Marijuana generally refers to the leaves and flowering buds of the Cannabis plant. It is a psychoactive drug and contains over 400 chemicals. Of them, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main active chemical ingredient that produces short-term harmful effects such as depression, anxiety, distorted perceptions, memory impairment, and difficulty in thinking. Manijuana is mostly abused as it gives a feeling of high or euphoria immediately and can last for 1-3 hours.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in America. According to National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2008, about 15.2 million people were using Marijuana in US. Initiation or first time use of Marijuana is also high in US. The same report also states that around 2.2 million persons aged 12 or older used marijuana for the first time in 2008. This shows that there are about 6,000 Marijuana initiates per day.
The use of marijuana has some adverse effects, especially on the brain and the body. When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the harmful chemical to the brain and to other organs throughout the body.
Impact on brain:
When someone smokes or consumes marijuana, the bloodstream carries the active THC compound to the brain. THC in the brain combines with the cannabinoid receptors, which are mostly found in those regions of the brain, which control memory, thinking ability, and concentration. By altering the activities of these neurons, marijuana impairs a person’s memory, concentration, and thinking ability.
Reduces learning ability
Some studies have shown that marijuana adversely impacts a person’s ability to learn. This can be more problematic for teenagers during their adolescence when their brains are still developing.
As the chemical in Marijuana combines with the neurons in the brain which control the senses like concentration, Marijuana intoxication causes distorted perceptions, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, less concentration, and short attention spans.
Marijuana users suffer from short term memory losses. As Marijuana affects memory receptors in the brain, it makes difficult for an individual to process and retain information.
Impact on body:
Apart from adversely affecting the brain, Marijuana has many negative effects on the body. In addition to the harmful THC, it contains carcinogens which can cause considerable damage to the respiratory and other organs. Some of the common ailments caused by the Marijuana use are cough, chest colds, emphysema, blockage of the air passages, bronchitis, and bronchial asthma.
People who smoke marijuana often develop problems like coughing, phlegm production, and wheezing. Marijuana users tend to have more chest colds than others. They are also more vulnerable to lung infections like pneumonia.
Studies have shown that marijuana contains carcinogens that can act as irritants to the lungs. It has also been reported that Marijuana contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than normal tobacco. Generally, Marijuana users inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer, which further increases the lungs’ exposure to harmful carcinogenic smoke.
Emphysema is a lung disease that shortens the breath of an individual. Marijuana smoke contains many toxins that can destroy the lung tissues necessary to support the physical shape and function of the lungs.
THC, the main active chemical in Marijuana is a fat-soluble substance and gets collected in fatty tissues in the lungs and other organs. Persistent usage of Marijuana can damage lungs and airways that may result in bronchial asthma.
Apart from effects on brain and body, it has many negative effects on social functioning in the context of family, school, and work. Therefore, it is very important to be aware and understand the effects of Marijuana use on human body to avoid and deter the harmful drug.