The highs and lows of marijuana use

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Emma Beck, Staff Writer

The marijuana debate is as important as ever now that additional states legalized it last month for recreational or medicinal purposes.  The media has often portrayed the negative effects of marijuana without telling the entire story. Like all debatable topics, there are two sides.

If an individual chooses to use marijuana, he or she should be aware that just like everything else that we put in our bodies, there are short and long-term effects. 

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. It is similar to the chemical makeup of cannabinoid, and these chemicals made naturally by the body quickly pass from the lungs into the bloodstream. The chemical is then carried to the brain and other parts of the body and is absorbed. THC absorbs more slowly when the person eats or drinks it. In that case, the user generally feels the effects after 30 minutes to 1 hour. The short-term memory loss that comes with the usage of pot is shown in memory tests. It has been proven that it is harder to remember a 10-digit phone number or a short series of words. 

Long-term use of marijuana has shown effects on brain development. If marijuana use starts in teenagers years, the user may have reduced thinking, memory, and learning functions and it could affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Marijuana’s effects on these abilities may last over a long period of time or even be permanent.

For example, a study showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing cannabis use disorder lost an average of eight IQ points between ages 13 and 38. The lost mental abilities did not fully return in those who quit marijuana as adults. Those who started smoking marijuana as adults did not show notable IQ declines. The last major effect known is that smoking marijuana on a regular basis could cause weight gain.

However, when pot is used for scientific research, they have found pot to be very useful. Medical Marijuana has been tested and proven to make Cancer Cells “self-destruct.” Cannabinoid cells can chemically bond to cells in the human body. When these cells are injected into certain types of cancer cells, the cannabinoid cells send chemical signals to the cancer cells that cause them to self-destruct, while other cells will reduce in size.

This leaves researchers wondering what else Cannabinoid cells can do. One of the new theories that scientists are still researching is if Cannabinoids can cure Alzheimer’s. There is evidence that it can protect certain parts of the brain from the disease, but the question remains if it can cure the disease in a whole. There are many more studies on the use of medical marijuana and the limits are endless on how much it could help our society.

Just like any substance that a person puts in their body, its effects are dependent on how it is used.