Marijuana (also spelled marihuana) is the common
name given to any DRUG preparation from the hemp plant,
Cannabis sativa. Various forms of this drug are known by
different names throughout the world, such as kif in
Morocco, dagga in South Africa, and ganja in India.
Hashish refers to a dried, resinous substance that exudes
from the flowering tops of the plant. In Western culture,
cannabis preparations have acquired a variety of slang
names, including grass, pot, tea, reefer, weed, and Mary
Jane. Cannabis has been smoked, eaten in cakes, and drunk
in beverages. In Western cultures marijuana is prepared
most often as a tobacco like mixture that is smoked in a
pipe or rolled into a cigarette.
One of the oldest known drugs, cannabis was acknowledged as early as 2700 BC, in a Chinese manuscript. Throughout the centuries it has been used both medicinally and as an intoxicant. The major psychoactive component of this drug, however, was not identified until the mid-1960s; this ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC. At present, other cannabinoids have been isolated and their possible biochemical activities are being explored. Psychoactive compounds are found in all parts of the male and female plant, with the greatest concentration in the flowering tops. The content of these active compounds varies greatly from plant to plant, depending on genetic and environmental factors.