands like Spice or K2 are known but not recommended due to their potential health risks.
The Health Risks of Marijuana Use
Although marijuana is sometimes prescribed medicinally, there are also some health risks tied to the use of this drug — especially when smoked.
Excessive Weed Use
While a lethal overdose is unlikely, overconsumption of marijuana can lead to distressing psychological effects like extreme paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations. It’s important to use marijuana responsibly and be aware of your limits.
Read More: Can You Overdose on Marijuana?
Marijuana and Pregnancy
Using marijuana during pregnancy is advised against due to potential risks to fetal development. For example, studies suggest it may affect birth weight and have long-term developmental impacts on the child.
Marijuana and Mental Health
Heavy or high-potency marijuana use can exacerbate or contribute to mental health issues. It's been tied to depression and anxiety, plus linked to an increased risk of conditions like schizophrenia, especially in individuals with a predisposition to mental illness.
Marijuana and Drug Testing
While marijuana has been legalized in many jurisdictions, it’s not accepted everywhere. Moreover, certain jobs or organizations may prohibit its use, even in areas where weed is legal. As such, users should be aware of local regulations, workplace requirements, and how marijuana may play a role if they are subjected to a drug screen.
Weed’s Detection Window
If you’re facing a drug test where marijuana would be problematic, it may not be enough to take a temporary hiatus from the drug. THC can be detected in the body days or even weeks after use, depending on factors like frequency of use, body fat percentage, and individual metabolism.
Read More: How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?
Drug Testing and Medical Marijuana
Navigating drug tests can be challenging for medical marijuana users. While some states have protections for medical users, others do not. When in doubt, investigate local laws ahead of time, acquire any necessary documentation to support your prescription, and be prepared to explain the situation to the people requesting and proctoring your test.
Read More: Drug Testing and Medical Marijuana
CBD and Drug Testing
Pure CBD shouldn’t show up on a standard drug test, but full-spectrum CBD products might contain trace amounts of THC. As such, you may need to do a little digging on the content of your CBD or even skip the habit in the weeks before a drug screening.
Read More: Does CBD Show Up on Drug Tests?
Edibles and Drug Testing
Yes, edibles can show up in drug tests. In fact, THC can be detectable for a longer duration from edibles compared to smoking. So users who prefer consuming products like weed gummies, brownies, or even weed butter should be conscientious of how this consumption may impact upcoming drug tests.
Read More: Do Edibles Show Up in Drug Tests?
Can You Fail a Hair Drug Test from Secondhand Smoke?
Secondhand smoke exposure rarely results in a failed drug test, but in environments with heavy smoke over an extended period, it's not impossible.
Quitting Marijuana Use
Though weed is becoming accepted in many settings, that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Users may want to give up marijuana for any number of reasons, whether preparing for a new job, starting a family, prioritizing their mental health, trying to save money, or other personal motivations. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand and prepare for the challenges of going cold turkey.
Weed Addiction and Dependency
Weed doesn’t have the same intense physical dependency as other controlled substances like heroin or even alcohol. However, marijuana can lead to psychological dependence, especially with heavy use. Dependency risk is higher with strains containing high THC levels.
Read More: Is Weed Addictive?
Enacting a Marijuana Detox
Detox from marijuana involves allowing the body to rid itself of THC. Symptoms can include irritability, sleep disturbances, and cravings. Support from healthcare providers, counseling, and support groups can be beneficial in this process.
Read More: Your Guide to Marijuana Detox
Stay Informed with Countrywide Testing
Marijuana is a hot topic of cultural and legal debates. From its various forms to its effects and the risks involved, understanding the true nature of ganja is key to making informed decisions about its use, whether for recreational or medicinal purposes. Remember, knowledge is the ultimate power when it comes to your health.
If you have further questions about vape products or need guidance around addiction and safe substance use, Countrywide Testing has the answers you need. As an online retailer of reliable, on-site drug testing kits, Countrywide is dedicated to sharing helpful information on everything from specific medications and drug trends to resources for rehabilitation. When you need a partner on the road to safe substance use and a healthier lifestyle, Countrywide has your back.
Want more information on how Countrywide can support drug and medication safety? Just contact our team today.