Thursday, 15 February 2018

Advantages And Disadvantages of Marijuana (weed/pot)

Marijuana or better known as “weed” is the slang word used to refer to quantities of the cannabis plant which is the oldest psychoactive substance used by the human race. Other popular names it also goes by are pot, Mary Jane and ganja. Weed is made from the cannabis plant. Cannabis has three strains namely; Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis.

 The compound in weed that makes you “high” is called THC which is an acronym for tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is responsible for the psychoactive way one feels after using the drug. When you ingest weed, the THC binds with the cannaboid receptors and you also start feeling high when it binds with the brain regions that are responsible for pleasure, time, perception and pain. This sparks a chemical reaction that stimulates the production of dopamine which is a brain chemical that makes the user “feel good or high”.

Brief History of Marijuana

It was a popular medicinal drug in the USA during the 1800s.This however changed in the 1900s as the drug was now associated with immigrants who were fond of smoking the drug for recreational purposes. During this time (1900s), most immigrants, who were mostly Mexicans had a lot of marijuana cases which forced most anti-immigrant groups to rally for the prohibition of the drug leading to its illegalisation by 1930 with around 24 states in the US banning the drug. By 1937 congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which effectively banned pot except for a few medicinal purposes only.
As the war on marijuana raged on, the Narcotics Control Act and Boggs Act came up with the penalties for possession of marijuana for first time offenders one was to be given a 2-10 year sentence and a $20,000 fine.
In the recent years states have however been less aggressive on marijuana use with 26 states now having the drug legalised for medicinal use by 2017.

More on how Marijuana Affects Your Brain and Body

Even though marijuana has both medical and recreational uses, it can also be detrimental to health that is specifically to our brains and bodies. This is mainly because most of the effects of THC are registered in the brain where THC reacts with receptors of the brain which I referred to earlier as cannabinoid receptors. Another intriguing fact is that our bodies actually produces chemicals similar to THC which are used by the brain during normal function.

THC usually co-opts these natural ways to produce most of the effects of this natural phenomenon, that is the production of dopamine.
Here are some of the bottlenecks of using marijuana.

Memory Formation Blockage

When THC acts in the hippocampus of the brain it changes the way information is processed and how memory in the brain is formed. For a teenage user the effects of memory blockage may be seen in early adulthood. In early adulthood it causes cognitive impairment.

Causes Imbalance

When THC is ingested, it interferes with the brain areas called cerebellum and basal ganglia which is the centre for balance, posture, coordination and reaction time. This makes the user to have a hard time talking and walking properly. It can also impact the user’s ability to drive.

Increased Depression

Due to the fact that most people use the drug as a way to reduce depression, it has been largely assumed that most weed smokers are usually people who are depressed and may be looking for a way to relax and get their minds off things. A study from Netherlands shows that smoking cannabis increases the risk of depression for young adults who have vulnerability to mental sickness. It has been established that the long term usage of the drug increases depression for people with the serotonin gene which is responsible for the increased risk of depression.

Psychosis, Anxiety and Panic

A small percentage of cannabis smokers usually react with intense anxiety and panic after taking the drug. Users who have taken large doses of the drug may experience acute psychosis which usually causes hallucinations and sometimes loss of sense of identity.

Makes us feel “High”

This is due to the effect of THC which makes the brain to release dopamine which is usually associated with the body’s reward system. Dopamine makes you feel good when you do things that are good to ensure your survival and your offspring. These good things may include sex.

Controls Epileptic seizures

A study done on rats in the Commonwealth University showed that epileptic rats given extract of cannabis and synthetic marijuana relieved the rats of the epileptic seizures for about 10 hours. This is made possible by the binding of the THC to the brain cells responsible for excitability which in turn causes relaxation.

Treats Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Marijuana use is a health plus for people with inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s disease. The chemicals in marijuana (according to University of Nottingham researchers) react with body cells responsible for gut formation and immune responses. THC increases the permeability of the intestines and consequently blocking out the bacterial agents responsible for bowel diseases from getting in. This makes the intestinal cells to bond together.

Slows Development of Alzheimer’s disease and stops cancer from spreading

Studies done show that THC slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the formation of some enzymes in the brain which are responsible for the formation of the said amyloid plaques. These plaques are responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and kill brain cells. The use of marijuana slows down the formation of these plaques consequently slowing down the development of the disease.
Another chemical in Marijuana called cannibidiol prevents the further spread of marijuana by turning off a gene called Id-1.This gene is used by cancer to spread throughout the body. Cancer uses this mechanism to spread to other parts of the body as it makes more copies of this gene even faster than the cancerous cells themselves to help the disease spread faster. Studies in breast cancer show that marijuana use reduced the cells with gene Id-1 expression hence reducing the spread of cancer to the breasts.