Marijuana has been approved as a prescription substance for a long time. It has always been seen sparingly as a prescription medication in the past. In modern years, though, the medicinal usage of marijuana has expanded considerably. The advancement of medicinal usage has been combined with the movement to legalise it. As the battle on illegal substances experiences a change in its policies, the legalisation of drugs, not just pot, has been gathering steam. The impact of weed on both patients and non-users are clear for us to see in the face of these growing scenarios. In a constructive or a bad way, be it. The paper therefore discusses these impacts when they exist on people and culture as a whole.
The Effects of Marijuana
In America, tobacco, commonly known as pot, weed or cannabis, Mary Jane, Indian hemp, pot, grass, herb, dope, and ganja, is the third most prevalent recreational drug. It is ranked after tobacco and alcohol. It remains, though, the most highly used street substance in America. In most of the world’s humid and tropical regions, cannabis sativa, which absorbs marijuana from its dried leaves, grows naturally. Interestingly, its function as a mind-altering drug has also been linked to the pre-historic societies of Africa and Euro-Asia through historical data. In recent years, it has been seen that marijuana usage statistics have intensified (Mehling 8-11). As widespread as it is, though, weed has several ramifications, such as health and social consequences. What are these impacts on culture and well-being? To counter this que.
The paper will address these consequences, Ry. According to United States government surveys, around 25 million Americans have smoked marijuana over the last year. About 14 million do so regularly, in spite of the harsh laws restricting its use. According to Hanson et al., 10.1 out of 18.1 million illicit substance users in the United States used only marijuana in the past month, representing a significant 64.3 percent (403). In 2011, weed was identified as one of the really basic or very easy-to-get drugs by 38% of 8th graders, 82% of 12th graders, and 68% of 10th graders. This indicates how prolific the weed is (Maisto, Galizio and Connors 24-26). Perhaps this is inspired by the fact that it is among the biggest cash-generating crops in some states, since it grows wildly in some states and is therefore readily accessible to the public. California generates nearly 40 percent of the cannabis consumed in the United States and produces sales of about $18.8 billion.
How is Marijuana Used?
Marijuana is traditionally smoked in hand-rolled joints, in pipes, or as cigarettes. Sometimes, it is smoked in cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with a mixture of tobacco and marijuana. In recent times, people have continually devised ways to make marijuana more “user-friendly” and permeate the markets at virtually any point and any place (Mehling 10). Thus, it is coming in the form of cookies, cakes, bread, and almost all kinds of confectionary. It is been mixed in food and brewed in tea or coffee. It can also be injected to the bloodstream along other drugs such as heroin.
Effects of Marijuana
In the United States, medical marijuana is legal in the District of Columbia as well as in 22 other states. In Washington and Colorado counties, with the legalisation of recreational marijuana, it is projected that more people will turn to marijuana as an option for treating most ailments. However, the medicinal usage of marijuana is neither new nor unique to this generation but has been used by ancient physicians. Physicians who recommended marijuana for psychological disorders, pain relief, digestive problems, as well as other conditions. Mitch Earleywine, Professor of Opioid and Alcohol Studies at the State University of New York at Albany, states that, as early as 2737 B.C., the emperor of China, Shen Neng, paraded marijuana as a treatment for rheumatism, gout, malaria, and sometimes, poor memory.
Cannabis is known to contain close to 60 active ingredients called cabbanoids that are unique to the drug. According to scientists, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana, is the tetrahydrocannabinol, popularly abbreviated as THC. It is THC that offers one the feeling of euphoria. The chemical presents people with chronic pain, nausea from chemotherapy and the effects felt from progressive diseases like glaucoma as well as multiple sclerosis with a leeway from pain. Researchers at the American Academy of Neurology concluded that, medical marijuana presented in the form of oral sprays and pills appeared quite effective in the reduction of stiffness and muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis. It also aided with symptoms such as pains related to spasms, overactive bladder as well as numbness and painful burning. However, one of the most common purposes for medical marijuana remains easing the symptoms of nausea experienced after chemotherapy. Another health effect of marijuana is the stimulation of appetite among the HIV/AIDS patients, dementia, as well as, other people who suffer from suppressed appetite owing to a certain medical condition, or another. Emerging science suggests that, as a drug, marijuana possesses compounds that could shield the body from malignant tumour forms. Therefore, although the discussion over the usage of marijuana might always be over how unlawful it is, nothing will be more unfortunate than refusing medical cannabis to tens of thousands of people who desperately need it (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
The other side of the coin is the reality that it is health effects of marijuana are not encrypted with good news for users. According to medics, marijuana is known to accelerate the heart rate by up to 100 percent just shortly after smoking. The effect has the potential to last for up to 3 hours. One study estimates that, in just the first hour after smoking marijuana, users have a 5-fold increase in the risk of getting a heart attack. It explains why some people have had heart attacks right after being exposed to marijuana. The risk is more potent in older users or in those that suffer from cardiac vulnerabilities.
Marijuana usage during pregnancy has been linked to an increase in the risk of neurobehavioral problems in babies. As THC and other compounds in the marijuana are known to mimic the body’s cannabinoid chemicals, marijuana use among pregnant women is known to cause alterations in the developing endocannabinoid system in the fetus’s brain. The resulting baby will be more likely to struggle with memory problems, attention, and problem-solving as compared to the average child (Hanson, Venturelli and Fleckenstein 10). To the pregnant women, marijuana can be associated with a lower blood pressure, alterations in the blood sugar levels, and an increase in the breathing rate. While there is no evidence to link marijuana with lung cancer, the process of smoking pot is known to irritate the lungs. It explains why regular marijuana smokers and the newcomers are more likely to experience ongoing coughs and suffer from lung-related health problems like lung infections and chest colds. This is in comparison to non-marijuana users (Maitson 46). The effect will be more than tragic to pregnant women and the baby. It may also contribute to one or both of them dying.
