Marijuana is getting a lot of attention these days as sweeping legal reforms continue to spur debates and scientific inquiries into the nature of its effects on the mind and body. Having been lumped into a class of harmful narcotics for the past forty years, a lot of misinformation has circulated regarding the cannabis plant and its effects. Let’s explore some of this to get a better understanding of what the drug is and how to handle it.
Pot, Reefer, Cannabis, Mary Jane, Spliff, Cheeba, Chronic… the list of nicknames and street terms for Marijuana is endless as it’s the most commonly trafficked drug on the market. It’s a naturally growing plant so it’s been around longer than humans. Human usage of marijuana goes back as far as 12,000 years to the earliest civilizations who used it for medicinal and recreational purposes. Some cultures used cannabis in ritual and spiritual practices for centuries.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana, or cannabis, is most often smoked as a dried herb but can also be ingested and is starting to gain popular use in edibles and cooking. Inhaling the smoke is actually the most dangerous and unhealthy aspect of marijuana use. Inhaling smoke brings along all of the unhealthy tar and carcinogens of any burned substance and that’s the only aspect of cannabis use that has shown any signs of unhealthy damage.
Short term effects of using marijuana include a euphoric high that spans the whole body and a relaxation of the mind. Sensory distortions are common and range from a calming euphoria to anxious paranoia and panic, depending on the individual and his/her current mental state. It does impair coordination and movement in higher doses and therefore shouldn’t be used in conjunction with driving or operating heavy machinery. After the high has peaked there is a period of lethargy and sometimes depression as the cannabis leaves the bloodstream.
Long Term Effects of Marijuana
Long term effects of cannabis use include negative effects in areas of the brain that regulate emotions and motivation. Continued marijuana use commonly results in a noticeable decrease in motivation or ambition and a lingering depression or disassociated emotional state. The most common negative consequence of long term marijuana use comes from smoking. Inhaling carcinogens from smoke can damage the lungs and cardiovascular system much the way smoking cigarettes can. For this reason many marijuana users prefer to vaporize the herb into a water vapor that is much less damaging to the throat and lungs. Some studies have linked long term marijuana use to fertility issues and immune system malfunction but there is still a great deal of research being done in the field of marijuana usage.
While new legislation and continued expansion of medicinal use has changed the conversation about marijuana, it’s important to remember that it is still a drug and should be approached with caution and good sense. Anything can become a problem if abused or misused and addictions to marijuana often don’t seem damaging to an individual until the chronic use takes over their daily lives in negative ways.
Be aware of these changes and seek counseling if you think you may have developed an addictive dependency to marijuana. If you need assistance in beating a marijuana addiction or dependency, contact the staff at Treatment Now to learn about your options.
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