Monday, May 2, 2011
Facts About Marijuana
Basic Facts About Drugs: Marijuana What is Marijuana? Call it pot, grass, weeds, or any of nearly 200 other names, marijuana is, by far, the world's most commonly used drugs, and far more dangerous than most users realize. Thus, there is only a reason for alarm when adolescent marijuana use increases, as did the mid-1990s, and the age at which young people first experiment with pot starts to drops.
Marijuana has been around for a long time. Its source, the hemp plant (cannabis sativa) is cultivated for psychoactive properties more than 2,000 years. Although cannabis contains at least 400 different chemicals, the main mind-altering ingredient THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The amount of THC in marijuana determines the drug strength, and THC levels are affected by many factors, including plant species, weather, soil, and harvest time. Sophisticated cannabis cultivation of today produces high levels of THC and marijuana that is far more potent than pot of the past. THC content of marijuana, which averaged less than 1 percent in 1974, rose to an average of 4 percent until 1994. For a very popular form of marijuana called Sinsemilla (from the Spanish "without seeds"), only the buds and flowering tops of female plants, THC content averages 7.5 percent and ranges as high as 24 percent.
As for the hashish, the resin from the flowers of female plants, THC levels can be five to ten times higher than crude marijuana. How do I use? Marijuana and other cannabis products are usually smoked, sometimes in a pipe or water pipe, but most often in loosely rolled cigarettes known as "joints." Some users will slice open and hollow out cigars, replacing tobacco with marijuana, to what are called "blunts." Joints and blunts may be laced with other substances, including crack cocaine and the potent hallucinogen phencyclidine (PCP), substantially alter the effects of drugs. Smoking, however, is not the only route of administration. Marijuana can be brewed in tea or mixed in baked products (cookies or brownies).
How Does it affect you? A mild hallucinogen, marijuana has some of alcohol and depression disinhibiting properties. User feedback, however, strongly influenced the expectations and experiences, and many first-time users feel nothing at all. The effects of smoking are generally felt within minutes and peaked at 10 to 30 minutes. They include dry mouth and throat, increased heart rate, impaired coordination and balance, delayed reaction time, and reduces short-term memory. Moderate doses tend to induce feelings of pleasure and a dreamy state of relaxation that encourages fantasies, it seems some users highly suggestible, and distorts perception (which is dangerous to operate machinery, drive a car or boat, or ride a bike). Stronger doses of rapid intense and often disturbing reactions including paranoia and hallucinations.
Most short-term effects of marijuana wear off within two or three hours. The drug is, however, tends to linger on. THC is fat-soluble substance and will accumulate in fatty tissue in the liver, lungs, testes and other organs. Two days after smoking marijuana, one quarter of the THC content may still be retained. It will show up in urine tests three days after use, and traces can be picked up by sensitive blood tests two to four weeks later. Impact on the mind marijuana use reduces learning ability.
Research is accumulating late show clearly that marijuana limits the ability to absorb and retain information. 1995 study of students found that heavy marijuana users inability to focus, sustain attention, and organize information lasts as long as 24 hours after last use of drugs. Earlier research, comparing cognitive abilities of adult marijuana users with non-using adults, found that users fall short on memory, as well as math and verbal skills.
Although not yet proven conclusively that heavy marijuana use can cause irreversible loss of intellectual capacity, animal studies have shown marijuana-induced structural damage to parts of the brain important for memory and learning. Impact on the body of chronic marijuana smokers are prey to chest colds, bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchial asthma.
Continuous use can damage the lungs and airways and raise the risk of cancer. There is just as much exposure to cancer-causing chemicals from smoking one marijuana joint as smoking five cigarettes. And there is evidence that marijuana may limit the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease. Marijuana also affects hormones. Regular use can delay the onset of puberty in young men and reduce sperm production.
For women, regular use may disrupt normal monthly menstrual cycles and inhibit ovulation. When pregnant women use marijuana, they run the risk of having small children with lower birth weights, which are more likely than other babies to develop health problems. Some studies have found indications of developmental delays in children exposed to marijuana before birth.
Marijuana as Medicine Although U.S. law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance (meaning it has no acceptable medical use), the number of patients claim that smoking pot has helped deal with the pain and relieve symptoms of glaucoma, loss of appetite that accompanies AIDS, or nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy.
However, there is no solid evidence that smoking marijuana creates any greater benefits than the allowable medications (including oral THC) now used to treat these patients, relieve their suffering, or mitigate the side effects of treatment. Anecdotal claims of beneficial effects have yet to be confirmed by controlled scientific research.
Although teens and marijuana are the dangers of marijuana for all ages, the risk is greater for young people. For them, the impact of marijuana on learning is critical, and often showed a pot in the central failure of the master vital interpersonal coping skills or make appropriate lifestyle choices. Thus, marijuana may prevent the due date. Another problem is marijuana's role as a gateway drug, "which makes subsequent use of more potent and disabling substances more likely.
Centre for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found adolescents who smoke pot 85 times more likely to use cocaine than their non-pot smoking peers . And 60 percent of youth who use marijuana before they turn 15 later go on to use cocaine. But many teens encounter serious trouble well short "gateway." Marijuana is, by itself, a high-risk substance for adolescents. More than adults, they are likely to be victims of car accidents caused by marijuana influence on the verdict and perception. casual sex, prompted by compromised verdict or marijuana disinhibiting effects, leaves them vulnerable not only to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Marijuana damaging perception Reduced short term memory loss and concentration and coordination of damage verdicts increased risk of accidents Loss of motivation Diminished inhibitions Increased heart rate Anxiety, panic attacks and paranoia Hallucinations Damage to the respiratory, reproductive and immune system, increased risk of cancer Psychological dependency