What is Marijuana?
Marijuana refers to the flowering top and leaves of a plant known as cannabis sativa. The plant contains a powerful mind-altering chemical known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short. THC is the chemical that causes most of the drug affects of marijuana.
Hashish is the dried residue that accumulates on the tops and undersides of cannabis leaves. Hash oil is a concentrated form of hashish. Hashish and hash oil have higher concentrations of TCH and are more potent than marijuana.
How & Why is Marijuana Abused?
Smoking is the most common method of using marijuana, but it may also be taken orally and is sometimes mixed in beverages or taken with food.
Feelings of heightened awareness, or a detached or amusing view of life is experienced. Marijuana smokers become more talkative, noisy, and overly happy. Anything can seem silly or funny, even though it may appear frightening or reckless to those not under the influence.
However, not all feelings are pleasant for the smoker. A common reaction to marijuana abuse is an extreme sense of losing control which leads to feelings of fear and panic.
Affects on the Mind & Body
When THC enters the brain, smokers become confused in their thinking. They have trouble concentrating and remembering. Time slows down, and vision is distorted to the point where objects seem to change in appearance or distance.
Studies show that marijuana can impair short term memory and reduce ability to do things which require concentration, swift reactions and coordination. Abusers are unable to function effectively while engaging in physical activities, operating equipment, or while driving a motor vehicle. If the smoker uses alcohol along with marijuana, the risk of accidents are greatly increased.
When young people smoke marijuana regularly, they often lose interest and motivation in work or school activities. The effects of marijuana can interfere with learning by impairing thinking ability, reading comprehension, and communication skills.
Marijuana smoke contains the same harmful cancer causing chemicals found in tobacco. Research has shown marijuana cigarettes contribute to the development of malignant lesions in the lungs. Marijuana smoking inhibits the immune system, over stimulates the heart, and causes a variety of other harmful affects to the mind and body.
Is Marijuana Really a Problem?
The earlier young people start to smoke marijuana, the more likely they will become psychologically dependent. Marijuana has also been known to be a “gateway” drug, leading some users toward such drugs as cocaine, methamphetamine, and the excessive use of alcohol. The use of marijuana has led some users to engage in the practice of inhaling various toxic substances leading to severe brain dysfunction and loss of life.
Many marijuana users would like to convince themselves and others that pot is a harmless drug. But, even infrequent use of marijuana disturbs emotions and limits the user’s ability to think creatively. Pot users may also display patterns of irritability, accusation and blame directed toward close family members, co-workers and friends who are undeserving of such treatment.
Marijuana use has been directly linked to lost friendships, failure to meet financial obligations, disrupted family relationships and broken marriages. In the workplace, the use of marijuana has been identified as a cause of poor work performance, lost productively and threats to safety.
Signs & Symptoms
Chronic marijuana users display behaviors very similar to people with functional brain damage. Young people who smoke marijuana heavily over long periods are often described by their fellow students as “Burnouts” or “Loads”. Marijuana smokers who have reached this stage become dull, slow moving, and inattentive. They are sometimes so unaware of their surroundings that they cannot respond when friends or family members speak to them.
Other Symptoms Include:
- Diminished will power
- Thought confusion
- Impaired judgment
- Hostility toward authority
- Careless attitudes
- Eating extremes
- Frequent cold symptoms
- Increased use of air fresheners
- Stashes of marijuana
- Hidden drug paraphernalia
- Depression and fatigue