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  • Writer's pictureDr. Irit Goldman


Hi all. A lot has been happening on the issue of legalizing the use of Marijuana. I am feeling compelled to provide you with information so you really understand what is behind this “innocent” drug. Please read and judge by yourself. Best to all. Dr. Goldman

Marijuana Marijuana is derived from the plant Cannabis sativa or hemp. Commonly called pot, grass, weed or other names, marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant that is usually smoked by users. Marijuana is addictive and there are more US teenage marijuana abusers in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined. Classified as a Schedule I drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, in the last 50 years there has been a steady rise in its use for recreational, religious or spiritual, and medicinal purposes. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the world.

Marijuana has a chemical in it called tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. Marijuana in all forms is mind-altering (psychoactive)—it alters our brain function. THC acts on cannabinoid receptors found in areas of the brain involved in memory (the hippocampus), concentration (cerebral cortex), perception (sensory portions of the cerebral cortex) and movement (the cerebellum, substantia nigra, globus pallidus). When THC activates cannabinoid receptors, it interferes with the normal functioning of these brain areas. A lot of other chemicals are found in marijuana, too — about 400 of them, some of which are carcinogenic.

Marijuana has psychoactive and physiological effects when consumed, usually by smoking or ingestion. The minimum amount of THC required to have a perceptible psychoactive effect is about 10 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. The state of intoxication due to cannabis consumption is colloquially known as a “high,” the state where mental and physical facilities are noticeably altered. Users experience different highs, which may vary according to potency, dose, chemical composition, method of consumption and setting.

Marijuana affects the lungs and bronchial passages of users in the same fashion as tobacco use. Marijuana also affects the hormone levels of users. In adolescent pot users, regular use of the drug candelay the onset of puberty in young men and reduce sperm production. For women, regular use may disrupt normal monthly menstrual cycles and inhibit ovulation. When pregnant women use marijuana, they run the risk of having smaller babies with lower birth weights, who are more likely than other babies to develop health problems. Some studies also found indications of developmental delays in children exposed to marijuana before birth.

Second Article: Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the United States. It is derived from the cannabis plant which has a main active chemical ingredient called delta – 9 – tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short.

THC acts upon specific areas of the brain which leads to the “high” that users experience when they smoke or ingest marijuana. Marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory.

Marijuana has become much more potent; the amount of THC in pot has increased more than 150% since 1983. Marijuana can also be laced with other drugs. Sometimes unbeknownst to the user, marijuana can be laced with heroin or cocaine or with insecticides and embalming fluid. High doses of marijuana can produce an acute psychotic reaction in some individuals. In terms of physical effects, marijuana has negative effects on the heart by increasing heart rate which can last for up to three hours. Marijuana smokers can have the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers since smoking is the main method of use. Smoking marijuana puts the individual at comparatively higher risk because marijuana has four times the tar, 3-5 times higher levels of carbon monoxide and greater than 50% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than cigarettes. In terms of damage to the lungs, 3 or 4 joints cause as much lung damage as 20 cigarettes.

Long –term marijuana use can lead to addiction which affects the user’s ability to function in their family, at work and school. Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana abuse has the potential to cause problems in daily life and can impair the user’s ability to cope with social interactions and occupational performance. While marijuana use has not been definitively linked to mental illness, a number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. Treatment for marijuana abuse may indicate whether marijuana use causes mental problems, exacerbates them or if the use itself is an attempt to self – medicate symptoms of a mental health condition already in existence.

Researchers such as Jacques-Joseph Moreau have been working to explain how marijuana has harmful affects on the functions of central nervous system and hinders the memory and movement of the user’s brain. The focus of my web paper is how the chemicals in marijuana, specifically cannabinoids and THC have an effect on the memory and emotions of a person’s central nervous system.

Marijuana impinges on the central nervous system by attaching to brain’s neurons and interfering with normal communication between the neurons. These nerves respond by altering their initial behavior. For example, if a nerve is suppose to assist one in retrieving short-term memory, cannabinoids receptors make them do the opposite. So if one has to remember what he did five minutes ago, after smoking a high dose of marijuana, he has trouble. Marijuana plant contains 400 chemicals and 60 of them are cannabinoids, which are psychoactive compounds that are produced inside the body after cannabis is metabolized or is extorted from the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids is an active ingredient of marijuana. The most psychoactive cannabinoids chemical in marijuana that has the biggest impact on the brain is tetrahydrocannibol, or THC. THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana because it affects the brain by binding to and activating specific receptors, known as cannabinoid receptors. “These receptors control memory, thought, concentration, time and depth, and coordinated movement. THC also affects the production, release or re-uptake (a regulating mechanism) of various neurotransmitters.”

(2) Neurotransmitters are chemical messenger molecules that carry signals between neurons. Some of these affects are personality disturbances, depression and chronic anxiety. Psychiatrists who treat schizophrenic patient advice them to not use this drug because marijuana can trigger severe mental disturbances and cause a relapse.

