What is Marijuana or Cannabis?
Cannabis sativa is the plant that gives the flowers and leaves which after a drying process becomes a green mixture called marijuana. Hashish is made of a resinous substance of the cannabis plant.
Common Names for Marijuana
Cannabis contains specific chemicals called cannabinoids. These chemicals include cannabinoid acids, cannabinol, cannabigerol, cannabidiol, cannabichromene, and different isomers of tetrahydrocannabinol. It is interesting that only one of these isomers (Δ 9-THC) is responsible for most of the psychoactive symptoms that cannabis give in people who are smoking it.
Marijuana is made from the leaves and flowering tops of the cannabis plant; most people choose to use the buds, these have higher amounts of THC. If you smoke hashish you should know it contains the resinous substance of the plant. This secretion is collected, dried, crushed and smoked. Some people use even hashish oil. This oil is made by extracting the cannabinoids from the plant with a specific solvent. In the U. S., there are several controlled substances: hashish and hashish oil, and marijuana.
When someone is smoking marijuana can experience a large spectrum of symptoms. Usually, marijuana is considered a drug which has sedative, stimulant, tranquilizing and hallucinogen properties. When you smoke marijuana you will get really hungry.
Marijuana used as a medicine
Marijuana is used in many cases of anorexia in people with AIDS and it can also relieve nausea and vomiting in people who are following a chemotherapy treatment. This plant is used by many people to calm their mind, and to feel “high”. It seems like this is the most common used illegal drug throughout the world.
A hit is usually called a single intake of smoke from a pipe or joint. If the THC content is low, a person needs more hits to become euphoric and to experience all the effects of marijuana. Those who use hash oil normally need only a drop or two of this oil to experience all the desired effects.
Most people smoke marijuana as a cigarette called the joint. Some people consume marijuana in special cookies.
Does marijuana alter a person’s perception?
Marijuana alters the behavior of a person, the perception, the memory, the learning process, the cognition, the amount of food this person consumes, the endocrine function and it also regulates the body’s temperature.
Common effects produced by marijuana
If it is used in recreational doses, the effects are:
- the sense of well-being
- relaxed inhibitions
- altered time and space perception
- impaired learning and memory
- lack of concentration
- alterations in thought formation and expression
- amplified sense of taste, sight, smell, and hearing
- psychosis when stronger doses are consumed
People who consume marijuana have red eyes, dry mouth, and throat, they feel their hearts beating faster, they feel hungry and they experience vasodilatation.
The effects produced by smoking marijuana can be acute, persistent and long-term. It is important to know this information. This way you can detect for how long a person consumed marijuana.
Acute (these symptoms are present only during intoxication)
- Increased heart rate
- Impaired short-term memory
- Psychosis (in rare cases)
- Impaired coordination and balance
- Impaired attention, judgment, and other cognitive functions
- Anxiety and/or paranoia
Persistent (these symptoms last longer than the period of time when the person is intoxicated, but they are not permanent)
- Impaired learning and coordination
- Sleep issues
Long-term (these symptoms are caused by the cumulative effects of repeated marijuana use)
- Potential for marijuana addiction
- Increased risk of a chronic cough, bronchitis
- Increased risk of schizophrenia in people with mental disorders
- Impairments in learning and memory with risk of loss of IQ
- Increased risk of other drug and alcohol use disorders
Side effects of consuming marijuana
There are many side effects of consuming marijuana such as:
- possible psychosis
- memory problems
- slurred speech
- urinary retention
- behavioral changes
- mood alterations
- decreased motor coordination
- lung damage
- reproductive, cardiovascular and immunological damages
- severe cough
When an individual smokes marijuana and shoots up cocaine he is exposing himself to the risk of having a heart attack. This combination increases the heart rate and the blood pressure.
How long it takes until the effects of marijuana are gone?
