Frequently asked questions about Marijuana
What is hemp?
Hemp is the Cannabis sativa plant which is cultivated mainly for its fibers and seeds. Compared to marijuana, hemp has very little THC (0.3 percent). The fibers are used to make yarn, rope, cord, string, twine, and canvas. It can also be used to make fabrics and bioplastics. The seeds are edible and can be made into milk. The oil in hemp seeds is used to make paint, soap, and varnishes.
What is marijuana?
Marijuana refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant that contain psychoactive or mind-altering compounds including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and non-psychoactive compounds known as cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD). THC is primarily produced by the resin in the leaves and buds of the female cannabis plant.
Why are there two spellings for marijuana (marihuana)?
“Marijuana” originated with Mexican Spanish where the “j” is pronounced with a “wh” sound. In 1937, however, the U.S. federal government passed the Marihuana Tax Act with the deliberate spelling of the word with an “h”, ostensibly to make pronunciation easier for non-Spanish speaking populations. Many states continue to use “marihuana” as they incorporated the 1937 tax act into their codes and have not changed it while other states are transitioning to simply calling it cannabis to avoid confusion.
How is marijuana normally used?
Marijuana is often used in a variety of different ways. The most common way is to smoke it as a cigarette (a joint), a cigar (a blunt) or in a pipe or water pipe (bongs). Using an electronic vaporizer to turn the marijuana into a mist (vaping) is also becoming very popular as an alternative way of smoking. Marijuana can be mixed into food such as brownies and eaten (“edibles”), brewed as tea, or administered sublingually (under the tongue). There are also those who smoke the oils, concentrates, or extracts which is known as dabbing. It can also be used in pain patches, topical sprays, or creams and as a suppository.
How is consuming marijuana edibles different from smoking marijuana?
Ingesting marijuana through edibles means that the THC is processed through the liver which converts the THC into a stronger form thus increasing the intensity of the high. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours after eating the edible to begin to feel the effects with full effects peaking within four hours. Smoking marijuana brings the drug directly into the lungs where it passes directly into the blood stream and then the brain. Effects are felt within seconds to minutes with full effects peaking at 30 minutes. Effects can last for up to six hours.
Common Gray Areas
Does marijuana have medical benefits?
Yes. Marijuana has been shown to help with pain, particularly chronic pain, and nerve pain. It also is a viable and useful alternative to long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) because it does not cause kidney or stomach irritation as well as opioids as it is not nearly as addictive, and a person cannot overdose on it. Medicinal marijuana can also help with loss of appetite, reduce inflammation, and can treat neurological disorders including epilepsy and spasticity due to its effects on the limbic system.
Is marijuana a gateway drug?
Perhaps. There is some evidence that marijuana use comes before the use of other illegal substances and addictions to those substances. Animal experiments have shown that marijuana primes the brain to produce an enhanced reaction to other drugs such as morphine. However, there is also significant evidence that many people who use marijuana do not graduate to more serious drugs. The question could also be one of “the chicken or the egg” in that people who are already at risk for drug-taking due to environmental or biological factors, they may turn to marijuana as it is easily obtainable, thus getting them started down the path to drug addiction.
Common Legal Questions
If marijuana is legal, am I allowed to grow it?
Usually not. One of the reasons that recreational marijuana has been legalized in many states is that the industry has agreed to be heavily regulated by the state in all areas from production to manufacturing to sales. Allowing individuals to grow marijuana side steps this regulatory scheme and increases the changes of illicit growing operations and lost tax revenue. Some states allow for medicinal marijuana patients to grow their own marijuana but there are usually significant restrictions on who can do so and how many plants they can have again to curb illicit growing and usage.
Can I purchase marijuana from another state?
It depends. If the state in which you are looking to purchase the marijuana has legalized recreational marijuana, then yes, you can provided you are of age (usually 21) and purchase no more than the allowed amount from a licensed dispensary. If you travel from a state in which recreational marijuana use and possession is not legal and purchase marijuana there, be very careful about bringing the marijuana back into the other state. Just because you purchased it legally in one state does not mean that you can possess or consume it legally in another state.
What is the difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana?
Recreational marijuana is used for nonmedical reasons, while medical marijuana is used to treat a specific medical condition. In some states, the difference is also one of legality where the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes that has been lawfully prescribed and dispensed is legal whereas the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes is illegal. In states that have legalized recreational marijuana, however, the amounts that can be possessed are still regulated and limited. At the federal level, marijuana is still considered an illegal substance for both medicinal and recreational purposes, but the enforcement of these laws has been specifically defunded by Congress which recognizes the rising popularity and approval of marijuana usage in the nation.
About Marijuana Taxes
How is marijuana usually taxed in the United States?
There is a mixture of taxation approaches amongst states which come down to either excise taxes based on sales price, the standard state and/or municipal sales tax based on sales price and/or gross receipts, and taxes based on weight or THC content. Many states employ a combination of excise and sales taxes while others tax based on weight.
Is Medical Marijuana always taxed?
No, but this is a state specific question. Most states either allow for limited taxation on medical marijuana or specifically prohibit taxation on medical marijuana in favor of higher taxation on recreational marijuana.