Is Marijuana as Safe as You Think?

In this 2008 file photo, a person demonstrates how to smoke a marijuana joint in a coffee shop in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Peter Dejong/AP)
Photo Credit: Google Image

Via legislative process, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize the consumption and sale of recreational marijuana (adult use). Legal sales began on January 1, 2020.

by Bianca Cataldo

Feb. 7, 2020

The legalization of recreational marijuana has been the center of many debates, and now, public opinion has supported it.

In fact, people see marijuana as less dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes. Plus, regular users perceive marijuana smoking as an enjoyable activity. As an evidence that weed is not harmful, people mention its widespread use for medical and recreational reasons. That makes people believe cannabis products are harmless.

The point is, there are no harmless drugs.

In fact, to change your mood, these drugs act on your brain. The immediate damage, in the case of low use of cannabis, can be modest, but if used repeatedly it is dangerous. Each drug is addictive, so that you need to use it more frequently, until (after physical effects) it leads you to a moral deterioration.

In specific, marijuana is a psychoactive drug, and its main psychoactive part is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC acts like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body: cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in certain areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception.

In fact, THC attaches to these receptors to affect a person’s pleasure. This is why smoking, vaping… makes you feel “high”, happy, relaxed, euphoric, creative, amused, you name it.

On the other side, keep in mind what other aspects of the brain these receptors are associated with. In fact, current research indicates that THC ingestion results in THC binding to receptor sites associated with memory loss.

Focusing also on mental/physical effects, THC binding to receptors in the cerebellum decreases your motor coordination and your ability to maintain balance. Plus, it affects your sensory awareness, so that a distorted sense of time takes place, along with a damage to your short-term memory, and a reduction in your ability to think and talk.

At higher doses, paranoia, hallucinations, panic attacks, psychological problems and serious mental illnesses take place.

Keep in mind that marijuana has both short and long term effects on your body. When you inhale marijuana smoke into your lungs, the drug is quickly released into your bloodstream and makes its way to your brain, but also other organs. Over time, weed can cause serious health issues. Just to mention one, THC increases your heart rate, your supine blood pressure, and on occasion produces orthostatic hypotension.

Although there are not many research on it, in some cases, marijuana can lead to death. There are in fact cases of young men that experienced fatal cardiovascular events brought on by cannabis.

This is not a discussion on whether marijuana should be legal or not since in my point of view it is not relevant. Rather, this is a discussion that makes you aware of weed’s dangers. Marijuana is as harmful as cigarettes and alcohol. Smoking, vaping, do not erase your problems, these actions only increase them. Is that temporary and short sensation of pleasure really worth the risk?

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