Smoking Marijuana ~ Myth or Facts

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a mind-altering drug which ranks as the most popular illegal drug used in the U.S. It is a mix of dried flowers, leaves and stems from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The main active ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta 9 tetrhydrocannabinol).Marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in America. It’s a drug used by such a variety of people, from young teenagers to parents and grandparents. Even though the number of people that use marijuana is high, its getting even higher (pun intended). If so many people are turning to this drug, can it be that bad? Whats bad can come from smoking weed?

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Is weed a gateway drug?

The “gateway” theory describes stages of development of drug use from childhood or teen years, to adolescence with drug use progressing from legal drugs (ie. alcohol and cigarettes), to illicit drugs (marijuana being the most common one), to the abuse of prescription drugs. Many studies have been done to prove the gateway theory. One study is a twin study, where one twin used pot before the age of 17, and their odds or drug or alcohol dependence were 2-5 times higher than the twin that did not smoke weed. However, that could always be due to change. Many people argue marijuana use doesn’t lead to the abuse of more serious drugs, but the type of person who smokes weed is just also the type of person who would do other drugs. I’m not sure which i believe yet.

Can you become addicted to marijuana?

It hasn’t been proven that you can become addicted to the drug, however conic users have shown withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include irritability, agitation, depression, insomnia, and nausea. These symptoms last for about two days after the used stops smoking, however unusual dreams and irritability can last for weeks.

Does smoking weed cause lung cancer?

This question can not be definitely answered. When smoking weed theres is no filter, and it contains about 4 times as much tar as tobacco. These facts would make many people think there could be a link to lung cancer, as this is clearly not healthy. After many studies, there is no link between smoking weed and the causation of lung cancer; however it does increase your risk. One factor that makes this question very difficult to answer is this: weed smokers are five times more likely to smoke cigarettes then non weed smokers. The use of nicotine and weed enhance the harmful effects, potentially causing cancer, but it’s hard to tell which caused it.  Smoking marijuana, even infrequently, can cause burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, and cause heavy coughing. Scientists have found that regular marijuana smokers can experience the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers do, including:

  • Daily cough and phlegm production
  • More frequent acute chest illnesses
  • Increased risk of lung infections
  • Obstructed airways

When high doses of marijuana are used or used daily,  users can experience the following symptoms:

What are the Hazards of Using Marijuana?

Some of the common discomforts found when using marijuana include dry mouth, swollen eyelids, bloodshot eyes, loss of coordination and an accelerated heart rate.

Short-term Hazards include:

  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Impaired memory
  • Difficulty in thinking
  • Learning difficulties
  • Lack of attention and focus
  • Poor driving skills

Long-Term Hazards Include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Heightened risk of infections, especially the lungs
  • Poor short-term recall
  • Inability to shift attention normally
  • Inability to understand complex information
  • An increased risk of developing lung, head and neck cancers
  • Lack of motivation
  • Decreased sperm count in men
  • Irregular menstruation in women

Effects on the Heart

Within a few minutes after smoking marijuana, the heart begins beating more rapidly and the blood pressure drops. Marijuana can cause the heart beat to increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute, and can increase even more if other drugs are used at the same time.

Because of the lower blood pressure and higher heart rate, 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.

 Most marijuana smokers consume a lot less cannabis than cigarette smokers consume tobacco, however the harmful effects of smoking marijuana should not be ignored. Marijuana contains more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke and because marijuana smokers typically inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers, their lungs are exposed to those carcinogenic properties longer, when smoking.

What About Cancer?

Although one study found that marijuana smokers were three times more likely to develop cancer of the head or neck than non-smokers, that study could not be confirmed by further analysis.

Most marijuana smokers consume a lot less cannabis than cigarette smokers consume tobacco, however the harmful effects of smoking marijuana should not be ignored. Marijuana contains more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke and because marijuana smokers typically inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers, their lungs are exposed to those carcinogenic properties longer, when smoking.

Because marijuana smoke contains three times the amount of tar found in tobacco smoke and 50 percent more carcinogens, it would seem logical to deduce that there is an increased risk of lung cancer for marijuana smokers. However, researchers have not been able to definitively prove such a link because their studies have not been able to adjust for tobacco smoking and other factors that might also increase the risk.

Studies linking marijuana smoking to lung cancer have also been limited by selection bias and small sample size. For example, the participants in those studies may have been too young to have developed lung cancer yet. Even though researchers have yet to “prove” a link between smoking pot and lung cancer, regular smokers may want to consider the risk.

 Other Health Effects

Research indicates that THC impairs the body’s immune system from fighting disease, which can cause a wide variety of health problems. One study found that marijuana actually inhibited the disease-preventing actions of key immune cells. Another study found that THC increased the risk of developing bacterial infections and tumors.

 Effects of Exposure During Pregnancy

Several studies have found that children born to mothers who used marijuana during pregnancy exhibit some problems with neurological development.

Sources:

Chuder, Eric C., “Neuroscience for Kids: Marijuana,” University of Washington, Revised 2008.

SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information. “Tips for Teens: The Truth About Marijuana,” Revised May 2004.National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know.” Revised August 2007.Tetrault, J.M., et al. “Effects of marijuana smoking on pulmonary function and respiratory complications: a systematic review.” Archives of Intern Medicine. February 2007.Mehra, R, et al. “The association between marijuana smoking and lung cancer: a systematic review.” Archives of Internal Medicine. July 2006.

I am not saying that there isn’t a need of medical Cannabidiol. (CBD) is a compound in cannabis that has medical effects but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counter the psychoactive effects of THC. After decades in which only high-THC Cannabis was available, CBD-rich strains are now being grown by and for medical users.

I am just asking people to look at the difference. Marijuana and CBD. There is a difference. If people tell you there isn’t.. Look again.

Are Americans going to be using it as a medical solution or are we using it to just get high?   Are we looking at a country of stoners?

Some might not agree with this article but I needed to put it out there since I come from a family with drug addictions.  I am worried how all this will be controlled and about our children and children’s children. I have to say from my experience.. I find people who get high to be un motivated.. Lazy… forgetful..

Alcohol is bad enough now we add something new to the mix.

Thank for reading.

Debi

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