Marijuana, commonly known as weed, is a product of the Cannabis plant. It is a psychoactive drug which finds use in recreational and medical purposes, though they have been long in use in religious and spiritual rites. Though it is common among youngsters to smoke a ‘joint’ and cherish the feelings of euphoria and relaxation, Marijuana has a lot of physiological and psychological side effects attached with it, which makes it an illegal drug in most parts of the world. However, the use of this drug continues and often forms the cause of a lot of personal and social problems. While it has been legalised for medical and industrial use in countries like Canada and Uruguay, it is high time we look at the darker side of marijuana consumption.
10. Gateway to drug abuse
The more you please your body, the more pleasure it demands. So is true for marijuana as well. It has been observed that usage of marijuana is just the gateway to cravings for harder drugs. Marijuana users tend to become heavy smokers with time and get more attached to alcoholic drinks as well. There is hardly anyone who began their journey with cocaine or heroin. Smoking marijuana makes the body more receptive to drugs and so, the urge to consume more dangerous drugs arises. As the body grows more accustomed to marijuana, people resort to harder substances to achieve the same levels of satisfaction that marijuana once provided in the initial stages. Though one my claim marijuana to be the least harmful of drugs, the risk arises when it turns to addiction and makes the person lose control over his desire for drugs.
9. Reproductive risks
It is a known fact that improper consumption of marijuana over a long period of time may eventually lead to a lower sperm count in males or increase the risks of testicular cancer. A clear connection has been found between marijuana consumption and tumours in the testicular germ cells. It has an adverse effect on the endocannabinoid system and can interfere with the hormonal balance in the human body leading to numerous physiological disorders. Marijuana is very harmful for pregnant women as it can restrict the growth of foetus and cause cognitive defects in the offspring. Such children have a risk of mental retardation from birth, besides a number of other physical disorders. Chronic use of the drug may even lead to infertility and severe hormonal imbalance in the human body.
Marijuana is believed to be carcinogenic in nature. Besides testicular cancer, long term consumption of the drug can cause head, neck lung and bladder cancer as well. The smoke from a ‘joint’ contains more tar and toxins than a pack of cigarettes. Also, the smoke inhaled per puff is larger than that of a cigarette, thus allowing the carbon monoxide and tar to cause greater harm to the lungs! The concentration of carcinogens is nearly double in marijuana smoke than tobacco smoke. Thus the harm done by marijuana is clearly evident from the statistics itself. With the number of young cannabis smoker increasing, the cases of throat and gullet cancer is also on the rise, which is otherwise quite uncommon among young people.
7. Mental Illness
This is by far the most dangerous effect of marijuana among young smokers. The consumption is mainly done to achieve a state of relaxation and pleasure. However, it can lead to the development of psychiatric disorders or worsen the mental stature of a person. With long term usage of the drug, psychosis can even become acute and chronic. Some people have also shown to have developed schizophrenic symptoms over years of marijuana usage. Though the susceptibility varies from person to person, the psychological effects can turn out to be quite alarming in most cases. Though marijuana gives a temporary state of happiness upon usage, it can actually drive a person more towards depression with years of usage. It reduces a person’s ability to cope with pain and confusion, thus driving them to become moody and mentally fragile. Cannabis users have also been observed to exhibit increased suicidal tendencies than general population.
6. Loss of sense and sensibility
Marijuana is a depressant and hallucinogen. When consumed, the chemicals are absorbed by the body, thus making the senses weak. The sensation of relaxation actually arises from the fact that the body becomes less sensitive to external stimulus. It can make a person lose track of time and impair the ability to perform tasks that require concentration, coordination and swift reflexes. A person may continue laughing or crying even without any reason. Marijuana increases the appetite and heightens the senses of hunger, which can cause a person eat a lot after the consumption of the drug. The feeling of ‘high’ can last from about two to eight hours and can hamper one’s thinking skills and ability to indulge in physical activities.
5. Impaired analytical skills
The chemical THC, a major component of marijuana, causes nerve-cell abnormalities in the long run, leading to impaired speech, difficulty in analysing complex ideas, memory loss, insomnia, mood swings, lack of physical coordination, weakening of muscles and impaired vision. Usage of cannabis has been found to be associated with academic underperformance as well. It is believed to shrink the size of the brain in adolescents. Besides, it is a well-known fact it causes short-term memory loss, which can become severe with continued usage. Marijuana usage may also increase the tendency of panic in people under stress. It has been observed that drivers under the effect of cannabis find it difficult to maintain vehicle speed, brake quickly and steer properly.
4. Heart Disease
Marijuana consumption increases the heart beat rate by manifold and reduces the blood pressure. This increases the risks of a heart attack among marijuana smokers. Marijuana also can also cause blood to clot in the blood vessels of the brain. It has been medically proved that the drug increases the risk of a stroke among adolescents. The immediate effects can be felt by smokers in the form of palpitation, often associated with breathlessness. Besides the psychological effects of the drug are also linked with impact on the heart. The sense of panic and anxiety also aggravates the heart condition, thus increasing the risks of heart damage among regular marijuana smokers.
3. Lung Disease
Smoking marijuana has similar effects of the respiratory system as tobacco. Preliminary effects include burning and stinging of the throat and mouth, often associated with heavy coughing. Smoking a ‘joint’ involves holding the breath longer and inhale deeper, thus causing the dense smoke to burn the smooth inner lining of the windpipe, making it more susceptible to infections. Chronic use of the drug in the form of smoking causes deposition of particulate matter in the inner parts of the lungs and formation of rashes, leading to severe respiratory problems with age. Marijuana smokers have also been reported to have impaired senses of smell and taste, as the hot smoke also damages nasal sensory parts and the throat.
2. Social disconnection
Drug users are not generally held with high regard in the society. Be it tobacco or marijuana or alcohol, any form of drug abuse deteriorates the life of the individual, by crippling his social life. If loneliness or anxiety is the reason behind one’s consumption of marijuana, it will do little to improve his life. Thus, the effect is iterative and gradually engulfs the life of the addict, driving him crazy or suicidal. People tend to become short-tempered and relationships die out. For adolescents, it poses a major threat, because it can make them underperformer and underachiever in life. Society refuses to accept the practices of drug usage of any form.
Though the withdrawal symptoms may not be as ugly as with other drugs, continued use of marijuana can lead to addiction. Once a person gets habituated to the feelings of pleasure that arise from smoking weed, it might actually become very difficult to quit. As, pointed out earlier, it might even drive a person towards the usage of other drugs to heightens the feelings. Marijuana, like all other drugs affect the body and mind in a similar way, which actually makes it difficult to quit. Just like it takes very less time for a cigarette smoker to go from novice to a chain smoker, so is the case with marijuana, or even graver. Though marijuana may be medically useful in some cases, usages in heavy and frequent doses, ultimately leads to a chronic condition when it becomes a necessity for the person. And definitely this form of addiction is dangerous and might even prove fatal.