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Cannabis, also known as marijuana among other names,[n 1] is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant intended for medical or recreational use.[16][17][18] The main psychoactive part of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); one of 483 known compounds in the plant,[19] including at least 65 other cannabinoids.[20] Cannabis can be used by smoking, vaporizing, within food, or as an extract.[21]

Cannabis is often used for its mental and physical effects, such as a "high" or "stoned" feeling, a general change in perception, euphoria (heightened mood), and an increase in appetite.[21][22] Onset of effects is within minutes when smoked, and about 30 to 60 minutes when cooked and eaten.[21][23] They last for between two and six hours.[23] Short term side effects may include a decrease in short-term memory, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety.[21][24][25] Long term side effects may include addiction, decreased mental ability in those who started as teenagers, and behavioral problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy.[21] Studies have found a strong relation between cannabis use and the risk of psychosis,[26] though the cause-and-effect relationship is debated.[27]

Cannabis is mostly used recreationally or as a medicinal drug, although it may also be used for religious or spiritual purposes. In 2013, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis (2.7% to 4.9% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 65).[28] In 2015, 43% of Americans had used cannabis, which increased to 51% in 2016.[29] About 12% have used it in the past year, and 7.3% have used it in the past month.[30] This makes it the most commonly used illegal drug both in the world and the United States.[21][28]

The earliest recorded uses date from the 3rd millennium BC.[31] Since the early 20th century, cannabis has been subject to legal restrictions. The possession, use, and sale of cannabis is illegal in most countries of the world.[32][33] Medical cannabis refers to the physician-recommended use of cannabis, which is taking place in Canada, Belgium, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and 23 U.S. states.[34] Cannabis use started to become popular in the US in the 1970s.[35] Support for legalization has increased in the United States and several U.S. states have legalized recreational or medical use.[36]
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