Everyone’s heard of it. Many have tried it. Some are dependent on it. But what, exactly, is marijuana and what effect does it have on those who use it? I have put together this article in order to provide some information regarding this plant and the risks, and some would argue benefits, of its usage.
Marijuana is drawn from the cannabis plant, and is therefore often known by that name
Marijuana itself consists of the dried flowers, leaves and stems of the plant. The earliest cultivation and usage is believed to have been in central Asia and can trace its origins back to the third millennium B.C. Considered illegal in many countries, cannabis is nevertheless prescribed for medicinal purposes in places such as the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and Canada. Nonetheless, in its World Drug Report 2010, the United Nations deemed it the most widely-used illicit drug worldwide.
How? The most addictive substance found in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
It is this substance which produces the various side effects that arise as a result of its usage. On the one hand, THC relaxes the muscles, calms the nerves and produces an overall sensation of happiness and serenity as well as an increased sense of awareness. On the other, it can induce a sense of panic, anxiety or paranoia and lead to hallucinations and delusions. It can also make the user feel very hungry, known in inner circles as ‘getting the munchies’. Light usage can prompt a feeling of giddiness and sickness, often referred to as getting a ‘whitey’.
Long-term usage is medically linked to the development of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and memory loss. There is also the risk of developing lung cancer, as cannabis also contains carcinogens; chemicals which increase the likelihood of contracting this form of the disease.
Why? Research indicates the majority of cannabis users do so in order to experience an enhanced and more enjoyable quality of life
They claim the use of the drug enhances their enjoyment of pleasurable activities. The majority of cannabis users claim to only use it for specific activities and occasions. The soothing effect of THC is beneficial for relieving stress and heightening concentration, although prolonged use can actually increase the former and decrease the latter.
Medically speaking, cannabis is effective in treating nausea, anxiety, muscle spasms and insomnia as well as more serious and long-term illnesses such as AIDs, arthritis, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, its medical usage remains highly controversial and many physicians refuse outright to employ it.
The Law- Cannabis is classified as a Class B drug, which means it is illegal to possess, sell or share
The maximum penalty that can be imposed for a conviction for possession is five years imprisonment. Supplying others can incur a prison sentence of up to fourteen years and an unlimited fine. The ramifications of being convicted for a drug-related offence can be far-reaching. Certain countries, such as the United States, will disallow anyone with a drug conviction from entering their territory and the jobs market will shrink considerably.
Although many will profess the benefits of using cannabis are numerous, the risks to both health and reputation evidently outweigh any pros. The damage may well be irreversible and not worth the risk to body or character.