I am fed up with marijuana polluting the minds of our youth, friends, family and population. The argument has been stated too many times that marijuana is natural, good and that it has no bad effects. These statements are ridiculously wrong and are nothing but propaganda in favor of marijuana use from the people who use it or sell it. The focus of this information is not to debate legalization of this drug for medicinal purposes; rather my focus will point out the bad effects of irresponsible recreational use. This harmful drug is illegal for a reason. It is a fact that marijuana is a powerful, mind altering drug that has increased in potency by 400 percent in the last 25 years and I have seen what can happen to people after short term and long term use.
Think about where marijuana comes from, how our family, friends and population get it and what chemicals are added to it without our knowledge. The fact is that we are at war with terrorists who could poison an already illegal substance that already gets smuggled in to our nation to poison our children, friends, family and an estimated 50% of our population.
Think about this: “Nearly 45% of teenagers in the United States have smoked cannabis before graduation from high school” (Bodkin, Singh and Corcoran) . It is believed that the total amount of our population that has experimented with marijuana is much higher than 45%. The negative effects of marijuana use far outweigh the good effects because of the immediate mental and physical impairment of the drug during use, mental illness, long term and short term memory loss, learning difficulties, lowering of IQ, negative effects on the body, reproduction problems and countless other reasons that are not listed here.
Marijuana goes by many names, such as pot, weed, grass, smoke or cannabis to name a few. In a known chemical composition of marijuana, the main reacting chemical is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC “Marijuana is a mind altering drug, a hallucinogen and has some depressant properties. The immediate reaction of marijuana is influenced by past experiences and expectations. Many first time users do not feel anything” (Phoenix House American Council for Drug Education) . “The effects of smoking weed are usually felt within a few minutes and last for a couple of hours. The effects include a false sense of well being while in a distorted state of relaxation, dry mouth and throat, increased heart rate that is usually around 50% higher than normal, impaired coordination and balance, delayed reaction time, and diminished short term memory.” Also, “Many users tend to feel paranoia and hallucinate on occasion” (Phoenix House American Council for Drug Education) . According to H. Valerie Curran et al. “Dizziness is the main effect of the drug” (61). Another important point is, “Studies of marijuana’s mental effects show that the drug can impair or reduce short-term memory, alter sense of time and reduce ability to do things which require concentration, swift reactions, and coordination, such as driving a car or operating machinery” (Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse ) .
Marijuana is being passed off as a natural drug with positive calming benefits by it’s advocates but the public and society’s youth should be aware that marijuana has many harmful mental health effects that cannot be ignored. Heavy marijuana use may be linked to depression, panic, anxiety, flashbacks, suicidal ideation, schizophrenia and psychosis in individuals with a genetic predisposition or behavioral symptoms. “Much evidence shows that psychotic disorders and the use of drugs, especially cannabis, occur together more often than chance would predict” (Bodkin, Singh and Corcoran) . Furthermore, “Some of these studies have shown age at first use to be a factor, where early use is a marker of vulnerability to later problems,” (NIDA Infofacts: Marijuana) . Relating to panic attacks, “Substance abuse and the withdrawal of the substance being abused can mimic panic attacks” (Neal) . In relation to flashbacks, a study of high school students by H.M. Annis and R.G. Smart, concluded that “A substantial number of students were found to have experienced recurrences of marijuana effects while not using the drug. When questioned about recurrences, explicitly defined as ‘unpleasant effects’, about 1 in 7 students reported having experienced such recurrences.” Flashbacks can be very dangerous because they are unpredictable of when they may occur. Furthermore, according to Primary Psychiatry “some investigators have concluded that, in fact, cannabis use can lead in some youths to the development of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. It has been estimated that cannabis use accounts for 1-2 new cases of schizophrenia for every 100 individuals annually and that 8 % to 13% of all cases of schizophrenia can be attributed to cannabis use (ie, attributable risk). Of note, this percentage is larger than the 5.5% associated with genetic risk for schizophrenia, ie, having an affected first-degree relative” (Bodkin, Singh and Corcoran) . In short, there is a chance that marijuana can cause some form of mental illness in a healthy person, but it will most assuredly bring it to surface of someone who already has it in their genetic make-up.
Marijuana use reduces a person’s learning ability and IQ. Research shows that marijuana use limits the ability of the mind to absorb and retain information. A study of current marijuana use in young adults from the Canadian Medical Association Journal indicates that “marijuana use was significantly correlated in a dose related fashion with a decline in IQ over the ages studied. The comparison of the IQ difference scores showed an average decrease of 4.1 points in current heavy users (page).” In short, this means that weed makes you stupid. “A 1995 study of college students discovered the inability of heavy marijuana users to focus, sustain attention and organize data, this persists for as long as 24 hours after their last use of the drug. 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” (Phoenix House American Council for Drug Education) .
