Commonly known as pot, grass or weed, marijuana is the world’s most commonly used illicit drug and by far the most dangerous of them all. It is usually known to affect one’s psychology. However, contrary to popular belief, smoking weed can cause many health risks and long term effects on the body as well. Chronic use of marijuana can result in higher rate of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia. Marijuana is also associated with an increased risk of suffering from a heart attack. Since marijuana smoke contains large amounts of carcinogens, its excessive use can result in long-term effects on the lungs as well. It has also been associated with lung cancer and several other respiratory disorders. This article contains few other facts about marijuana which you must know.
Basic Facts About Marijuana
- Marijuana is cultivated from hemp plant or cannabis sativa, which has been grown for the past 2000 years, because of its psychoactive properties.
- Cannabis contains more than 400 different chemicals, but the most important of them all is THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The quantity of THC in the marijuana determines the strength of the drug. The level of THC itself depends on the plant type, weather, soil as well as the time of harvest.
- Today, sophisticated cannabis cultivation produces high levels of THC and hence more strong marijuana, which are by far more potent than pot of the past. The THC content of marijuana, which averaged less than 1 percent in 1974, rose to an average 4 percent by 1994.
- The THC content in the most popular form of marijuana known as “Sinsemilla” averages around 7.5 percent and goes up to 24 percent.
- Marijuana is usually smoked with either a pipe or in loosely rolled cigarettes known as "joints." Others slice open and hollow the cigars, replacing tobacco with marijuana. These are known as “blunts”.
- Smoking, however, is not the only way to consume marijuana. It can also be brewed into tea or mixed in the baked products such as cookies and brownies.
- Marijuana is a mild hallucinogen and has some of alcohol’s depressant properties. However, the response is heavily influenced by the expectations as well as past experience. Many first-time users might feel nothing at all after consuming it.
- The effects of smoking marijuana can be in general felt within few minutes. The effect reaches its peak within 10-30 minutes. The commonly experienced conditions include dry mouth and throat, increased heart rate, impaired coordination and balance, delayed reaction time and diminished short-term memory. While moderate doses tend to induce a sense of well-being and a dreamy state of relaxation, stronger doses prompt intense and disturbing conditions such as paranoia and hallucinations.
- Although most marijuana’s short-term effects wear off within two or three hours, the drug lingers on since THC is a fat-soluble substance and accumulates in the fatty tissues in the liver, lungs, testes and several other organs. Even after two-four weeks of its consumption, traces can be found in sensitive blood tests.
- Although research studies are yet to prove whether marijuana can cause irreversible loss of intellectual capacity in humans, but animal studies have shown marijuana-induced structural damage to portions of the brain essential to memory and learning.
- Chronic marijuana smokers are prey to chest colds, bronchitis, emphysema and bronchial asthma. Its persistent use can eventually damage one’s lungs and airways and increase the risk of cancer. It is believed that smoking a single marijuana joint is equivalent to smoking five tobacco cigarettes.
- Marijuana also results in hormonal imbalance and delays the onset of puberty in young men. It is also known to reduce the level of sperm production. In women, there is a disruption of the normal monthly menstrual cycle as well as ovulation.
- Although marijuana is listed under the category of no acceptable medical use, few claim that smoking weed has helped them deal with pain or relieved them from the symptoms of glaucoma, loss of appetite that accompanied AIDS or nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy. However, the beneficial effects of marijuana are yet to be confirmed by controlled scientific research.