The term 'marijuana' (sometimes spelled 'marihuana') is Mexican in origin and typically refers to any part of -- or any one of -- the three distinctive subspecies of the cannabis plant: cannabis sativa (which tends to grow tall and stalky), cannabis indica (which tends to grow smaller and bushier), or cannabis ruderalis (found primarily in Russia and Eastern Europe.) Grown outdoors, the cannabis plant typically achieves maturity within three to five months. Cultivated indoors under optimum heat and lighting, the plant may reach maturity within as few as 60 days.
Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America (behind only alcohol and tobacco), and has been used by nearly 100 million Americans. According to government surveys, some 25 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 14 million do so regularly despite laws against its use. Our public policies should reflect this reality, not deny it.
Marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Around 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning. Similarly, more than 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to tobacco smoking. By comparison, marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose.