With all of the people extolling the benefits of Marijuana and the fact that the Canadian government has now legalized Marijuana, many are probably wondering, “How bad can this drug be?” I decided it was time to inform you of the adverse effects of this drug.
There is medicinal Marijuana and recreational Marijuana. The medicinal Marijuana or cannabis oil is referred to as The Sacred Plant (some of you may have seen the video series by this name, which I highly recommend) and it helps those in pain or suffering from disease. It contains a small amount of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is necessary to receive the medicinal benefits from the drug. Recreational Marijuana contains far more THC, which is the component that makes ones high or intoxicated when smoked. According to annual survey data, more teenagers smoke recreational marijuana than cigarettes. The amount of THC in Marijuana samples, confiscated by police, has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. In 2009, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged close to 10 percent, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980s. According to Canada’s government website, some strains contain an average of 30 percent!
When smoked, Marijuana affects users almost immediately and the effects can last for one to three hours. When it is baked in brownies or cookies, its effects usually last even longer. Here are 24 negative effects of recreational Marijuana use.
What are the short-term effects of recreational marijuana?
- Distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch)
- Memory, thinking and learning challenges – THC disrupts nerve cells in the brain. A large prospective study showed that people who began smoking Marijuana heavily in their teens lost as much as 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38.
- Anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic
- Loss of coordination
- Lowered reaction time
- Increased heart rate, reduced blood pressure – Marijuana can cause the heart beat to increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute. Researchers found that users’ risk for a heart attack is four times higher within the first hour after smoking Marijuana, compared to their general risk of heart attack when not smoking.
- Burning, stinging of the mouth and throat, coughing, more frequent chest and lung infections – One major research study reported that a single joint could cause as much damage to the lungs as up to five regular cigarettes smoked one after another.
- After the initial elevated mood, depression and/or sleepiness kicks in
When high doses of recreational marijuana are used, users can experience the following symptoms:
- Impaired memory
What are the long-term effects of recreational marijuana?
- Lowered immune system – Many studies showed that THC increased the risk of colds and bronchitis. Another study found that THC increased the risk of developing bacterial infections and tumors.
- Increase of abnormally structured cells in the body
- Reduction of male sex hormones
- Rapid destruction of lung fibers
- Permanent lesions (injuries) to the brain (pictures can be found in “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” by Daniel Amen MD)
- Reduced sexual capacity
- Apathy, drowsiness, lack of motivation
- Personality and mood changes
- Deformation of sperm cells and sterility challenges in men
- Irregular menstrual cycle in women
Because Marijuana smoke contains 3 times more tar and 50% to 70% more cancer-causing substances than tobacco smoke, it would make sense that smoking Marijuana would increase the risk of lung cancer although researchers have not been able to prove this because of all of the other factors that increase the risk.
Contrary to common belief, Marijuana is addictive. Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to Marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among daily users (to 25-50 percent). Also, Marijuana use often leads to other drug use, with even more perilous results.
My brother and best friend in the whole world started smoking Marijuana at the age of fifteen and went onto other more potent drugs, eventually dying of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 31. Please do everything in your power to understand the harmful effects of this drug and prevent those you know from masking their pain with drugs.
Sources: Foundation for a Drug-free World, National Institute of Drug Abuse and Government of Canada