Marijuana, an interesting and controversial topic with a history of ignorance, is one of today’s most talked about subjects. Here are 30 random facts you may have not known about.
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- Marijuana is created from the dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the
hemp plant Cannabis sativa.
- 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.
- 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.
- After alcohol, marijuana is the most popular recreational or
mood-altering drug used worldwide.
- 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.
- According to one report, it would take 800 joints to kill a person—but
the cause of death would be carbon monoxide poisoning.
- 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.
- The international and scientific name for marijuana is cannabis.
However, the substance is most commonly called marijuana within the United
- 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.
- 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.
- The primary active ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta 9 tetrhydro
cannabinol). It is this chemical that produces marijuana’s mind-altering
- 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.
- 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.
- Cannabis seeds were used as a food source in China as early as 6000 B.C.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Paraguay is believed to be the world’s largest producer of marijuana.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In 2003, Canada became the first country in the world to offer medical
marijuana to pain-suffering patients. Learn more about Medicinal Marijuana Canada
- In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to legally allow medical
marijuana for patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation.
- 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.