According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDH), marijuana is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried flowers of Cannabis sativa (hemp plant). You may refer to it as – weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, Mary Jane, and a vast number of other slang terms. People smoke it using joints, blunts, pipes, and bongs, while others use vaporizers to avoid inhaling smoke. As medicinal marijuana becomes more widespread, people mix marijuana in different foods, commonly referred to as edibles.
Marijuana contains over 400 chemicals; THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. It is said to act much like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body. Cannabinoid receptors are found in certain areas of the brain and are associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. THC attaches to these receptors and activates them. This chemical interaction affects a person’s memory, pleasure, movements, thinking, concentration, coordination, and sensory and time perception. This is what causes the “high” people feel.
The “high” is only temporary, allowing people to experience mood changes, impaired body movement and memory, difficulty thinking and problem solving, and if taken in high doses, hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis. These are just some examples of the short-term effects marijuana have on individuals. What are some of the long-term effects, you ask? My answer is, it all depends. It depends on the age of first use, the toxicity levels of the marijuana, and the duration of use. A recent study showed when marijuana use started in adolescence and continued into adulthood an average of 8 IQ points was lost.
There are also positive effects THC has on the body and to which it reacts/responds with Cannabinoid receptors. Medical marijuana is used to treat chronic pain, muscle spasticity, anorexia, nausea, and sleep disturbances.
I leave you with some fun facts to ponder…
- Only around 1% – 5% of marijuana users end up developing psychosis
- A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to die of an overdose
- Scientists have found that a marijuana compound can freeze and stop the spread of some types of aggressive cancer