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Marijuana Abuse and Dependence
The most popular illegal drug in America is marijuana. It is estimated to be a 10 billion dollar a year crop in the United States, which would make it our third largest agricultural crop. A significant percentage of high school seniors have smoked marijuana, and studies indicate that at least a few of these students smoke it everyday.
The hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) from which marijuana is derived contains more than 400 chemicals including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The THC in marijuana is what gets someone "stoned" and is probably responsible for the hunger many people experience after using marijuana.
Marijuana cigarettes are made from the leaves and tops of the plant. The amount of THC varies from plant to plant and from cigarette to cigarette. Hashish, a more powerful derviative drug prepared from the resin of the hemp plant, contains far greater concentrations of the psychoactive THC.
If you smoke marijuana, THC is quickly absorbed from your lungs into your bloodstream and rapidly distributed to most tissues and organs of your body. To eliminate THC, your liver converts the substance into waste products (metabolites). Most of these metabolites are excreted through the feces and urine. The rate at which they are cleared from your body is slower than that of many other psychoactive drugs. If you smoke marijuana regularly and then stop, THC can be found in your urine for more than 4 weeks after use.
The effects of marijuana are almost immediate, especially if you smoke it. Your pulse quickens by as much as 50 percent, depending on the potency of the marijuana. People with a poor blood supply to the heart may have chest pains.
Most people experience a feeling of relaxation and mild euphoria. Some first-time users undergo an acute pain reaction in which they feel they are losing control. This panic usually subsides within a few hours. Depending on the level of intoxication, some people have trouble remembering events that happened while "high" and experience difficulty in performing functions that require concentration, rapid reactions, and physical coordination. High doses of marijuana may produce many of the same behavioral effects as severe alcohol intoxication. Although the high may subside, many of the negative effects may linger for up to 6 hours after you smoke marijuana.
Chronic marijuana smokers show evidence of decreased lung capacity and chronic bronchial irritation. Marijuana also may contain the fungus Aspergillus. Studies suggest that serious lung infections may result from inhaling this organism. Because chronic marijuana smoking may impair your body's immune system, your lungs may be more susceptible to this and other infections.
Regular daily marijuana smokers often inhale the smoke deeply and retain it in their lungs as long as possible to increase their "high". This practice also increases the risk of damage to the lungs.
Marijuana is occasionally contaminated by animal droppings containing Salmonella bacteria either at the time of drying or during storage. This organism, which is not destroyed by drying, can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. A herbicide called paraquat, widely used by the government to destroy marijuana plants, poses another kind of health hazard. If plants sprayed with paraquat are harvested before exposure to sunlight, unaltered paraquat remains on the leaves. This herbicide is highly toxic to humans and can cause irreversible damage to the lungs.
Clinical testing suggests that marijuana may have a negative effect on the human reproductive system, possibly causing irregular menstrual cycles in women and a temporary loss of fertility in both men and women. Some studies have suggested that there may be a significant relationship between heavy use of marijuana during pregnancy and premature birth.
Depending on the length of use and the potency of the marijuana you use, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued. Some of the mild or moderate symptoms are tremors, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, and sleep disturbances. However, these withdrawal symptoms are usually mild compared with those of heavy opiate or alcohol use, and they rarely require medical attention.
Although often misunderstood and misrepresented to the public, marijuana clearly is a drug of dependence. Regular use often results in the same type of drug dependence described for other substances.
What are it's physical effects?
A person cannot smoke himself to death with marijuana.
But he can kill himself with enough purified or even just semipurified THC, the psychoactive substance of marijuana.
The physical effects, while on a pot "high," are:
The Eyes: fevered eyes, blurred vision. The whites of the eyes redden.
Pulse & Heart: increased heartbeat, increased pulsebeat. But the blood pressure can fall. Speech: slurred, impaired speech.
The Brain: impaired thinking, impaired time and space sense. There, too, is a tendency to get drowsy and sleepy.
The Mouth: dried mouth, dried throat.
The Lungs: irritated lungs, imperilled lungs. A coughing bout is a usual effect, due to irritation of the lungs by the smoke deeply inhaled by the pot user.
Arms & Legs: light, weak, unsteady.
Balance: impaired, with the user suffering greater inability to maintain balance as dosage increases.
