Since 1996, a number of states have passed laws allowing possession of a limited amount of legal marijuana. Recently Washington state followed suit, with the passing of Initiative 502, which allows for legalization of a small amount of marijuana for adults. Supporters say that marijuana’s beneficial properties warrant legalization. People use it to relax and socialize, and it is known to enhance sensory experiences such as listening to music. It is also used medicinally, particularly to ease the pain of cancer patients.
Is marijuana really all it’s cracked to be? This article will discuss the truth about weed and offer some alternative solutions to the problems people are trying to solve by smoking pot.
The Highs and Lows of Weed
While there are plenty of movies and songs glorifying the high produced by marijuana, what is actually involved in this process?
Marijuana produces a rush of endocannabinoids, substances in the brain that are involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. This is why a person high on marijuana feels pleasure, is typically in a good mood, and gets “the munchies”. At the same time, the memory becomes hazy, reaction time slows, and the person seems “out of it”.
After long-term marijuana use, the body struggles to produce its own endocannabinoids. At this point, the user begins to rely on pot to feel a normal amount of pleasure. Without it, he can experience anxiety, depression, even psychosis.
A number of studies show that marijuana use leads to cognitive problems now and in the future. Users experience:
• Impaired short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and retain data, especially tasks involving several steps.
• Altered judgment, leading to poor decisions such as risky sexual behavior that increases the chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases like HIV.
• Memory problems that last beyond the high, sometimes affecting the user years into the future. Studies show that earlier marijuana use, especially during the developmental teenage years, can lead to lowered IQ in adulthood. It prevents users from getting into their college of choice or getting the job they want.
• Addiction. Approximately nine percent of those who use marijuana become dependent on it, with the numbers increasing if use begins in the younger years.
Dangers to Society
Marijuana is the illicit drug found most often as the culprit in motor vehicle crashes. In fact, it is a major factor in the number of automobile accidents that are the leading cause of death in America’s youth. Drivers under the influence of marijuana cannot react quickly, do not have very good depth perception, and are uncoordinated. They do not respond quickly to roadside signals or sounds, nor are they able to concentrate for very long. In fact, many drivers under the influence of marijuana fall asleep at the wheel.
In a recent roadside survey, it was found that in nearly fifty percent of all drug-related accidents, the driver tested positive for marijuana.
Marijuana causes other accidents, as well, on the job and in the home. For more information on the dangers of marijuana visit Drug-Prevention.org.