The Effects of Marijuana

Essay by fattdonutsCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2008

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Marijuana is a mood altering or psychoactive drug thathas many nicknames, such as pot, weed, ganja, sensi, herb, and others. It is an ancient drug that dates back to hundreds ofyears to Asia. Many cultures have used it during meditation, religiousworship, and for intoxication. Marijuana itself comes from theIndian Hemp plant. It is the third most widely used drug in the UnitedStates, according to a survey taken in 1988, and it is the number oneillegally used drug in the United States. Marijuana is so popular that anestimated one out of every three people in the US have tried it andaround 44% of US high school students have smoked it. Marijuanausers are not easily detectable, nor is the drug just used in one area ofsociety. The Indian Hemp plant is found all over the world, includingthe US. There are three different types of Indian Hemp. They areCannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Rudderalis.

Thesethree plants vary in size and mood altering effect. The hemp plant hasmany uses and has been farmed for centuries. Marijuana can be takenin three ways, by eating, made into a tea, or smoking (the mostpopular). Smoking it can be done three ways, through a pipe, a joint,blunt. A joint is a rolled piece of paper that is twisted at the ends. Ablunt is normally an emptied cigar wrapper filled with marijuana. In ablunt you can fit much more marijuana. Though a blunt isn't alwayspurely marijuana, it can be mixed with other drugs such as angel dust.

The results are varied when someone smokes marijuana.

Different people will get different results, and certain types of cannabiscan cause different effects. The amount of THC (marijuana's mainactive chemical) may also change the result. If alcohol, or other druguse is occurring while smoking marijuana, the effect could be different.

A first time marijuana smoker will probably feel no effect. A chronic orheavy user will get a high (intoxication). When a person is high, normalsights, sounds, tastes, or events can seem very funny or interesting.

When intoxicated, time seems to pass a lot slower. To the user, minuteswill seem like hours. The intoxicated person may get very thirsty orhungry, a common effect called, " the munchies." A few minutes afterthe person inhales they will probably get a dry mouth, rapid heartbeat,decreased reaction time, and also a loss of coordination. The bloodvessels in the user's eyes will probably enlarge, giving the person aPage: 2 blood shot appearance. Within 2 to 3 hours the effects will die downand the person will feel sleepy.

How is marijuana harmful? There are many ways thatmarijuana can harm the body, both the immediate effect and long termeffects. It often disables the users short-term memory and may causetrouble with challenging tasks. Even very simple tasks can become astruggle for someone who is high. A student that is under the influenceof marijuana may find it hard to learn or concentrate. A persons timingand coordination are normally delayed by marijuana. As a result theperson will be very confused and useless.

The effect marijuana can have on the brain and central nervoussystem are very serious. Smoking marijuana will reduce the strengthand speed of communications between the mind and body. This occursin the brain and muscles, causing the user to not be as focused. Short-term marijuana use leads to a drowsiness and relaxing effect. This iswhy marijuana users have trouble remembering things. A heavy doseof marijuana can decrease the amount of blood pumped into the brain.

Marijuana effects the brain's control over muscles also. Heavy usage ofPage: 3 marijuana can have a lasting effect on the users short-term memory.

The blood flow to the back of the brain is greater than the front, aftersmoking. This is believed to cause the high sensation the user is after.

The short-term effect of marijuana will increase blood pressureand pulse rate up to 16 points above normal. It will also slow down thedigestive processing of food. People who smoke marijuana often willhave a below normal pulse rate and blood pressure. A chronic user mayexperience dizziness or even faint. A user may not even need to be highto experience that, if the person stands up quickly they may faint. Awell-known and common effect is blood shot eyes, though this effectwears off quickly.

How does marijuana effect the heart? During the time when theuser is high they will have an increased heart rate up to 50% abovenormal. The amount the heart rate increases depends on the amount ofmarijuana that was smoked. This will make exercise and otheractivities seem a lot harder. The effect could be extremely dangerousfor a person with a congestive heart or with an irregular heartbeat. Achronic smoker will have a decreased heart rate, often below normal.

Page: 4The immediate effect of smoking marijuana on the lungs are abrief opening of the bronchial tubes. That is why marijuana has beentested for possible medical uses. It was not approved because there is arebound reaction, which closes up the user's airways. Marijuana alsoirritates lung tissue. The long-term effect of smoking marijuanaregularly is close to the effects of a tobacco cigarette smoker. Thoughthe amount of tobacco consumed by the cigarette smoker is a lot higherthan the amount of marijuana a chronic smoker will inhale, the harmfulingredients in marijuana are a lot higher than the amount in tobacco,causing a similar effect on the lungs. Marijuana smoke in the lungs willkill cilia. Cilia moves mucous, dirt and other particles out of the lungs.

Also the heavy usage will decrease your lung's defense against bacterialand fungal infections.

Marijuana is very harmful yet very widespread. It is an illegaldrug that can harm almost every vital part of your body. It can makeyour memory vanish and cause your heart rate to slow. You coulddevelop lung cancer or a dangerously low blood pressure. This drugisn't deadly, but close to it. It causes Americans everyday suffering justfor those few minutes or hours of a good feeling. Is it worth it?Works Cited: