Marijuana refers to the dried-out leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The plant is a common weed that grows freely in most areas of the world. Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is also probably the most commonly used, abusable substance in the world, with the U.N. World Drug Report (1997) estimating 140 million daily users. It is most frequently smoked in small, hand-rolled cigarettes called "joints" (Schwartz, 2002). Alternatively, users employ regular pipes or water pipes called "bongs." The resin from the flowering tips, hashish, is more potent and may also be smoked (Abel, 1980). Marijuana can also be ingested; usually this occurs when it's baked into lipid-rich foods, such as brownies.
Peak popularity occurred in the late 1970s, then steadily declined until 1992. Since that time, marijuana's use has been on the rise, and whether its current level of use has reached a plateau phase is still a subject of debate. Marijuana has many purported uses; in recent years, the debate over its controversial role as a medicine has been revived.
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