Marijuana is an informal term used for dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis plant. Other slang terms for it include: pot, ganja, weed and maryjane. Marijuana has been used for thousands of years and considered one of the oldest psychedelic substances known to man. According to the 2015 World Drug Report about 128 to 232 million people worldwide have used cannabis as a recreational drug. It comes from the plant genus Cannabis that has three major species. Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Their growth is widespread throughout the world, especially in tropical and temperate regions not affected by changes in climate. The principal psychoactive ingredient is called  tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is responsible for both its benefits and side effects.

People often use marijuana to relax and experience a light euphoria. For many this can make ordinary, everyday activities more interesting. Occasional use of marijuana has shown to be safe and few puffs of it won’t make you a red-eyed psychopath. Numerous studies have been done on this herb and few exciting benefits are listed below.

 

Marijuana can improve your lung function. It seems smoking weed can actually boost your lungs despite the opposite effect in cigarette smokers. A study done in the Los Angeles area showed marijuana inhalation can actually increase functional lung volume, improving oxygen perfusion.

Marijuana’s anti-Cancer effects. Studies into the cancer-busting effect of cannabis have produced promising results. They have shown that it can slow or stop the growth of breast, liver, brain , skin and few other types of cancers. Cannabinoids in marijuana can cause a programmed destruction of malignant cells while inhibiting angiogenesis, blood vessel formation in tumors. Even so, marijuana should not be consumed as a sole therapy and must be coupled with traditional medical treatments including chemo and radiotherapy.

Marijuana enhances creativity. Neurophysiological research into marijuana shows that cannabis upgrades low-levels of creativity in  individuals to higher levels of creativity. Our frontal lobe is the part of the brain associated with creativity and highly imaginative individuals tend to possess more activity there. After smoking marijuana, people with lower levels of creativity demonstrated greater activity and imaginative drive.

Marijuana can prevent Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Those who suffer from it experience loss of memory, degeneration of other intellectual abilities, and eventually death. Though common in seniors Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of the aging process. Currently there is not cure but investigators have discovered that ‘THC’, found in marijuana, slows the accumulation of amyloid plaques, which are responsible for Alzheimer’s. It is thought these plaques damage and replace normal, healthy brain cells.

Marijuana for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis is the second most common form of arthritis in the UK. It is characterized by swollen, stiff, painful joints which impaires day to day lives. There is no cure that we know of. However, according to a new study by Canadian researcher professor Dr. Jason McDougall, cannabinoids will attach themselves to pain receptors thereby alleviating pain significantly. Other studies have shown cannabis to reduce any inflammation associated with this pain.

 

Marijuana is considered a safe drug to use, as its highly unlikely for you to overdose from cannabis. According to scientists the toxic dose of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is 15 to 70 grams. This volume is difficult to reach let alone exceed, even for the ardent user! However, marijuana use is a not risk-free activity.

Chronic use with high doses can cause some undesirable effects. Here are some short term and long term effects to consider.

Short term side effects:

  • Short term memory problems
  • Severe anxiety attacks including paranoia, much like a sense of being followed or watched.
  • Hallucinations
  • Elevated heart rate, posing a risk of developing cardiac arrest.
  • Sexual dysfunction, primarily in men
  • Lack of coordination, especially during sports.

Long term side effects:

  • Addiction: In the past cannabis is thought not to be addictive. However, according to recent studies it has proven to be highly addictive. About 10 percent of users smoking marijuana long term are prone to develop an addiction.
  • Respiratory issues: Despite the beneficial effect on the lungs, smoking too much, too often can damage the lungs much in the way cigarette smoking does, through respiratory irritation. The lungs become more prone to pulmonary infections such as lung abscesses and pneumonia.
  • Poor school performance: Considerable evidence suggests that students who smoke marijuana daily tend to have poor learning capacities and are more likely to drop out of school early.
  • Antisocial behavior: such as stealing, lying, cheating.
  • Possible fertility issues: Studies suggest smoking marijuana can lower fertility in both men and women. Regular consumption of cannabis has shown to reduce the plasma testosterone in males thus negatively affecting male fertility. In females, chronic abuse can lower the luteinizing hormone and increase prolactin secretion. This imbalance impairs the ovulatory cycle and reduces feminine fertility.

It’s clear that marijuana has both positive and negative aspects to its use. The health benefits are evident and scientifically proven, so it’s easy to see why cannabis has more public support than ever despite a few health risks. Marijuana is generally considered to be a  safe drug with most reported side effects being attributed to long term, high dose consumption. Therefore it is vital marijuana use be tempered with correct understanding in order to get the most benefit.

 

References

1.Learn About Marijuana

http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/factsheets/whatiscannabis.htm

2.British drugs survey 2014: drug use is rising in the UK – but we’re not addicted

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/05/-sp-drug-use-is-rising-in-the-uk-but-were-not-addicted

3.Cannabis, Medically reviewed on Nov 13, 2016 by L. Anderson, PharmD

https://www.drugs.com/illicit/cannabis.html

4.Effects of marijuana smoking on the lung, PubMed

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23802821

5.Can Cannabis Cure Cancer?, Leafly

https://www.leafly.com/news/health/can-cannabis-cure-cancer

5.Cannabis and Creativity,V. Krishna Kumar Ph.D. Psychology Today,

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychology-masala/201204/cannabis-and-creativity