Harmful Affects of Marijuana

Harmful Affects of Marijuana

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Marijuana or cannabis is one of the most commonly abused drugs. Marijuana consists of the dried and crushed leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds of the cannabis sativa plant. Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also know as THC, is the primary psychoactive, mind-altering ingredient in marijuana that produces the feeling of being “high.” In this paper I will discuss some of the uses of marijuana, the effects of marijuana, its history, and some of the treatment methods for marijuana.
Cannabis is one of the oldest known agricultural plants. Therefore it has a large presence in the history of the world. Woven fabrics have been discovered that are believed to be hemp fibers from 8000 to 7000 B.C. The first know use of hemp comes from China in about 4500 B.C. Which was used for rope, net making, and cloth weaving. Also, China was the first to use the plant for psychoactive purposes. India has documented the use of marijuana, or “bhang,” in the group of religious books known as the four “Vedas,” in about 1400 and 1000 B.C. These books refer to marijuana as one of the “five kingdoms of herbs… which release us from anxiety.” Scientists believe that cannabis was introduced to the Middle East and Europe via India. Evidence has shown the use of cannabis in Norway and Germany in 400 B.C. In America, most believe that the Native Americans were aware of this plant, but most likely introduced by the Spaniards. The Spaniards brought the cannabis seed to Chile around 1545. In America, the plant was first grown in Virginia and Massachusetts in the sixteen hundreds. This plant was considered legal from the 1600’s until the 19th century. There is little evidence that shows marijuana being used for recreationally use in the U.S. during the 17th and 18th centuries. The drug became popular in the mid-19th century and was in most drugstores in though the beginning of the 20th century. Around the same time the recreational use for marijuana was first discovered. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 put a heavy tax on manufactures, importers, dealers, pharmacists, and medical practitioners. This tax outlawed the substance for recreational use. There was a very negative attitude toward marijuana during the 1940’s and 1950’s, although there was a resurgence of this drug during the 1960’s. Though this resurgence marijuana is still used for recreational use today.
     Marijuana has many harmful effects on the human body.

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When marijuana is smoked the chemical THC enters the body through the lungs, when eaten it enters the body through the stomach. It moves through the bloodstream to the brain, as well into the body’s tissues and organs. This drug takes almost four weeks to completely leave the body. Marijuana affects the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Researches have linked pot smoking to precancerous lesions in the lungs. It also reduces the amount of oxygen available to the heart. This drug may also temporarily depress the body’s immune system. Smoking marijuana will destroy white blood cells, which help the body fight viruses. Marijuana also affects the hormonal systems in both men and women. In males, it will lower testosterone levels, lower sperm count, and may cause impotence. In females, marijuana may have some effects on pregnancy and can also cause birth defects. Finally, marijuana can affect the brain. If frequently used, it may impair short-term memory. Also, the drug may cause a person to experience a loss of motivation and many behavior problems. Some of these problems may be loss of ambition, will, diminished physical activity, and self-neglect. The use of marijuana also impairs perception of time, distance, and coordination.
     There are many different uses for marijuana. In the early years marijuana was used for fabric, rope, and cloth. Later, it was used to treat many health problems. It was believed to help with menstrual pains, gout, constipation, and forgetfulness. During the 19th century many medical articles were issued discussing marijuana’s value in treating ailments such as headaches, insomnia, and menstrual cramps. To get the effects of marijuana, a person may smoke the substance or eat it. Marijuana was first used for recreational use in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mexican and Caribbean immigrants introduced the practice of smoking marijuana to America. It was first started in the southern part of the county and later became popular in cities such as New York and Chicago. In a recent study showed that over 40 million people have experienced marijuana. The number of regular users is estimated to be between 10 and 15 million people. Most of these people are between the ages of twelve and twenty-five. While ten percent of high school students are daily users.
     There are several methods in prevention and treatment of marijuana abuse. The most popular method of prevention is criminal punishment, which has served as a longtime strategy against drug abuse. Several other affective methods include educational and training programs, as well as medical and psychological based treatment. Most of these programs seem successful in the prevention and treatment of marijuana. Some of these programs may try to break marijuana dependence. If a person stops using marijuana abruptly, they may experience a physical discomfort, which may last anywhere from 48 to 96 hours. After a person experiences this there dependence on marijuana is gone. Most of these programs are voluntarily or a person may be forced to take part in one of these prevention or treatment programs. These programs serve as a good tool in trying to reduce the numbers of people who continue to use the drug marijuana.      
     In conclusion, marijuana has been apart of the world’s culture for a long time. During this period there has been a wide variety of uses for this drug, some legal, but most are illegal. Scientists have been able to distinguish many of the uses for marijuana as well as some of the harmful affects that the drug may cause. With this gained knowledge we as a community are able to educate the people, especially the youth, of the world about the harmful affects of the substance marijuana.

1.     Drugs, by Dorothy E. Dusek and Daniel A. Girdano, 1987
2.     Drugs and Society, Sixth Edition, by Glen Hanson and Peter Venturelli, 2000
3.     Marijuana, by Jack Mendelson, M.D. and Nancy Mello, Ph.D., 1992
4.     Marijuana, by Sandra Lee Smith,

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