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We live in a world where we can get almost anything a heart desires by simply ordering it online and having it delivered straight to our doors. Not so much for the legal cannabis industry, who – through no fault of their own – have had to engage in some workarounds to make purchasing a simpler and more convenient process for consumers.
For example, in legal states, many dispensaries will allow consumers to place orders online, then have it delivered by a third-party service like Eaze or Nugg. How consumers order and pick up cannabis is evolving every day, especially given the new reality of Covid-19. For the time being at least, dispensaries are being granted a little more latitude to keep consumers and workers safe by allowing people to order online or over the phone and pick up curbside. In the midst of such expansion, illegal delivery options (often with dangerous consequences) have expanded as well. How can you find legitimate delivery options? Read on as we explore buying weed online in the changing landscape.
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Photo of marijuana leaves.
Photo by NIDA
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC and other similar compounds. Extracts can also be made from the cannabis plant (see “Marijuana Extracts”).
Marijuana is the most commonly used addictive drug after tobacco and alcohol.1 Its use is widespread among young people. In 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults used marijuana in the past year.1 According to the Monitoring the Future survey, rates of past year marijuana use among middle and high school students have remained steady, but the number of teens in 8th and 10th grades who say they use it daily has increased. With the growing popularity of vaping devices, teens have started vaping THC (the ingredient in marijuana that produces the high), with nearly 4% of 12th graders saying they vape THC daily. In addition, the number of young people who believe regular marijuana use is risky is decreasing.2
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Legalization of marijuana for medical use or adult recreational use in a growing number of states may affect these views. Read more about marijuana as medicine in our DrugFacts: Marijuana as Medicine.
or example, a study from New Zealand conducted in part by researchers at Duke University showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing marijuana use disorder lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38. The lost mental abilities didn’t fully return in those who quit marijuana as adults. Those who started smoking marijuana as adults didn’t show notable IQ declines.5
In another recent study on twins, those who used marijuana showed a significant decline in general knowledge and in verbal ability (equivalent to 4 IQ points) between the preteen years and early adulthood, but no predictable difference was found between twins when one used marijuana and the other didn’t. This suggests that the IQ decline in marijuana users may be caused by something other than marijuana, such as shared familial factors (e.g., genetics, family environment).6 NIDA’s Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, a major longitudinal study, is tracking a large sample of young Americans from late childhood to early adulthood to help clarify how and to what extent marijuana and other substances, alone and in combination, affect adolescent brain development. Read more about the ABCD study on our Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD Study) webpage.
A Rise in Marijuana’s THC Levels
The amount of THC in marijuana has been increasing steadily over the past few decades.7 For a person who’s new to marijuana use, this may mean exposure to higher THC levels with a greater chance of a harmful reaction. Higher THC levels may explain the rise in emergency room visits involving marijuana use.
The popularity of edibles also increases the chance of harmful reactions. Edibles take longer to digest and produce a high. Therefore, people may consume more to feel the effects faster, leading to dangerous results.
Higher THC levels may also mean a greater risk for addiction if people are regularly exposing themselves to high doses.
What are the other health effects of marijuana?
Marijuana use may have a wide range of effects, both physical and mental.
Breathing problems. Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs, and people who smoke marijuana frequently can have the same breathing problems as those who smoke tobacco. These problems include daily cough and phlegm, more frequent lung illness, and a higher risk of lung infections. Researchers so far haven’t found a higher risk for lung cancer in people who smoke marijuana.8
Increased heart rate. Marijuana raises heart rate for up to 3 hours after smoking. This effect may increase the chance of heart attack. Older people and those with heart problems may be at higher risk.
Problems with child development during and after pregnancy.