The marijuana user can also suffer: "cigarette cough," dizziness, nausea, convulsions, vomiting.
Potheads claim sharpened sensory awareness while in their drugged state. But laboratory tests do not confirm this.
What Are Its Mental Effects?
As in LSD, it can be a "good trip" or a "bad trip," a pleasure or a horror travel in the mind. It all depends, again as in LSD, on: amount of the drug taken, mental makeup of the user, atmosphere in which the drug is taken. Given these, Mary Jane can yield:
Passive Euphoria. This is what they call a "high," a feeling of buoyant wellbeing. "You are in bliss, in paradise, in your own never-never land," a good-tripper raves. An English writer Uki- "You get illusions of your fancy, a life of selfindulgent dreaming. All pass before you in your Maya world of grass." It is, pot advocates say, "a withdrawal into a world of the senses, the best of all nossible worlds."
Paranoia. In Greek, the word ineans: madness. It is exactly what a "bad trip" with Jane can give, an acute Theling of being the target of harm or death by others. THC's sinister elements trigger suspicions in the user. This leads him to psychotic (insane) fits which, in turn, can confuse, panic and lead him to hurt or kill the object(s) of his suspicions. He is out of joint with reality: mentally deranged, even if only temporarily. Without the use of marUuana, the psychotic tendencies generally remain controlled.
Distortion of Senses. Marijuana, like LSD, warps the senses. Speech gets slurred, vision becomes blurred, hearing turns low, feel is deadened or sharpened, sense of body and time is contorted; ideas become disjointed and flow freely. Accidents have occurred due to impaired judgment and time-space distortions resulting from pot.
LSD Type Hallucinations. Acute dosages of marijuana can alter a user's sense of identity, fragment his thoughts, bring forth powerful LSD-type visions and hallucinations. For him, the world becomes a rapid stream of other-worldly events. He is, in such a state, torn away from time, space and self. He suffers a sense of personal unreality. Tbis can create mental jolts and storms in his mind, cause psychosis .in him. Uncontrolled laughter or crying (or, first, wild giggling; then, insufferable terror) is a sign the pothead is on a bad journey. Criminal acts are sometimes committed by a pothead in such a state.
Personality Changes. Other subjective effects are no less scaring: anxiety and worry, apathy and lethargy, suggestibility and sus- ceptibility, distractability and inability to handle complex tasks, aggressiveness and belligerency, self-neglect and carelessness, delusions of grandeur and magical thinking, loss of insight, impairment of judgment and memory, withdrawal to one's self and antisocial behavior. Sapped of drive, the pothead drops out of school and out of society. These sum up to: an altered mind, an altered person.
All of these show: marijuana changes the whole pattern of life of the user, the young principally. Jt gives them antisocial attitudes. They suffer degeneration of values in the hands of the drug. They become non existent people "dropouts" and "cop-outs," in the language of the drugs subculture.
A thing to remember is: an experiment with marijuana, as with other drugs, is a quest into the unknown. An initial "good trip" does not assure the next trip will be equally good. It can be a "bad trip," a trip in horror and terror. It can trigger off the still unknown something in the psychic mechanism: the primal fears of helplessness and powerlessness. It can fire the jnind back and forth, like a missile. It can evoke all that is sick and terrible in the mind.
To those who will experiment with marijuana in the name of "self-discovery," the potheads' usual excuse, a warning must therefore be flashed: BEWARE! A pot smoker is lucky if it simply leaves him with a fogged mind and a sore throat. But it can, if the devil in the grass really works on him, leave him: physically wrecked, mentally decayed. It is, indeed, a really tricky, dangerous and damaging drug.
Marijuana has no approved medical use.
Some researchers are attempting to determine, however, whether THC may have appetite-enhancing, anti-convulsant or anti-depressant capabilities.
It was used before as a treatment for a viriety of clinical disorders: as an analgesic, a poultice for corns, in other ways. All these supposed medical uses were found, however, to be either undersound, inefficient, or without predictable effect. Hence, the drug was removed from the official drug lists of nearly all countries.
It is noted, too, that opium and morphine were proclaimed as "curses" for drug addicts when these were first discovered. They were found to be worse addiciting drugs than the drugs they sought to cure.