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If you find plants around your home that look similar to the marijuana plant in the photo, someone in your household is trying to grow their own weed. The plants have changed considerably in recent decades as they have been bred to produce more buds.

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Leaves on a Marijuana Plant

If you look closely at a marijuana bud, you will see the fine “hairs” and leaves that make up the bud after it is dried.

If your child is using marijuana, you may be likely to find rolled joints of marijuana cigarettes. You may also find rolling papers. Your child may claim that these are hand-rolled tobacco cigarettes, which would also be a concern.

John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

He shared some background on medical marijuana’s uses and potential side effects.

States allowing legal recreational use include: Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington

What is medical marijuana used for?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says marijuana can be addictive and is considered a “gateway drug” to using other drugs. “The higher the level of THC and the more often you use, the more likely you are to become dependent,” Bonn-Miller says. “You have difficulty stopping if you need to stop. You have cravings during periods when you’re not using. And you need more and more of it to have the same effect.” Learn more about the long-term effects of marijuana use.

Limited research suggests cannabinoids might:

While every state has laws dictating the use of medical marijuana, more than two thirds of U.S. states and the District of Columbia have actually legalized it for medical treatments and more are considering bills to do the same. Yet while many people are using marijuana, the FDA has only approved it for treatment of two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

A lesser-known possibility comes from the 1939 short story “In the Walls of Eryx” by H.P. Lovecraft and Kenneth Sterling. The story describes “curious mirage-plants” that seemed fairly similar to marijuana and appeared to get the narrator high at, according to his watch, around 4:20. Since the story is from 1939, it’s perhaps the earliest written link between marijuana and 420.

Another theory is that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana, hence an obvious connection between the drug and the number. But that’s not quite true either, with nearly 500 such components in marijuana.

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Why April 20? There are a few possible explanations for why marijuana enthusiasts’ day of celebration landed on this day, but the real origin remains a bit of a mystery.

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