Marijuana has been used as a drug since the beginning of time, yet there are still many mysteries about its health effects on humans. Marijuana, or cannabis sativa, is a preparation of the crushed flower or buds of the female hemp plant. The existence of the plant has been reported as early as 1500-2000 BC in China, and cannabis has been described as an analgesic as early as 200 AD. Since then, an overwhelming number of studies have attempted to explain the physical and psychological effects of cannabis on humans. Physically, cannabis is relatively harmless. Studies have observed interesting results, including that it causes structural changes in the brain, depresses male sperm counts, and damages the lungs. Most of these claims,however, have been unreplicated in humans or contradicted by other work. Various studies have claimed that cannabis destroys brain cells. However, several other studies have found no structural or neurochemical atrophy in the brain at all. One study found a correlation between cannabis use and low sperm counts in human males. This is misleading because a decrease in sperm count has not been shown to have a negative effect on fertility and because the sperm count returns to normal after cannabis use has stopped. The most serious physical danger of using cannabis is in smoking it. Inhaling any sort of burnt plant matter is not very good for the lungs. Smoking cannabis through a water-bong will filter out some of the water soluble carcinogens and will also greatly cool down the smoke. Cannabis has also been known for its many therapeutic uses, including the treatment of open angle glaucoma, asthma, and the nausea associated with chemotherapy. It has also been described as a tumor retardant, an antibiotic, a sleep-inducer, and a muscle relaxant. The psychological effects of cannabis are the user feels the onset of the “high” between 7 seconds (when smoking) and up to thirty minutes(after eating). This involves a relaxed and peaceful, yet sometimes euphoric state of mind. At high doses, it can cause hallucinations. The effects last from 2 to 4 hours after the drug is ingested, and it usually leaves the user in a relaxed state for several hours after the high. One of the main intoxicating properties is that short term memory is inhibited for the duration of the high. Thoughts may seem unclear, and it might be difficult for a user to concentrate on logical, complicated concepts like mathematics. Whether cannabis use causes permanent physical or psychological changes in its users is still under question.
Cannabis Sativa (marijuana) has been thought to be an illegal and very harmful drug for many years. But as you read this report you will learn that marijuana has been around for many years (most years legal) and isn’t as harmful as some people may think. Marijuana has been used for many things in the past, including medicine, hemp rope, crude cloth and enjoyment. Now it is mainly used as a narcotic. Marijuana is an illegal weed that grows up to eighteen feet tall with little or no cultivation. The plant has many branches that extend with large, hairy, pointed leaves with saw tooth edges. Marijuana grows wild all over the world and in some states and countries it’s legal. Cloth and rope are made from the stem which contains a tough fiber called “hence.” The mind-altering drug in marijuana is called “Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannibinol,” or THC. The mildest form of marijuana contains between zero to three percent of THC. Most of the THC is contained in the resign, which is secreted around the flowers, seeds, and topmast leaves. Until recently it was thought that only the female plant contained the drug. But it is now known that both the female and the male plants contain THC. THC stays in the body for about 28 days. Marijuana can be prepared many different ways therefore it has many different ways of entering the body. When smoked the THC goes into the lungs, directly into the bloodstream and to every cell in your body. The effects depend upon the level of potency and how much is consumed. The main effects of smoking are: the heart rate may increase from 80 beats to 150 beats a minute, the bronchial tubes enlarge and become relaxed allowing extra oxygen to enter the body, giving a “High” like feeling. There are no immediate physiological effects. The feeling usually lasts from one to three hours. Marijuana can also be ingested as a drink, cakes, brownies or many other foods. When consumed in foods the effects start after one half-hour and last from three to four hours. The potency of Marijuana has increased at least ten times or 275% since the 1960’s. Marijuana can be measured by it’s “therapeutic ratio,” (the difference between the size of the dose needed for the desired effect and the! size that produces poisoning). The therapeutic ratio in marijuana has yet to be found. The negative long term effects of heavy marijuana use are, possible lung cancer, heart attacks in juveniles, strokes in people under forty, and it depletes the brain of serotonin and the user may lose his sense of well being or may become depressed. The user may lose his short-term memory, but after a week of not using it is usually regained. “High Times Magazine.” Marijuana contains about 400 chemicals that break down into 2000 or more. One joint contains as much tar as fourteen cigarettes. “Human Relations Media” The traditional medications used to treat AIDS sufferers cause a wide range of side effects. Virtually the only medicine capable of treating the entire spectrum of side effects without causing harm to the user is marijuana. There are now 30 diseases listed under the condition known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, AIDS. Most AIDS sufferers will contract several of these 30 during the course of