Released when users inhale smoke produced by burning dried marijuana leaves or “buds”, marijuana’s primary psychoactive compounds are quickly absorbed by the lungs and discharged into the bloodstream. Smoking marijuana is the fastest way users experience physiological changes caused by marijuana compounds. Psychoactive effects can last up to three or four hours, depending the amount of THC contained in the marijuana smoked.
How is Marijuana Used?
Dried marijuana leaves are crushed and rolled into “joints” using the same kind of rolling papers used to roll tobacco cigarettes. Marijuana can also be packed into small “bowls” found on handheld pipes and smoked. Bongs are larger devices that use water vapor to to allow users to inhale pot smoke more deeply without experiencing a burning throat or coughing. Marijuana “brownies” are also consumed for the purpose of getting high as well.
Mental Effects of Smoking Marijuana
Within a few minutes of taking one or two “hits” of a joint, “blunt”, bong or pipe, the majority of pot users report:
What Happens When You Smoke Marijuana?
- Feeling relaxed, talkative, light-headed and slightly euphoric
- Feeling anxious or “paranoid”, i.e., people high on pot may think law enforcement is outside waiting to arrest them or robbers are already inside their home
- A pleasant sensation of time distortion, usually involving hours passing by quickly without the user realizing how much time has actually passed
- Heightened sensory awareness–music sounds unusually and intensely interesting, colors seem more vivid and may even appear “animated”
- Inability to concentrate on tasks, especially tasks that require attention to detail or quick reflexes
Physical Effects of Smoking “Dope”
Here are some of the physical effects of smoking marijuana
- Heart and respiratory rates increase as THC enters the bloodstream
- Expansion and inflammation of blood vessels in the eyes produces the classic “red eyes” of pot smokers
- Depressed motor skills lead to uncoordinated, clumsy movements
- Extreme dry mouth caused by inhibition of salivary receptors located near cannabinoid receptors in the brain
5 Consequences of Smoking Marijuana Daily
Long-term marijuana use is associated with increased incidences of lung, esophageal, bladder and testicle cancer.
Chronic and Acute Bronchitis
Marijuana smoke causes airway damage that can lead to chronic and/or acute bronchitis, decreased lung defenses against diseases and lung inflammation
Reduction in Brain Volume
Research has shown repeatedly that daily pot smokers have smaller orbitofrontal cortexes than those who are not long-term marijuana users. The OFC is not only associated with addiction but also brain signaling and connectivity.
Men who are daily marijuana smokers have been shown to have low sperm counts and “incapacitated” sperm that are not healthy enough to induce fertilization.
Suppression of the Immune System
Chemicals found in marijuana exert immunosuppressant properties on the user’s body that degenerate the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease.
Certain species of marijuana plants Indica and Sativa contain higher levels of THC and cannabidiol (CBD) than other marijuana plant strains. In addition, pot plants can be genetically manipulated by professional pot cultivators to smell, taste and have different coloring than the traditional, greenish-yellow marijuana plant.
Future of Marijuana Legalization for Medicinal and Recreational Purposes
President Obama’s “hands off” approach to addressing state laws controlling marijuana possession and cultivation (still considered illegal by the federal government) has definitely contributed to the rapid decriminalization and legalization of marijuana across the U.S. In fact, Ohio, Nevada, California, Nevada and several other states are expected to put out ballot initiatives to voters that would legalized recreational marijuana in 2016.
The Straight Dope About Smoking Weed
Despite your own personal stance on whether or not marijuana should be legalized – Ohioans, for instance, just voted no around the same time that Alaskans were legally lighting up – there’s a lot of conflicting information surrounding the issue of smoking weed. Most healthcare experts concede that it isn’t as dangerous as, say, heroin or crystal meth. But contrary to what the pro-pot lobby would have people believe, it’s not necessarily harmless either.
Since 1965, writes U.S. News and World Report, law enforcement has made an estimated 22 million arrests for weed infractions. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began a marijuana eradication program in 1977 that continues to this day. Every effort at “stemming” – pun intended – the tied of pot has failed. A Gallup poll reveals that 44 percent of Americans admit to smoking weed in 2015 compared to 24 percent in the ’70’s.
So if there’s no magic trick to making marijuana consumption disappear in a “puff of smoke” – we’re on a roll here, folks – there are some things that weed smokers need to know, such as:
Smoking a Lot of Cannabis can Permanently Damage Short-Term Memory
According to a study released in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Over a 25 year span, researchers studied the pot practices of 3,400 Americans. The more weed they smoked, the worse they performed on memory tests. This is a polite way of saying that pot can cause brain damage, especially in teenagers and young adults who’s brains are not fully developed.
Smoking Weed is Harmful to the Lungs
According to reports from the American Lung Association, many of the same irritants, toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco are present in the smoke created by marijuana combustion. While pot smoke damages the cell lining of the lungs, which can lead to chronic bronchitis, it can also effect the immune system, making it harder for a person’s body to fight off infection and other diseases.
Marijuana can Seriously Diminish Productivity
In one study, postal workers that tested positive for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in weed, were 55 percent more likely to get in an accident, 85 percent more likely to suffer an on the job injury and missed 75 percent more work than employees with no THC in their system. This might be why your neighbor is constantly getting your mail.
Marijuana Addiction is not a Myth
Weed smokers develop a tolerance to the drug and must use more and more to achieve the same or similar “highs” that they did in the early days of their consumption. Furthermore, heavy-users can develop marijuana withdrawal syndrome after stopping. The condition is difficult enough that many pot smokers go back to the drug to alleviate the symptoms.
This is information that the public doesn’t normally hear from the big green marijuana publicity machine. The best course of action to reduce any negative effects from smoking weed is to abstain. If that’s not an option, remember to proceed with caution and practice moderation in all things. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to seek help or treatment if marijuana has begun to cause problems in your life or the life of a friend or a loved one.
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