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30 Random Facts about Marijuana

  1. Marijuana is created from the dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the
    hemp plant Cannabis sativa.
  2. Marijuana is the most common illegal drug used in the United States.
    Approximately 100 million Americans have tried marijuana at least once, and
    more than 25 million have smoked it in the last year.
  3. According to one national survey on drug use, each day approximately
    6,000 Americans try marijuana for the first time.Worldwide, it is estimated that about 162 million adults use marijuana at
    least once per year, and 22.5 million use the drug daily.
  4. After alcohol, marijuana is the most popular recreational or
    mood-altering drug used worldwide.
  5. Just under 40% of high school students in the U.S. report using
    marijuana at least once in their life, and 20% report using it regularly.
  6. According to one report, it would take 800 joints to kill a person—but
    the cause of death would be carbon monoxide poisoning.
  7. There are over 200 slang terms for marijuana in the popular vernacular.
    Some of the more common nicknames include pot, grass, weed, hash, and ganja.
  8. The international and scientific name for marijuana is cannabis.
    However, the substance is most commonly called marijuana within the United
  9. The name marijuana comes from a Mexican slang term for cannabis and is
    believed to have derived from the Spanish pronunciation of the names Mary
    and Jane. (The two names were also common Mexican military slang for a
    prostitute or brothel.) Marijuana came into popularity as a name for
    cannabis in the U.S. during the late 1800s.
  10. The cannabis plant can grow in nearly any environment and averages one
    to two inches of growth per day and up to 18 feet total in ideal conditions.
  11. The primary active ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta 9 tetrhydro
    cannabinol). It is this chemical that produces marijuana’s mind-altering
  12. The psychoactive side effects of THC in small doses include loss of
    inhibition, elation, and a distorted sense of time. The drug can also cause
    increased visual sensitivity and heightened imagination.
  13. Depending upon the weather conditions, soil type, and time of harvest
    for a cannabis plant, as well as the specific mixture of dried leaves and
    flowers in the marijuana product, a sample of marijuana can contain anywhere
    from 3% to 20% THC.
  14. Cannabis seeds were used as a food source in China as early as 6000 B.C.
  15. The first recorded use of marijuana as a medicinal drug occurred in 2737
    B.C. by Chinese emperor Shen Nung. The emperor documented the drug’s
    effectiveness in treating the pains of rheumatism and gout.
  16. The first law in the American colonies regarding marijuana was a 1619
    law that actually required farmers to grow the hemp plant. Once harvested,
    hemp was useful for clothing, sails, and rope.
  17. During the temperance movement of the 1890s, marijuana was commonly
    recommended as a substitute for alcohol. The reason for this was that use of
    marijuana did not lead to domestic violence while alcohol abuse did.
  18. Marijuana was first severely restricted as a recreational and medicinal
    drug in the U.S. by the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The law did not prohibit
    marijuana use but imposed such a heavy tax that legal sale and use became
    nearly impossible.
  19. In October of 1937, Samuel Caldwell was the first U.S. citizen arrested
    under the Marihuana Tax Act for selling marijuana without paying the newly
    mandated tax. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to four years of hard labor
    in Leavenworth.
  20. Prior to its ban, hemp was a staple cash crop of the family farm in
    early America. The first two drafts of the United States Declaration of
    Independence were written on paper made from hemp.
  21. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 made it illegal to possess, use,
    buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana in the United States. The law classifies
    marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse
    and no acceptable medical use.
  22. Marijuana production and trafficking make up the world’s largest drug
    market and the substance can be grown in almost every country. The United
    Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) has data on 172 countries and
    territories known to grow marijuana.
  23. Paraguay is believed to be the world’s largest producer of marijuana.
  24. According to the UNODC, there are several countries worldwide where
    greater than 8% of the population are said to use marijuana. Among those
    countries are the United States, Canada, England, Spain, France, South
    Africa, and New Zealand.
  25. In 2007, nearly 900,000 arrests for marijuana violations were made in
    the United States. Approximately 90% of offenders charged with
    marijuana-related crimes were arrested for possession only.
  26. From 1850 to 1942, marijuana was listed in the United States
    Pharmacopoeia as a useful medicine for nausea, rheumatism, and labor pains
    and was easily obtained at the local general store or pharmacy.
  27. Current supporters of medical marijuana believe the drug has significant
    medical value for patients who suffer from AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, multiple
    sclerosis, epilepsy, and chronic pain. Several studies have been published
    to support and document this belief.
  28. In 2003, Canada became the first country in the world to offer medical
    marijuana to pain-suffering patients.  Learn more about Medicinal Marijuana Canada
  29. In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to legally allow medical
    marijuana for patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation.
  30. While marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law, 13
    U.S. states currently have compassionate use laws in place, which allow for
    regulated medical marijuana use: AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MI, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI,
    VT, and WA. An additional 17 states and the District of Columbia have
    legislated to recognize the value of medical marijuana but do not protect
    users from federal prosecution.

a Abel, Ernest L. 1980. Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years. New
York, NY: Plenum Press.
b Booth, Martin. 2003. Cannabis: A History. London, England: Doubleday.
c Chapkis, Wendy and Richard Webb. 2008. Dying to Get High: Marijuana as
Medicine. New York, NY: New York University Press.
d Leggett, Ted. “Why Should We Care about Cannabis?” United Nations Office
on Drugs and Crime. Accessed: November 29, 2008.
e Robinson, Rowan. 1996. The Great Book of Hemp: The Complete Guide to the
Environmental, Commercial, and Medicinal Uses of the World’s Most
Extraordinary Plant. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
f U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Marijuana Facts & Figures.”
Accessed: February 10, 2009.
g World Drug Report 2008. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Accessed: December 2, 2008.


31 Random Facts about Marijuana

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