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The growing number of people that have started consuming marijuana has made it a necessity upon everyone to know the basics about the drug, be it to become part of the group or to look out for a loved one that might have gotten hooked. Marijuana has often been declared as one of the most commonly consumed illegal drugs. It is often associated with illicit activities and the destruction of characters and lives. So, when we see it being legalized in so many states despite this negative connotation that it has, it must make no sense to us. Could it be that recreational use of marijuana and its side effects have been blown out of proportion? Let’s look into the effects it has on our life to make a more informed decision.
Marijuana comes from the flowers of the Cannabis plant. Marijuana packaging constitutes of dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant towed into bottles or “baggies”. The contents might be either gray, green, or brown. It is most commonly smoked (usually as joints, occasionally in a pipe), though some people brew it into a tea mixture to attain maximum benefits. Some people also infuse it into their food, like pot brownies for instance.
This plant contains over 100 different chemicals -cannabinoids- and they have different effects on your body. The most well-known of these is the THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the chemical that gives you the “high”. Another chemical it contains is Cannabidiol, or CBD, which does not cause any psychoactive effects on us. When we consume marijuana, these cannabinoids move into our bloodstream from either our stomach or our lungs, depending on what consumption method we chose. Our blood carries these cannabinoids to our brain where they alter the working of certain receptors which then result in the high that we experience. The extent to which these drugs have an impact on us depends on the dosage we took and the level of tolerance of the individual.
What are the effects of marijuana on our health?
The Respiratory System
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Just like with any other smoke, marijuana smoke causes aggravation of cough and phlegm production. It might also cause worsening of existing conditions such as asthma. Regular smokers are also at an increased risk of developing lung infections and bronchitis. Even though there has been wide speculation that smoking marijuana results in lung cancer, the evidence found has been limited and barely sufficient to prove the claim.
The Circulatory System
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On average the heart rate of a marijuana smoker increases by 30-50 beats per minute. This might not seem so much to a healthy individual, but for those suffering from heart diseases, it can be lethal.
The Nervous System
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While short term effects of marijuana include calmer nerves, lesser spasms, controlled pain, etc., the harmful long-term effects can’t be ignored. Marijuana releases a large amount of dopamine in our brain that makes us happier and warps our reality in such a way that our judgment becomes impaired. Extended usage of marijuana may also lead to a weaker memory along with the inability to form memories when in a high state.
Recent studies have implied that the use of cannabinoids may cause certain mental conditions to exacerbate including anxiety and depression. It may also trigger schizophrenia in patients due to its hallucinogenic qualities when consumed in a large amount.
- The Digestive System
Being high causes an increase in appetite, which is why people undergoing chemotherapy are given marijuana to keep their strength up. This is a disadvantage to those who are hopeful of shedding a few pounds. Marijuana has been associated with liver damage and subsequent vomiting and nausea.
- On the Immune System
People who smoke on a regular are more likely to fall ill than those who don’t. This is because smoking or consuming cannabis damages the immune system, leaving us more susceptible to diseases.
From the above information, it is quite evident that marijuana has negative effects on the health of the user. Then why is it being encouraged and made available? That might be because the above-stated effects are those that prolonged usage brings up. The effect of using a drug recreationally is different than the effects of it being used as an addict. It is also worth mentioning here that marijuana has been proven by extensive research to have certain therapeutic benefits that have assisted in the treatment of many disorders that were otherwise incurable.
Hence, it can be concluded that until further research can be conducted into the effects, both good and bad, of marijuana, we should give it the benefit of doubt. Allow it to be legalized to observe the ramifications it has on its users in particular, and on the society as a whole.
Hassan Khan Yousafzai is passionate about Digital marketing. Along with an educational background in Software Engineering, he is bridging the gap between marketing and development department. At Techvando, he has been consulting brands all over Pakistan to gain online traffic and profitable leads.
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