Studies show that, persistent exposure to and the usage of marijuana can be linked to mental illnesses. A high dosage of marijuana is known to have temporary psychotic reactions that include paranoia and hallucinations. Studies also suggest that the application of marijuana has been known to exacerbate the path of disease in schizophrenia patients. According to Bolla, Brown and Take, studies of the residual cognitive effects of marijuana after a period of abstinence revealed that heavy marijuana usage was associated with deficits in memory, attention, and cognitive functioning. According to this study where marijuana users were carefully grouped by the frequency of usage, neuro-cognitive tests were repeated over 28 days of abstinence and the decrements in the memory for words was evident. The results were either catalyzed or diminished variables such as the amount of drugs used, the genetic dispensation, the drug potency, as well as, the age at which it was first taken. Those who were exposed to the drug at an earlier time were more susceptible to memory problems as compared to the first timers (Bolla, Brown and Eldreth 1337-43).
Marijuana use has been linked to the detrimental mental health problems like depression, personality disturbances, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts mostly among adolescents. It is also associated with a general lack of motivation among users promoting redundancy. Also, because the use of marijuana seriously impairs the judgment and reaction time owing to the feeling of euphoria, the risks of injury or death when driving or operating machinery cannot be ruled out. It can in turn contribute to incapacitation or death of the users and other victims. Other health and physical effects of marijuana include shallow breathing, dizziness, dry mouth, an increased appetite, and red eyes that are synonymous with dilated pupils. When long-time users stop, immediate withdrawal symptoms that might present health problems include irritability, cravings, sleeplessness, and loss of appetite (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
Social Effects of Marijuana
As mentioned above, marijuana use has negative effects on memory, attention, and consequently on the learning activities amongst users. Hanson (90) concurs that as a result, despite the popular belief that the use of marijuana makes one sharp. Usage of marijuana at least daily makes one function at a reduced intellectual level during most times. Evidence supports that, compared to their nonsmoking counterparts, students who take marijuana tend to achieve lower grades in school and are also much more likely to drop out of school. Also, people who take marijuana in large doses may find themselves becoming reliant on the drug, develop an addiction and sometimes experience harsh withdrawal symptoms when they quit.
Marijuana users have been known to be paranoid and to spend their time indoors instead of participating in useful activities. The paranoia is so bad that it leads these people to believe that others are out to harm or kill them. Thus, they stay away from people. The paranoia will, therefore, make the lives of such people suffer heavily. The withdrawal leads to suicidal thoughts and acts as well as killing of people purported to be their “enemies.”
Marijuana usage is associated with stress and depression among users and those indirectly affected. The stress can emanate and be aggravated by factors like the lives of the said victims not working out the way they would like it to, poor grades, unemployment and other factors. Studies show that, people wishing to stop but cannot because of the addiction find themselves stressed and might become violent. Because of the illegality of marijuana, it has created a group of cartels or black market operations (Mehling 60). The social effect of this are felt by the buyers and the distributors. The cartels are known to fleece their customers as no one would report them to the authorities. They also capitalize on the fact that most people are already addicted. Hence, they lure victims to quitting schools and becoming distributors of the drug. It might rub the wrong way with the authorities, both at the local level, with the school authorities and the parents.
Marijuana usage is connected with poverty on the socio-economic front. The frequent usage of marijuana promotes a redundancy that in turn make earning opportunities limited for the users. The ripple effect is that, the people who are close to the use, for example, the family and close relatives suffer. In the case of the parents of a kid abusing marijuana, these parents will spend a considerable amount of their income in rehabilitation processes, treating the diseases that result from the usage of the drug and sometimes keeping them under surveillance. When the user is the sole family provider, the socio-economic effect is tragic or even worse. Also, while joints may not be as expensive compared to other drugs such as heroin and alcohol, they use up a considerable amount of a given family’s resources (Maisto, Galizio and Connors 45). Perhaps all these social effects coupled with the general lawlessness among users culminate to acts of crime among the users. Because the use of marijuana is scientifically linked to aggressive and violent behavior, and when the moments of self-loathing come to these people, they are more likely to carry out crime activities ranging from stealing to committing more atrocious crimes like murder.
In conclusion, the effects of marijuana cannot be downplayed. Whether they affect the individual, another person or a family, the social effects to the state, country, and the world cannot be overruled. In spite of the medicinal advantages of marijuana, and the fervent campaigns to have the drug legalized to ease its access and abolish the black markets, one truth remains; the harmful repercussions measured both socially and in health outnumber the good (Mehlin 98). All in all, hope is not lost for people abusing the drug or their families. Rehabilitation programs can help the victims re-discover themselves from the drug’s tenacious claws and live full lives again. While proper usage in the medical and health field can relieve ailing persons from their health issues.
- Bolla, K, I, et al. “Dose-related neurocognitive effects of marijuana use.” Neurology (2002): 1337-1343. Web.
- Hanson, Glen, R, Peter, J Venturelli and Annette, E Fleckenstein. Drugs and Society. 11. Utah: University of Utah Salt Lake City, 2011. Print.
- Maisto, Stephen, A, Mark Galizio and Gerard, J Connors. Drug Use and Abuse. New York: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
- Mehling, Randi. Marijuana. Ed. David, J Triggle. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2003. Print.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics. September 2014. Web. 12 December 2014.