Cannabis better known as marijuana is derived from the dried leaves, stems, seeds and flowering tops of the Cannabis sativa plant (hemp). It has been used for hundreds of years for recreational purposes and for medical treatment as well.
Tests show that THC, the active compound in Cannabis, alters the neurotransmitter that release to the spinal cord and this results in pain relief. THC is also known to stimulate appetite commonly referred to as “the munchies” and it also induces a relaxation state. Medical marijuana is used to treat chronic pain.
Cannabis is considered a hallucinogen. A hallucinogen is a substance that distorts how one’s mind perceives the world they live in. It is known as Cannabis, among other names. It is smoked like a cigarette (joint or blunt), inhaled through vapor or using a pipe. It can be mixed with food or brewed as tea.
When a person smokes it, he or she starts to feel the effects in a matter of minutes. Some of the immediate sensations they will experience include increased heart rate, an unreal state of mind and lessened coordination and an increase in appetite.
Types of Cannabis
Cannabis has 3 main species which are indica and sativa though there are others. Each of the two has their own unique characteristics and have a different high.
• Cannabis Sativa
This is arguably the most common species. Sativa is a large plant that reaches a height of 2 to 6 meters but it does not have dense foliage. It is dried cures and processed before consumption it has a more energizing and stimulating effect and not a couch-lock. It has a high ratio of THC and CBN which are the two most frequent active compounds in cannabis.
• Cannabis Indica
Indica is denser than sativa but it is much shorter and reached a height of 1 to 3 meters tall on average. The indica also flowers more rapidly when compared to sativa. It has been traditionally chosen in the making of hashish because it has a high volume of resin. It has a high amount of CBN sometimes more than THC and it has a strong feeling of getting stoned.
• Cannabis Ruderalis
Of the three varieties Cannabis Ruderalis is the least known. It is extremely short being only 30 to 60 centimeters in height. It has remarkably thick foliage. It has a very fast and early flowering cycle than other varieties. It is the least known variety because it isn’t very psychotropic. It is used by breeders and cultivators as a source of additional genetic material.
Effects of Cannabis
Cannabis has 113 cannabinoids but the most potent and psychoactive agent is identified as THC. After smoking cannabis, THC is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and within minutes it reaches the brain. When ingested, the body absorbs THC slowly and the user starts to feel the effects two hours.
THC is similar to the cannabinoids produced in the human brain. The natural cannabinoids usually act as neurotransmitters and they send chemical messages between the nerve cells. THC affects the hippocampus and the orbitofrontal cortex that are areas of the pain that control attention and memory. It also disrupts the functioning of cerebellum and the basal ganglia; this adversely affects balance, coordination and reaction time.
THC also stimulates cannabinoid receptors that increase the release of dopamine that is related to feeling of pleasure. This effect often leads to drug misuse. It is used as a recreation drug to achieve feelings of relaxation and giddiness.
Some possible effects of cannabis include;
Short term side effects include;
- Decrease in short term memory
- Dry mouth
- Impaired motor skills
- Feelings of paranoia and or anxiety
- Mood alteration and euphoria<
- Increased heart rate
- Reduction in blood pressure
- Memory and concentration impairment
- Rapid breathing
The short term effects normally wear off in 2 to 3 hours, but it might be longer depending on how much the user used and the potency of the THC.
Long term effects of the drug include;
- Decreased mental ability
- Behavioral problems in a child whose mother used it during her pregnancy
Researchers found that the amount of cancer producing chemicals one is exposed to after consuming one joint is equal to one who smoked five cigarettes. Research suggests that the use of marijuana is likely to come before use of other drugs. It can therefore be termed as a gateway drug. According to a study, of all those that started using marijuana before they were 15, 62% later went to use cocaine at some point in their lives, 9% used heroin at least once and 54% used prescription drugs. Contrary to what most people believe, research suggests that 30% of users may develop some degree of dependency and in severe cases get addicted.
Trends & Statistics
- According to United Nations, over 158.8 million people around the world use marijuana this account for more than 3.8% of the planet’s population.
- After alcohol, cannubis is the second most frequently substance in the bodies of drivers involved in fatal car accidents.
- Marijuana is widespread among the adolescents and the young adults. In 2015, 11.8% of 8th graders reported use of marijuana in the past year. 6% said they used marijuana on a daily basis or nearly daily
- Medical emergencies related to marijuana use increased by two thirds being male
- The percentage of youth that perceive the drug to be harmful went down. About seven in ten Americans believe that alcohol is more harmful to the health of a person when compared to marijuana. This means there is an increase in the number of youths that start using
- 53% of Americans support legalization of marijuana compared to 44% of the opposition
Teens and Cannibis
According to a study, marijuana use mostly starts in adolescence. The study shows that 78% of the people who began using marijuana in the past year were aged between 12 and 20. Marijuana use among teens might hurt their developing brains. Regular and heavy use of marijuana among teens can lead to an IQ drop of 8 points. Studies have shown marijuana interferes with the motivation, attention, learning and memory. Hence regular users have reduced intellectual levels.
Heavy daily use of marijuana among teens can be linked to;
- Lower grades and scores on their exams
- Less likelihood of enrolling in college
- Less likely to graduate high school or college
- Lower satisfaction in life
- Higher likelihood of earning a lower income or being unemployed