After you start smoking marijuana you feel the effects in just a few minutes. These effects reach their peak in 10-30 minutes after using marijuana. Most marijuana smokers feel “high” for 2 hours after they smoked. After 3-5 hours after marijuana smoking, a person returns to normal reactions and behavior. The selective attention it seems like it is affected a long time after periods of abstinence.
Marijuana addiction and withdrawal symptoms
Marijuana smokers can become addicted to this drug. They feel the craving and they seek to consume marijuana even if their personal and social life are in danger. Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal are:
- mild agitation
- decreased appetite
- increased dreaming (in those who manage to sleep)
Marijuana and other medication
It is recommended to avoid consuming marijuana with cocaine and amphetamines. The combination can increase hypertension, leading to tachycardia and possible cardiotoxicity. It is also recommended not to mix marijuana with ethanol, benzodiazepines, opioids, antihistamines, barbiturates, muscle relaxants because it increases drowsiness and can even lead to depression. Do not consume marijuana with alcohol. You might end up in life-threatening situations because of the effects this combination has on the body.
Performance effects of marijuana
Marijuana causes different problems such as:
- memory and learning
- difficulty in thinking and problem-solving
- difficulty in sustaining attention
- distorted perception
- loss of coordination
- impairment of hand-eye coordination
- loss of coordination in divided attention tasks
- distortion of time and distance
- impairment in retention time and tracking
Can someone consume marijuana and drive?
The drug companies warn the patients receiving Marinol medication to avoid driving the car until they are sure they can tolerate the drug and function properly. Different statistics showed that a high number of people get arrested because they drink alcohol or smoke marijuana and then they drive the car. When a person is under the influence of these substances he or she has impaired time and distance estimation, sleepiness, impaired sustained vigilance, decreased car handling performance, inability to maintain the car on the road, increased reaction times, lateral travel, and motor incoordination. Combining alcohol and marijuana it can produce severe effects, more difficult to handle than when each drug it is consumed on its own.
How to spot a marijuana user?
- The pupil size is normal to dilate in a person who smoked marijuana.
- The reaction to light is normal to slow.
- The blood pressure is usually elevated.
- The pulse rate is elevated as well.
- The body temperature can be higher than normally.
- You can tell if a person smoked marijuana by the smell of this plant in the car, in the person’s breath.
- A person who smokes marijuana has a green coating of the tongue.
- The eyes are all red and you might even observe an eyelid tremor.
- The smoker has relaxed inhibitions, and cannot finish properly the sentences.
As we said before, marijuana has negative effects on memory, attention, and learning. These effects can last for days or weeks after the person stopped consuming the drug. If a person consumes marijuana on a daily basis, he or she will function at a reduced intellectual level. Students who smoke marijuana have poor results in school. A review of 48 relevant studies showed that marijuana can make difficult for smokers to learn during school or even to graduate. A recent study made in Australia and New Zealand observed that teenagers used with the consumption of marijuana were less likely than their non-smoker colleagues to finish high school or even to obtain a degree. These young adults have a much higher chance of developing marijuana addiction, of using other drugs, and to attempt to take their lives. Many studies showed that marijuana users have lower income or they do not have a job at all, they develop criminal behavior, and have a lower quality of life.
In one study, experts compared current and former long-term, heavy smokers of marijuana with another group who reported smoking marijuana a couple of times in their lives, but not more than 50 times. The participants in the study had similar education and income backgrounds. Specialists found differences though in their educational level. Only a few of the heavy marijuana smokers graduated college. These participants were asked how marijuana affected their career achievements, physical and mental performance, cognitive abilities, and social lives. They all said that marijuana had negative effects, affecting all these areas of their lives.
Studies examined the links between marijuana use and negative consequences in the workplace. The use of marijuana can increase the risk for severe injuries and accidents. Experts made one research among postal workers. The study concluded that individuals who tested positive for marijuana on a pre-employment urine drug test had 85 % more injuries, 55 % more industrial accidents, and 75 % greater absenteeism compared with those people who tested negative for marijuana use.
