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A drug, roughly speaking, is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, modifies normal physical function. There is no single, exact definition, as there are different meanings in drug control law, government regulations, medicine, and everyday usage. They are made or grown at home by the user or dealer, made or grown in internal labs or greenhouses, diverted (stolen or sold on) from valid sources such as chemists, or imported - from producer nations such as Colombia or from transit countries such as the Netherlands or Spain. Drugs can enter the body in many ways. Some ways in which drugs enter the body is by it being injected, swallowed, snorted, smoked, etc. In pharmacology, a drug is "a chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or finding of disease or used to otherwise improve physical or mental well-being. Drugs may be prescribed for a limited period, or on a regular basis for long-lasting disorder. Recreational drugs are chemical substances that affect the central nervous system, such as opioids or hallucinogens. They may be used for seeming beneficial effects on perception, awareness, personality, and behavior. Some drugs can cause addiction and/or habituation.

MARIJUANA (Cannabis)
Loose Marijuana

Marijuana Leaf

What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant. You may hear marijuana called by street names such as pot, herb, weed, grass, boom, Mary Jane, gangster, or chronic. There are more than 200 slang terms for marijuana. Cannabis, also known as marijuana (sometimes spelled "marihuana) among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug. The word marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish word, marihuana. According to the United Nations, cannabis "is the most widely used illicit substance in the world." The typical herbal form of cannabis consists of the flowers and subtending leaves and stalks of mature pistillate of female plants. The adhesive form of

the drug is known as hashish (or merely as 'hash'). The major psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabis contains more than 400 different chemical compounds, including at least 60 other cannabinoids (CBD), and tetrahydrocannabivari (THCV), which can result in different effects from those of THC alone.

HISTORY Cannabis is native to Central and South Asia. Evidence of the inhalation of cannabis smoke can be found in the 3rd millennium B.C, as indicated by burnt cannabis seeds found in a ritual fire at an ancient burial site in present day. Romania Cannabis is also known to have been used by the ancient Hindus and Nihang Sikhs of India and Nepal for thousands of years. Cannabis was also known to the ancient Assyrians, who discovered its psychoactive properties through the Aryans. Using it in some religious ceremonies, they called it Qumbu (meaning "way to produce smoke"), a probable origin of the modern word "cannabis". Cannabis was also introduced by the Aryans to the Scythians and Thracians, whose shamans

(the kapnobatai"those who walk on smoke/clouds") burned cannabis flowers to induce a state of trance. Members of the cult of Dionysus, believed to have originated in Thrace (Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey), are also thought to have inhaled cannabis smoke. In 2003, a leather basket filled with cannabis leaf fragments and seeds were found next to a 2,500- to 2,800-year-old mummified shaman in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. Cannabis has an ancient history of ritual use and is found in pharmacological cults around the world. Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices like eating by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century B.C., confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus. Cannabis use has been found to have occurred as long ago as the 3rd millennium BC In modern times the drug has been used for entertaining, religious or spiritual, and medicinal purposes. The UN estimated that in 2004 about 4% of the world's adult population (162 million people) use cannabis annually, and about 0.6% (22.5 million) use it on a daily basis. The possession, use, or sale of cannabis preparations containing psychoactive cannabinoids became illegal in most parts of the world in the early 20th century.

EFFECTS ON THE BRAIN Marijuana interrupts on the central nervous system by attaching the brain's neurons and interfering with normal communication between the neurons. These nerves respond by shifting their original behavior. For example, if a nerve is supposed to assist one in recovering short-term memory, cannabinoids receptors make them do the opposite. So if one has to remember what he did five minutes ago, after smoking a high dose of marijuana, he has trouble. Marijuana plant contains 400 chemicals and 60 of them are cannabinoids, which are psychoactive compounds that are produced inside the body after cannabis is absorbed or is extorted from the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids is an active ingredient of marijuana. The most psychoactive cannabinoids chemical in marijuana that has the biggest impact on the brain is tetrahydrocannibinol, or THC. THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana because it affects the brain by binding to and activating specific receptors, known as cannabinoid receptors. "These receptors control memory, thought, concentration, time and deepness, and matched movement. THC also affects the production, release or re-uptake (a regulating mechanism) of various neurotransmitters." Neurotransmitters are chemical messenger molecules that carry signals between neurons. Some of these affects are personality disturbances, depression and chronic anxiety.