Marijuana has many physical and chemical effects on the body. It is absorbed in to the fat cells and has been known to have a diuretic effect on humans. “In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. This may be due to the increased heart rate as well as effects of marijuana on heart rhythms, causing palpations and arrhythmias. This risk may be greater in aging populations or those with cardiac vulnerabilities” (NIDA Infofacts: Marijuana) . Also, “Marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increase the lungs’ exposure to carcinogenic smoke” (NIDA Infofacts: Marijuana) .
Another important point is that “marijuana smokers are prone to chest colds, bronchitis, emphysema and bronchial asthma. Persistent use will damage 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 tobacco cigarettes. There is also evidence that marijuana may limit the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease” (Phoenix House American Council for Drug Education) . Smoking marijuana has many dangerous side effects just like any other legal, illegal, or over the counter drug, but propaganda in favor of weed sways the public to ignore the evidence because the drug is marketed as being natural and is not regulated or processed like tobacco is. Although it is natural the chemicals in marijuana are more dangerous and far more potent than ever and produce horrific but avoidable effects that include cancer risks.
Marijuana also negatively affects the human reproductive system. Marijuana reduces male sperm production and also inhibits ovulation in females. “It is well recognized that the active components of marijuana – as well as the endogenously synthesized endocannabinoids – negatively affect sperm functions, both in invertebrates and vertebrates, impairing the fertilization process and thus reproductive function”(Rossato, Pagano and Vettor) . Also, “Research studies suggest that the use of marijuana during pregnancy may result in premature babies and in low birth weights. Studies of men and women may have a temporary loss of fertility. These findings suggest that marijuana may be especially harmful during adolescence, a period of rapid physical and sexual development” (Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse ) . Also, “For women regular use may disrupt normal monthly menstrual cycles and inhibit ovulation. Some studies have also found indications of developmental delays in children exposed to marijuana before birth” (Phoenix House American Council for Drug Education) . In a nut shell, weed will have bad effects on your sex life and will cause problems with reproduction in males and females, along with birth defects of babies.
In conclusion, marijuana use has done more harm than good in our society and the bad effects far outweigh the good.
The immediate impairment, mental health complications, IQ reduction, memory loss and learning difficulties, negative physical effects on the body and reproductive problems of marijuana use are just a few of the harmful effects marijuana has on people and are some of the reasons it remains illegal. Also, with an unknown source of manufacturing, distribution and chemical composition, marijuana is even more dangerous to use, but even if marijuana were regulated, it would still have far too many of these proven negative effects. With that stated, the only time marijuana use could be acceptable, is when it is prescribed by a physician for treatment and when the patient is informed of the side effects, but doctors rarely do this because of the side effects. Another point to consider is the possibility of terrorists attacking our youth, friends and population through the already illegal drug supply. A recent discovery by scientists who once believed that humans had a fixed amount of brain cells that were depleted over our life span with no regeneration has discovered that it is possible for humans to generate some types of new brain cells. This is good news for any person who has experimented with drugs, such as marijuana and wishes to stop. The purpose of this information is to open the eyes of our youth, friends and the public to the endless propaganda that is spread by the users, sellers and advocates of marijuana in the United States. Open your eyes.
Aaron S. McCarroll
Bodkin, Lauren L, Anjuli Singh and Cheryl Corcoran. "Cannabis as a Risk Factor for Psychosis in Vulnerable Teens: Implications for Treatment." Primary Psychiatry (2008): 51-57. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.
Fried, Peter, et al. "Current and former marijuana use: preliminary findings of a longitudinal study of effects on IQ in young adults." CMAJ(2002): 887-891. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.
H.M. Annis Ph.D., R.G. Smart Ph.D. "Adverse Reactions and Recurrences from Marijuana use." E.& S.Livingstone (1973): 315-319.Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.
H.Valerie Curran, Catherine Brignell, Sally Fletcher, Paul Middleton and John Henry. "Cognitive and subjective dose-response effects of acute oral tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in infrequent cannabis users." Psychopharmacology (2002): 61-70. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.
Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse . 1984. Web. October 2010.
Neal, Bernard. "Panic Attacks and Marijuana, K2." 27 July 2009. Articlesbase. Web. October 2010.
"NIDA Infofacts: Marijuana." July 2009. National insitute on drug abuse. Web. October 2010.
Phoenix House American Council for Drug Education. "Basic Facts About Drugs: Marijuana." ACDE (n.d.). Web. 12 Oct. 2010.
Rossato, M., C. Pagano and R. Vettor. "The Cannaboid System and Male Reproductive Functions." Journal of Neuroendocrinology 20(2008): 90-93.Academic Research Premier. 12 Oct. 2010.