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THE BRAIN'S RESONSE TO MARIJUANA
Did you know that marijuana can cause some people to lose focus on events around them? It makes others more aware of their physical sensations, and it has still more effects on other people. All these different changes are caused by chemicals that affect the brain. More than 400 chemicals are in the average marijuana plant. When smoked, heat produces even more of them.
WHERE DOES MARIJUANA COME FROM?
Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant. Like all plants, it's sensitive to the environment where it grows. Different weather and soil conditions can change the amounts of the chemicals inside the plant. That means marijuana grown in a place like Hawaii might be chemically stronger than marijuana from Mexico, or vice-versa.
MARIJUANA INVADES THE BRAIN
How do chemicals in the marijuana change the way a person sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels things?
When someone uses marijuana, these chemicals travel through the bloodstream and quickly attach to special places on the brain are called receptors, because they receive information from other nerve cells and from chemicals. When a receptor receives information, it causes changes in the nerve cell. The chemical in marijuana that has a big impact on the brain is called THC--tetrahydrocannabinol. Scientists recently discovered that some areas in the brain have a lot of THC receptors, while others have very few or none. These clues are helping researchers figure out exactly how THC works in the brain.
One region of the brain hat contains a lot of THC receptors is the hippocampus, which processes memory. When THC attaches to receptors in the hippocampus, it weakens short-term memory. The hippocampus, also communicates with other brain regions that process new information into long-term memory. In the brain, under the influence of marijuana, new information may never register--and may be lost from memory.
Maybe you've heard that is some people, marijuana can cause uncontrollable laughter one minute and paranoia the next. That's because the THC also influences emotions, probably by acting on one region of the brain called the limbic system.