their illness before finally succumbing to one of them. The traditional medications used in both their treatment and as prophylaxis–or prevention–cause a wide range of side effects, including loss of appetite, nausea, headaches, depression, pain, disorientation and fevers. Virtually the only medicine capable of treating the entire spectrum of side effects without causing harm to the user is marijuana. Naturally, it remains illegal. Provided by the “High Times” website. Marijuana is one of the oldest and widely used drugs in the world. It is the second most popular intoxicant, next to alcohol. There are two hundred million users in the country, and sixty million say that they have tried it. Only 40% of high school students graduated in 1995 without ever trying it. Approximately 33% of people who try it become regular users within three to five years. Smugglers traveling to the U.S.A. from Columbia, Jamaica, and Mexico bring in five billion dollars worth each year. Recently a large ship was spotted off of the U.S. coast unloading thirty-three tons of marijuana onto American soil. There have been over 9 million arrests for marijuana-law violations in the United States since 1965, with another arrest every 2 minutes. Over 80% of these arrests are for possession for personal consumption, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. Many of the 20% that are labeled “sale/manufacturing” in the FBI’s report actually involve cultivation for personal use or possession of an amount large enough (usually over an ounce) that the police infer possession with “intent” to distribute, even though it might actually have been for personal consumption. But in Singapore and Malaysia it’s another story. There, the death penalty is handed out to anyone in possession of drugs. In twenty years two hundred and fifty people have been hung for possession. Marijuana can be used for more than just the illegal use of getting high. As you have read, it helps in medicine and the stem can be used to make clothes or rope. Marijuana is one of the mildest drugs out there and the one of the only drugs that serves another purpose besides a “trip” or a “high”.
Marijuana – Harmful Effects Marijuana can cause many harmful effects. There has never been a major test though. The ones they’ve used have shown very different things. I have been very surprised by what I have been reading. I cannot believe the difference in what different scientists think. One says, “It’s hard to know for sure whether regular marijuana use causes cancer. But it is known that marijuana contains some of the same and sometimes even more, of the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.” While in certain places it is legally perscribed to people with many different types of cancer. The New scientist says, “A FRENCH government study has heaped fuel on the debate over the safety of cannabis by listing it as the least dangerous of all potentially addictive drugs. It also concludes that alcohol is among the most dangerous. The study, commissioned by French health minister Bernard Kouchner, was carried out by a panel of 10 French and foreign scientists headed by Bernard-Pierre Roques of the Ren Descartes University of Paris. The panel searched the scientific literature for information about psychological and physical dependence, neural and general toxicity and social hazards such as aggressive behavior caused by various legal and illegal drugs. The team then grouped the substances into three categories of dangerousness. Cannabis was the only drug put in the least dangerous category. While cautioning that no drug they assessed was “completely free of danger”, the researchers gave cannabis a rating of “weak” for social hazard and addictiveness, “very weak” for general toxicity and zero for neurotoxicity. In the most dangerous category, they included heroin and other opiates, and cocaine. Alcohol was also placed in this category because of its strong toxicity, its potential as a social hazard and its “very strong” addictiveness. In the middle category they placed stimulants such as amphetamines, hallucinogens and tobacco–largely because of its “very strong” addictiveness and toxicity. The authors point out that government’s base their decisions whether or not to prohibit a drug on its ability to induce dependence. They conclude that the official classification for some drugs is incorrect.” These are two very different sides. Yet another online site says, “Health officials in Geneva have suppressed the publication of a politically sensitive analysis that confirms what ageing hippies have known for decades: cannabis is safer than alcohol or tobacco. According to a document leaked to New Scientist, the analysis concludes not only that the amount of dope smoked worldwide does less harm to public health than drink and cigarettes, but that the same is likely to hold true even if people consumed dope on the same scale as these legal substances. The comparison was due to appear in a report on the harmful effects of cannabis published last December by the WHO. But it was ditched at the last minute following a long and intense dispute between WHO officials, the cannabis experts who drafted the report and a group of external advisers. As the WHO’s first report on cannabis for 15 years, the document had been eagerly awaited by doctors and specialists in drug abuse. The official explanation for excluding the comparison of dope with legal substances is that “the reliability and public health significance of such comparisons are doubtful”. However, insiders say the comparison was scientifically sound and that the WHO caved in to political pressure. It is understood that advisers from the US National Institute on Drug Abuse and the UN International Drug Control Programme warned the WHO that it would play into