Psychiatrists who treat schizophrenic patient advices them to not use this drug because marijuana can trigger severe mental disturbances and cause a decline. When one's memory is affected by high dose of marijuana, shortterm memory is the first to be triggered. Marijuana's damage to short-term memory occurs because THC alters the way in which information is processed by the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for memory formation. "One region of the brain that contains a lot of THC receptors is the hippocampus, which processes memory." Hippocampus is the part of the brain that is important for memory, learning, and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivation. It also converts information into short-term memory. "Because it is a steroid, THC acts on the hippocampus and inhibits memory retrieval." THC also alters the way in which sensory information is interpreted. "When THC attaches to receptors in the hippocampus, it weakness the short-term memory," and damages the nerve cells by creating structural changes to the hippocampus region of the brain. When a user has a high dose of marijuana, new information does not record into their brain and this may be lost from memory and they are not able to retrieve new information for more than a few minutes. There is also a decrease in the activity of nerve cells. Marijuana also impairs emotions. When smoking marijuana, the user may have uncontrollable laughter one minute and paranoia the next. This instant change in emotions has to do with the way that THC affects the brain's

limbic system. The limbic system is another region of the brain that governs one's behavior and emotions. It also "coordinates activities between the visceral base-brain and the rest of the nervous system." I am now going to use Students B to describe how emotions are affected by marijuana. A STUDENT B is an articulate and well-spoken young woman who has a troublesome relationship with her best friends which gets her upset and tense up. But after she smoked one high dose weed, her body was relaxed however, she had trouble formulating her thoughts clearly and would talk in pieces and was glad. It has been researched that a person needs to have high dose of marijuana would be in the state of euphoria. High dose of marijuana is measured as "15mg of THC can cause increased heart rate, gross motor disturbances, and can lead to panic attacks." Thankfully, Student A did not experience any of these extreme examples Research into the effects of long-term cannabis use on the structure of the brain has produced unpredictable results. It may be that the effects are too delicate for reliable detection by current techniques. A similar challenge arises in studies of the effects of chronic marijuana use on brain function. Brain imaging studies in chronic users tend to show some constant alterations, but their connection to impaired cognitive functioning is far from clear. This uncertainty may stem from confounding factors such as other drug use, residual drug effects, or withdrawal symptoms in long-term chronic users.

Scientists have learned a great deal about how THC acts in the brain to produce its many effects. When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body.


Marijuana increases heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking; this effect can last up to 3 hours. In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. This may be due to increased heart rate as well as the effects of marijuana on heart beats, causing trembles and arrhythmias. This risk may be greater in aging populations or in those with cardiac vulnerabilities.

EFFECTS ON THE LUNGS Numerous studies have shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increase the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. Marijuana smokers show deregulated growth of epithelial cells in

their lung tissue, which could lead to cancer; however, a recent casecontrolled study found no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory, or upper digestive tract cancers.7 Thus, the link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unconfirmed at this time. Nonetheless, marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and composure production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections. A study of 450 individuals found that people who smoke marijuana frequently but do not smoke tobacco have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers. Many of the extra sick days among the marijuana smokers in the study were for respiratory illnesses.


Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person's existing problems worse. In one study, heavy marijuana abusers reported that the drug reduced several important measures of life achievement, including physical and mental health, perceptive abilities, social life, and career status. Several studies associate workers' marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers' compensation claims, and job turnover.

MARIJUANA and MENTAL HEALTH A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Some of these studies have shown age at first use to be an important risk factor, where early use is a marker of increased vulnerability to later problems. However, at this time, it is not clear whether marijuana use causes mental problems, worsens them, or reflects an attempt to self-medicate symptoms already in existence. Chronic marijuana use, especially in a very young person, may also be a marker of risk for mental illnesses - including addiction - stemming from genetic or environmental vulnerabilities, such as early exposure to stress or violence. Currently, the strongest evidence links marijuana use and schizophrenia and/or related disorders. High doses of marijuana can produce an acute psychotic reaction; in addition, use of the drug may trigger the start or relapse of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals.

Marijuana Plant with flower

CONCLUSION While many people consider the effects of marijuana to be fun, marijuana does have serious side effects that must not be ignored. Studies have shown that marijuana kills brain cells, can lead to depression, loss of sex drive, loss of motivation, loss of energy, loss of testosterone and increased irritability. These are the long term effects that are difficult to prove.



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