*Disclaimer- after this blog was posted, recreational cannabis became legal in Maryland on July 1, 2023. Under the new law, adults 21 years and older can purchase and use recreational cannabis in the state of Maryland.*
Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a drug with a lot of nicknames: Mary Jane, weed, or pot – to name a few. It has been around for centuries, but both the plant and how it is used continues to change with time. The quality and concentration are also higher now than they were in the past. Below, we dive deeper into what you need to know about cannabis.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis refers to the dried flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant. It includes many compounds, such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD), which all act differently in the body. The amounts of the compounds can vary by plant. Cannabis has different effects for different people, which are influenced by previous use of the drug and how much of the drug is smoked, vaped, or consumed. Staff at the MPC have seen poisonings happen as a result of children and pets getting into edibles. Safe storage of these products can help prevent poisonings. Learn more about safe storage in a previous blog post.
How Does Cannabis Affect Your Body?
The THC component of cannabis is psychoactive. It alters the mind and gives people the “high” feeling. The CBD component is not psychoactive. Today, we’ll talk only about THC and how it affects your body.
When cannabis is smoked or vaped, it goes into your lungs. From there, it enters the bloodstream and travels to your brain. The brain reacts to the chemical, causing you to feel the effects within a few minutes of smoking. However, when cannabis is consumed as an edible, it takes about 1-3 hours before it begins to affect the body, because it takes longer for the substance to enter the bloodstream.
Whether cannabis is smoked, vaped, or consumed, it:
- Impairs coordination – skills such as writing, walking, and talking may become difficult or take more time
- Impairs judgement – leading to a slower reaction time or taking more time to make decisions
- Alters mood – people may be more angry or sad, or may have a short temper
- Increases heart rate
Is Medical Cannabis Legal in Maryland?
Medical cannabis is legal in Maryland. Once a health care provider recommends a patient use medical cannabis for treatment, they must register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. To be eligible, a patient must meet guidelines set by the commission. More information can be found here. Once registered, patients can get their medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary in Maryland.
Some people add cannabis to candy, cookies, or other baked goods to make homemade edibles. Edibles will increase in availability in Maryland dispensaries soon for use by medical cannabis patients.
What About Recreational Cannabis?
To-date, recreational use of cannabis has not been legalized in the state of Maryland. Bills seeking to legalize recreational cannabis have come up in recent legislative sessions, but have not passed. Although recreational cannabis is legal in other states, it’s illegal to bring it into the state of Maryland.
In 2014, Maryland passed a state law that made possession of small amounts (under 10 grams) of marijuana a civil offense, which carries a small fine to pay, instead of the previous criminal penalty. Possession of more than 10 grams is now a misdemeanor, with potential for jail and/or a large fine.
What is the Effect on Children?
Cannabis affects children differently than adults. If you suspect a child has gotten into cannabis in any form, call the poison center right away. Do not wait for symptoms to call. Symptoms of children exposed to marijuana include:
- trouble walking or sitting up
- trouble breathing
We do not have all of the answers on the use of cannabis in teens yet. Current research suggests that the use of cannabis in the developing brain can cause changes in different parts of the brain. This can include changes in memory, mood, and/or attention.
If you or someone you know is experiencing unwanted or unexpected effects from cannabis, call the poison experts right away. We are ready to take your call 24/7/365 at 1-800-222-1222. Find more information about cannabis on the CDC and NIDA websites.