Is a person smoking marijuana happier than a non-smoker?
It seems like weed smokers are not necessarily happy people. Many heavy users admitted that this drug affected their lives in a negative way. Many areas of their lives were impacted. It was the case of their job performance, their health, and their social life.
The idea of legalizing marijuana everywhere in the United States is very delicate. Many factors are involved, including the social ones. The toxicity of the drug has to be considered when such a decision is taken. We have the example of alcohol which is sold legally, but it affects people on long-term and many have to deal with years of rehab to put their lives back on track.
A number of studies showed that marijuana smoker has an increased risk of making lung cancer. A Harvard study reported that a middle-aged person who smokes marijuana can have a heart attack. The risk of having a heart attack in these people alarmingly increased during the first hour after they consumed weed. This is important information for the so-called baby boomers. They started smoking in their 20s and continued to use of marijuana in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Other studies concluded that women who smoke during pregnancy can cause severe damages in fetuses. These babies have impaired disease resistance and develop different health problems.
Interesting facts about marijuana
The marijuana plant can be used for other purposes as well, not only for smoking; the fibers can also be made into rope or fabric. In the past, people used hemp rope as a way to transport giant stone statues. In 2012, archaeologists asked themselves how ancient people moved the 4.35 metric tons heads from their places on the Easter Island. Some experts suggested even extraterrestrial help. But the archaeologist Carl Lipo proved they were wrong using only hemp rope.
People used medicinal marijuana to ease pain caused by glaucoma or to relieve nausea caused by chemotherapy. The man’s best friend is benefiting now from the use of medicinal marijuana. Pet owners start using marijuana to ease the pain of their dogs and cats, says the author of an article published in 2013 article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Veterinarians say that the animals who consume marijuana stop feeling the effects of the drug within a few hours after the ingestion. Avoid giving to your pet marijuana in large quantities; it can be deadly for them.
Most of the studies examined the health effects of marijuana on the brain. Especially on people who developed schizophrenia and other psychotic problems after consuming high doses of this drug. Now scientists are asking themselves if marijuana can cause heart issues or heart attacks. In France, experts concluded that in 2.000 cases of medical problems from pot smoking, more than 2% of people suffered severe heart issues and some had even fatal heart attacks. It is a fact that marijuana can increase the heart rate and the blood pressure.
A wine lover is familiar with different wine grapes such as Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and Cabernet. A pot smoker, on the other hand, can choose different marijuana types with interesting names like “chocolope”, “purple haze,” and “green crack.” These names were given back in 1970 when people started growing marijuana in their house. In the beginning people brought the plant from exotic places such as Hawaii.
There are certain areas where people can feel the smell of pot very frequent. You are not going to believe, but one of these places is actually Rome. In 2012, a study conducted in Italy, found specific traces of marijuana in the air, around important touristic places. Experts found marijuana and cocaine, caffeine and nicotine in the air of eight important cities: Bologna, Palermo, Rome, Naples, Florence, Milan, Turin, and Verona. The levels of marijuana and other substances are very low and they do not affect human health. If you visit these cities you do not have to worry, you are safe.
In a hospital in North Carolina, doctors noticed that many newborns came out positive when tested for marijuana. They first believed the mothers smoked pot during pregnancy. The doctors wanted to involve even the social services in solving this case. What was interesting was that the babies weren’t exposed to marijuana smoking. The soaps used to wash the babies had a few ingredients which caused a false positive result on marijuana urine tests.
People who grow illegally marijuana can have health problems. It is the case of many workers from a village from Albania who came to the hospital with severe symptoms such as stomach pain, vomiting, and irregular heartbeats. It seems like more than half of Albania is growing marijuana illegally.
Marijuana is studied by many specialists around the world. They want to determine exactly how this drug affects the human body on a short and on a long term. The experts are also interested in understanding how marijuana components can be used in different situations when treating people with severe illnesses. It is important to be aware of all the effects marijuana has on the human body when you consider smoking or consuming this drug.