When one’s memory is affected by high dose of marijuana, short-term memory is the first to be triggered. Marijuana’s damage to short-term memory occurs because THC alters the way in which information is processed by the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for memory formation. “One region of the brain that contains a lot of THC receptors is the hippocampus, which processes memory.”

(3) Hippocampus is the part of the brain that is important for memory, learning, and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivation. It also converts information into short-term memory. “Because it is a steroid, THC acts on the hippocampus and inhibits memory retrieval.”

(4) THC also alters the way in which sensory information is interpreted. “When THC attaches to receptors in the hippocampus, it weakness the short-term memory,”

(5) and damages the nerve cells by creating structural changes to the hippocampus region of the brain. When a user has a high dose of marijuana, new information does not register into their brain and this may be lost from memory and they are not able to retrieve new information for more than a few minutes. There is also a decrease in the activity of nerve cells.

There are two types of memory behavior that is affected by marijuana, recognition memory and free cells. Recognition memory is the ability to recognize correct words. Users can usually recognize words that they previous saw before smoking but claim to recognize words that they did not previously see before smoking. This mistake is known as memory intrusions. Memory intrusions are also the consequence of THC affecting the free cell of the brain. “Marijuana disrupts the ability to freely recall words from a list that has been presented to an intoxicated subject.”

(6) For example, if a list of vocabulary words presented to the intoxicated subject and few minutes later, they have to recall the words that were on the list. The only words that they remember are the last group of words and not the words that are in the beginning of the list. This is an initiation that their memory storage has been affected. “The absence of an effect at short term delay times indicates that cannabinodis did not impair Plthe ability to perform the basic task, but instead produce a selective learning and/or memory deficit.”

(7) I did a study with two college students (Student A and Student B) who both smoke marijuana every other week. This particular study was done an hour before, while and after they were under the influence of the drug. Student A was watching television before she smoked marijuana, was asked which advertisement was splayed before the show started and she got four out of five of her answers correct. After this first section, she smoked a small dose of marijuana twice within an hour. Fifteen minutes after she smoked her last blunt, she continued her regular activity of watching sitcoms.

When a commercial would come on, I would ask her simple questions like what happened before the show went to a commercial break. Her responses would be macro-answers about what was going on but when I asked her what the main character was wearing, she did not remember. This was ironic because the protagonist wore a bright yellow suit that my friend commenting on earlier when the show began ten minutes ago. Her short-term memory is weakening because she was only able to remember big picture information and not small picture. Though the results are interesting, I know that I would have had different response on someone else because it depends on how often the user smokes and if they have good memory prior to smoking weed.

Marijuana also impairs emotions. When smoking marijuana, the user may have uncontrollable laughter one minute and paranoia the next. This instant change in emotions has to do with the way that THC affects the brain’s limbic system. The limbic system is another region of the brain that governs one’s behavior and emotions. It also “coordinates activities between the visceral base-brain and the rest of the nervous system.”

(8) I am now going to use Students B to describe how emotions are affected by marijuana. Students B is an articulate and well spoken young woman who has a troublesome relationship with her best friends which gets her upset and tense up. But after she smoked one high dose weed, her body was relaxed however, she had trouble formulating her thoughts clearly and would talk in pieces and was jubilant. It has been researched that a person needs to have high dose of marijuana would be in the state of euphoria. High dose of marijuana is measured as “15mg of THC can cause increased heart rate, gross motor disturbances, and can lead to panic attacks.”

(9) Thankfully, Student A did not experience any of these extreme examples. College students usually smoke marijuana because they are stressed over schoolwork and feel that marijuana can help them unwind. I have encountered marijuana smokers who are chilled and have no worries in the world but after the effect of the drug wears off, they’re sometimes capable to tacking their problem or at the original state that they were in before the drug. The effects of happiness that marijuana usually cause to the user is not a lasting effect because even though a user smokes weed to get away from the troubles of his/her own life, they still have to face these problems after the effects of the drug wears-off. In a survey with college student, an organization called, parents: the Anti-Drug interviewed college students and found that “compared to the light users, heavy marijuana users made more errors and had more difficulty sustaining attention.”

(10) This was evident through my second experiment with Student B but not everyone who smoke high doses of marijuana experience the same affect. The chemicals in marijuana bring cognitive impairment and troubles with learning for the user. “Smoking [marijuana] causes some changes in the brain that are like those caused but cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. Some researchers believe that has changes may put a person more at risk of becoming addicted to other drugs such a cocaine and heroin.”

(11) To prevent such harm, one must be cautious of their actions. Those who do not do drugs do not risk harm. So please the next day you light up, remember you that you central nervous system and brain will be at risk.

Please note: the articles is work of other researcher and were not written by Dr. Goldman

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