the hands of groups campaigning to legalise marijuana. One member of the expert panel which drafted the report, says: “In the eyes of some, any such comparison is tantamount to an argument for marijuana legalisation.” Another member, Billy Martin of the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, says that some WHO officials “went nuts” when they saw the draft report. The leaked version of the excluded section states that the reason for making the comparisons was “not to promote one drug over another but rather to minimise the double standards that have operated in appraising the health effects of cannabis”. Nevertheless, in most of the comparisons it makes between cannabis and alcohol, the illegal drug comes out better–or at least on a par–with the legal one. The report concludes, for example, that “in developed societies cannabis appears to play little role in injuries caused by violence, as does alcohol”. It also says that while the evidence for fetal alcohol syndrome is “good”, the evidence that cannabis can harm fetal development is “far from conclusive”. Cannabis also fared better in five out of seven comparisons of long-term damage to health. For example, the report says that while heavy consumption of either drug can lead to dependence, only alcohol produces a “well defined withdrawal syndrome”. And while heavy drinking leads to cirrhosis, severe brain injury and a much increased risk of accidents and suicide, the report concludes that there is only “suggestive evidence that chronic cannabis use may produce subtle defects in cognitive functioning”. Two comparisons were more equivocal. The report says that both heavy drinking and marijuana smoking can produce symptoms of psychosis in susceptible people. And, it says, there is evidence that chronic cannabis smoking “may be a contributory cause of cancers of the aerodigestive tract”. Well I wonder what the government’s own drug site (NIDA) says about marijuana, “People who smoke marijuana often develop the same kinds of breathing problems that cigarette smokers have: coughing and wheezing. They tend to have more chest colds than nonusers. They are also at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia. Animal studies have found that THC can damage the cells and tissues in the body that help protect people from disease. When the immune cells are weakened, you are more likely to get sick.” Another government site says, “Within a few minutes of inhaling marijuana smoke, users likely experience dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, some loss of coordination and poor sense of balance, and slower reaction times, along with intoxication. Blood vessels in the eye expand. For some people, marijuana raises blood pressure slightly and can double the normal heart rate. This effect can be greater when other drugs are mixed with marijuana. Research also has documented the following chronic or long-term effects of marijuana use. THC suppresses the neurons in the information-processing system of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is crucial for learning, memory, and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivation. Researchers have discovered that learned behaviors, which depend on the hippocampus, deteriorate after chronic exposure to THC. Chronic abuse of marijuana also is associated with impaired attention and memory, while prenatal exposure to marijuana is associated with impaired verbal reasoning and memory in preschool children. Of possible relevance are findings from animal studies showing that chronic exposure to THC damages and destroys nerve cells and causes other pathological changes in the hippocampus. Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers have. These individuals may have daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. Continuing to smoke marijuana can lead to abnormal functioning of the lungs and airways. Scientists have found signs of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke.” Well I am still in a search to find a site, which says is not quite as partial to either side. The government wants to make it sound very bad. The other sites all want to make sound like it not very bad so it becomes legalized. There is not one site I have as have yet that is not partial so I will keep adding highlights of all of the different sites. The only thing that all the sites say that smoking and driving are very bad combinations. NIDA says in a another report, “”Driving and marijuana do not mix; that’s the bottom line,” said Dr. Stephen J. Heishman, a research psychologist in the Clinical Pharmacology Branch of NIDA’s Division of Intramural Research. Figures from previous studies of automobile accident victims show that from 6 to 12 percent of nonfatally injured drivers and 4 to 16 percent of fatally injured drivers had tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in their bloodstream, Dr. Heishman said. One study showed that 32 percent of drivers in a shock trauma unit in Baltimore had marijuana in their bloodstream, he noted. However, in most of these studies, the majority of subjects who tested positive for THC also tested positive for alcohol, making it difficult to single out THC’s effect on driving. In a laboratory study at NIDA’s Addiction Research Center in Baltimore that controlled for alcohol’s confounding effect, Dr. Heishman tested marijuana’s effects on the functional components of driving. Study subjects smoked a marijuana cigarette, waited 10 minutes, then smoked another cigarette. Both cigarettes contained either 0, 1.8, or 3.6 percent THC. Twenty minutes after smoking the cigarettes, the subjects were given a standard sobriety test similar to a roadside sobriety test. The test showed that marijuana significantly impaired their ability to stand on one leg for 30 seconds or touch