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Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - Table of Contents

The National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Marihuana - A Signal of Misunderstanding.

Chapter II

marihuana use and its effects


Marihuana refers to a preparation derived from a plant, cannabis sativa L. The preparation contains varying quantities of the flowers and their resinous secretions, leaves, small stems and seeds. These plant parts contain many chemical substances. The chemical substance which produces the major drug effects is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). According to current information, the amount of THC present determines the potency of the preparation. Hereinafter, any reference to drug content or drug effect of marihuana will, for all practical purposes, mean that of tetrahydrocannabinol.

The drug content of the plant parts is variable, generally decreasing in the following sequence: resin, flowers, leaves. Practically no drug is found in the stems, roots or seeds. The potency and resulting drug effect of marihuana fluctuates, depending on the relative proportions of these plant parts in the marihuana mixture.

Most marihuana available in this country comes from Mexico and has a THC content of less than 1%. Marihuana of American origin often contains less than two-tenths of 1% THC. Marihuana originating in Jamaica and Southeast Asia often has a 2% to 4% THC content.

Marihuana is the least potent preparation of the plant. Jamaican ganja, containing primarily the flower tops and the small leaves or bracts, has a THC content of about 4% to 8% depending on the mixture. Indian ganja is less potent. The most potent preparation is hashish (charas) which is composed of only the drug-rich resinous secretions of the flowers. Generally, the THC content of hashish is 5 % to 12 %.




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