Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in United States and is obtained from dried flower, stem, leaves, and seeds of female cannabis plant. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug and abused as it gives a sense of high or euphoria and relaxation. Marijuana contains 400 chemicals, of which 60 are cannabinoids. The most active psychoactive cannabinoid in Marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC that leads to harmful health effects like increased heart rate, low blood pressure, respiratory and immune system problems, anxiety, and can even cause cancer.
Effect on Brain
When Marijuana is smoked, THC, the active chemical ingredient in Marijuana gets immediately dissolves in blood and carried to brain and other parts of body. The THC affects the activity of brain by binding to the cannabinoid receptors in brain. Since cannabinoid receptors have higher density in parts of brain that control concentration, pleasure, memory, coordinated movements and more, the person abusing Marijuana suffers from memory loss, lack of coordination, distorted perception, problems in cognitive abilities, thinking and problem solving difficulties etc due to affected receptors. Chronic Marijuana use is also associated with increase in anxiety, suicidal tendency, depression, and schizophrenia.
Effect on Heart
Smoking Marijuana can increase the heart rate suddenly and this effect can last for 3-4 hours. The increased heart rate further increases the chances of heart attack in the first hour after smoking Marijuana. The risk of Marijuana abuser suffering from heart attack also increases due to disturbances in heart rhythms that lead to palpitations and arrhythmias. The aged people having heart complications stand at greater risk of suffering from heart attack due to Marijuana abuse.
Effect on Lungs
Smoking Marijuana can deposit 4 times more tar in lungs than smoking normal cigarettes. Marijuana smoke is damaging to lungs as it also contains more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Carcinogens are chemical substances that can cause cancer. Marijuana smokers normally inhale the smoke deeply and hold their breath for longer time. Thus, the carcinogenic smoke remains in contact with epithelial lining of lungs for longer time and damages it. Also, Marijuana smokers suffer from other respiratory ailments like cough and phlegm production, acute chest illness, increased risk of lung infections, and other respiratory illnesses.
Effect on Liver
The effects of Marijuana abuse on liver are still being researched. Marijuana alone can not be credited to cause liver damage but the impurities and other plant residues that come along with Marijuana can be detrimental to the liver. Marijuana abuse can severely affect the liver function if the person is suffering from ailments like Hepatitis C infection, HIV, Cirrhosis, Hepatomegaly and more.
Effect on Daily Life
Marijuana abuse has severe implications on health, mental well-being, family life, social relations, and on career of the individual. Marijuana abuse can disturb the daily life as the person suffers from memory loss, health complications, decreased thinking and problem solving abilities etc. Marijuana abuse leads to increased absenteeism, inability to concentrate, accidents, tardiness, job turnover, cognitive impairment and more.
Marijuana abuse especially among college students and adolescents needs to be curbed as it can lead to abuse of more severe illicit drug and act as a gateway drug. Dependence on Marijuana can be effectively treated through proper behavioral interventions, cognitive behavioral therapy, and motivational incentives.