their finger to their nose. As the dose of THC increased, the subjects swayed more, raised their arms, and had to put their feet down in an attempt to maintain their balance. Subjects also committed 2.5 times more errors when they attempted to touch their nose with their finger. The data from these laboratory studies show that marijuana impairs balance and coordination – functional components important to driving – in a dose-related way, said Dr. Heishman. These effects may be related to reported marijuana-induced impairment of automobile driving, he stated. Highway and urban driving studies conducted in the Netherlands show less impact on actual driving. However, these driving studies used very low doses of marijuana for safety reasons, Dr. Heishman said. Future research using appropriate safety measures should test the effect of higher doses of marijuana on driving as well as the combined effect of marijuana and alcohol on driving, he concluded. In another study, Dr. Wayne Lehman of Texas Christian University looked at how marijuana affects job performance. A series of surveys he conducted among 4,600 municipal employees in four cities in the Southwest indicated that 8 percent of employees had smoked marijuana in the past year, and a large percentage of these users had smoked marijuana in the past month, Dr. Lehman said. “Employees who report marijuana use are different from nonusers,” said Dr. Lehman. They are much more likely than nonusers to have arrest histories, low self-esteem, high rates of depression, and friends who are deviant. Many marijuana smokers also have alcohol-related problems. One-third of marijuana users in the surveys reported they drank frequently, one-half said they got drunk, and 60 percent reported a problem with alcohol use, according to Dr. Lehman. This behavioral pattern in the personal backgrounds of marijuana-smoking employees was associated with negative attitudes toward work and job performance, Dr. Lehman said. The surveys found that marijuana users were less likely than nonusers to commit to the organization, had less faith in management, and experienced low job satisfaction. These workers reported more absenteeism, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover than workers who had not used marijuana. They were also more likely to report to work with a hangover, miss work because of a hangover, and be drunk or use drugs at work. These data indicate that marijuana use is strongly associated with problematic alcohol use and a pattern of general deviance that leads to impaired behaviors and poor workplace performance, Dr. Lehman concluded.” It goes on to say, “Regular heavy marijuana use compromises the ability to learn and remember information primarily by impairing the ability to focus, sustain, and shift attention, says Dr. Harrison Pope, Jr., of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, who directed the recent study. Noting that the actual ability to recall information remains relatively unaffected, Dr. Pope says, “If you could get heavy users to learn an item, then they could remember it; the problem was getting them to learn it in the first place.” In the study conducted among college students, Dr. Pope and Dr. Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, also of McLean Hospital, tested the cognitive functioning of 65 heavy cannabis users, most of whom had smoked marijuana at least 27 out of the previous 30 days. The researchers compared the heavy users’ cognitive functioning to that of a comparison group of 64 light users, most of whom had smoked marijuana on no more than 3 of the previous 30 days. Heavy users ranged in age from 18 to 24 years and light users from 18 to 28 years. The two groups were similar demographically and had comparable numbers of men and women. Subjects in both groups had smoked marijuana for at least 2 years, and none had smoked regularly for more than a decade. To ensure that the subjects did not smoke marijuana or use other illicit drugs or alcohol during the study, researchers monitored them for 19 to 24 hours. Then the subjects performed a battery of standard tests designed to assess their ability to pay attention, learn, and recall new information. The tests indicated that heavy marijuana users had more difficulty than light users in sustain-ing and shifting attention and hence in registering, organizing, and using information. Heavy users exhibited these cognitive deficits by being less able than light users were to learn word lists; by making a greater number of errors in sorting cards by different characteristics, such as by color or shape; and by making more errors when the rules for sorting the cards were changed without warning. Men in the heavy users group showed somewhat greater impairment than women in the same group. While the residual cognitive impairments detected in the study were not severe, they could be significant in the day-to-day life of chronic users, Dr. Pope says. The diminished ability to pay attention and decreased mental flexibility exhibited in these tests may cause chronic marijuana users important difficulties in adapting to intellectual and interpersonal tasks, he says.” Well I don’t know which ones to believe. They all have done lots of research as well as I. I think that most likely NIDA is right because it is run by the government. The government may be trying to make it sound worse then it is though. No matter what though marijuana is a very harmful drugs. It should not be used by anyone.
Grolier Electronic Encylopedia, Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1995 Grolier Wellness Encyclopedia, Drugs, Society & Behavior. Vol. 3, 1992. Ethan A. Nadelmann, American Heritage Magazine, Feb-Mar, 1993. Medical Marijuana, http://www.lec.org/Drug_Watch/ Public/Documents/Med_Marijuana_Paper.htm, 1995.