There was a time when smoking marijuana was illegal. Persons smoked at their on risk – both physical, and with the chance of being imprisoned or charged a heavy fine. Few people back then asked – is smoking marijuana safe? They knew the answer. Still, those who wanted to smoke, smoked while mindful of the risk. The majority didn’t, and in spite of the growing number who now admit that they have used or are using the drug, the majority still don’t.
Here are some things that you need to know about smoking marijuana.
What is Marijuana
Marijuana is the name given to the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. This plant can be found in three different species – cannabis sativa, indica and ruderalis. Of the three, cannabis sativa is the one most commonly used.
Marijuana is a psychoactive drug used for both recreational and medicinal purposes. It is also known as weed, pot, splif, grass, herb and ganja – depending on locality. Others may know it by still different names. The majority of people who use marijuana use it for recreational purposes.
Though once illegal all over the world, over the past decade or so, more and more countries have either legalized this drug, like alcohol, or decriminalizes it. This action alone, will result in a greater increase in the amount of users and therefore the amount of psychotic cases present in any one country.
How marijuana is used
Among those who use marijuana, the most common way of getting it into the body is through smoking. The dried leaves are rolled into a form similar to a cigarette, but larger and longer. It is then lit and smoked. The scent is easily identifiable even to those who have never smoked it. Others smoke it using the old fashion pipes and chillums.
With the advent of vaping, the weed is also being vaporized now and inhaled into the body.
One of the most insidious ways of getting this drug into the system though, is through edibles. Innovative persons have included it in cakes, wines, tea, ice cream, brownies, lollipops, chocolate bars, cookies, granola bars and candy. While you may think that this is safer than smoking since it removes the smoke, it may prove more harmful because of the quantity used in the product.
The only person who knows the quantity of marijuana in a brownie, for example, is the person making it. If he is not careful of the amount included then it is possible that the user may find himself unwillingly intoxicated. Since the effect on the individual varies from person to person and is most times unknown until used, ingesting the herb in this way can prove harmful to one with a low tolerance.
It is also a subtle way to get a non-user hooked on the drug.
So, a word of caution. If you attend parties and home made wine is served, be sure to inquire as to the type of wine that you are drinking. I have heard of cases where people accepted home made wine and later, when tested for drugs, marijuana in large quantities was found in the sample. It was only on checking back with the host, that it was found out that the wine contained marijuana.
Reportedly, it can also be used as a medicinal cream or as a sublingual to treat various ailments.
Effects of marijuana on the individual
If you were to speak to the users of marijuana, you would quickly realize that it’s effects on the body varies form person to person. Some persons that I have spoken to, have claimed that except for the high, the drug does nothing to them. One man told me that it calms him and he uses it whenever he is stressed or had a really terrible fight with his wife. Yet others have reported that they have experienced memory loss, hallucinations, increased appetite and drowsiness.
These effects vary according to the quantity used and the frequency of its use. The place where it is used also helps determine its effect. It has been discovered that a person smoking in an environment where he is less likely to be caught by an authority figure, experience different reactions to the person who is tense and afraid that he will be discovered.
Scientifically, marijuana use has been observed to produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, increased sociability, heightened sensory perception and increased appetite. This may be more so when small amounts are used, infrequently. This is not to say that smoking marijuana is safe.
There are two main active chemicals also called cannabinoids that are derived form the cannabis plant. They are THC – short for tetrahydrocannabinoid – and CBD – short for cannabidiol.
THC is the compound in marijuana that gives the high and other effects referred to, when you use marijuana. CBD use does not result in a high and therefore may be safe to use. It is the CBD in the cannabis that is believed to have medicinal properties. If used along with the THC however, then the latter’s effects on you may still be felt, even if you had planned to get the benefits of the CBD.
Today, CBD is widely extracted from the cannabis plant and used by some for various ailments. It is believed that the best CBD, is that derived from the hemp plant. It is found in its purest form there and contains little or no THC.
The good and bad of using marijuana
There are some medicinal uses to which marijuana can be put. One that has become very encouraging is the treatment of Dravert’s syndrome. This is a seizure disorder that has been found to respond well when treated with CBD. It can therefore be said that CBD has anticonvulsant properties. It may then prove helpful in treating those with other seizure disorders.
This is good news for those who have suffered for years with convulsions for which the available drugs proved useless.
CBD is also classed as an analgesic. It is claimed that it has the properties to relieve chronic pain associated with cancer and neuropathic conditions. It can also help stimulate appetite and relieve nausea and vomiting that sometimes occur after a person has had chemo therapy.
Tests have also revealed some evidence that it relieves muscle pain and spasticity in people suffering with multiple sclerosis.
While some people claim that it can treat glaucoma, the dosage required is equivalent to approximately 10 cigarettes per day. Such high quantities may result in intoxication and is therefore not recommended.
That was the good about marijuana. Now for the bad. You determine for yourself if smoking marijuana is safe after what you’ve read and will read. Please note that the negative or bad of marijuana shows up when THC is present.
Smoking marijuana can lead to a person becoming psychotic. This is much more likely in young people as their brain is still undergoing developmental changes. Again, the amount used and the frequency of use helps determine the damage done.
While some claim that CBD can reduce anxiety disorder and panic attacks, the fact is that most people still smoke the weed. As a result, the THC goes to work and can instead, bring on panic attacks and anxiety disorder. This is more so in relation to the environment where the smoking is done, as explained earlier.
Some people, on using the drug have been known to have suffered with what is known as demotivational syndrome. This leaves the individual with little or no desire to do or achieve anything. Later on, with long term use, this can lead to or result in the person becoming depressed.
There are also cognitive effects that occur with the use of marijuana one of which is the loss of memory, both verbal and short term. It also reduces motivation, learning, focused ability, and your ability to concentrate. In situations where the environment is quiet, a marijuana smoker may appear quite passive. If stress or hunger occurs however, that same person may become very aggressive.
Many people smoke marijuana and drive afterward. Some even combine a deadly cocktail of alcohol and marijuana before getting behind the wheel. It has however been proven that smoking marijuana before driving isn’t safe, even if you have done it many times and not gotten into an accident.
Experiments revealed that marijuana smoking affects the driver’s ability to think, his reflexes are slower and therefore he responds more slowly to an emergency. His ability to stay in lane, brake quickly, maintain speed and proper distance is also impaired. This may last for a period of between 4-6 hours after smoking one marijuana cigarette.
Are you still asking “is smoking marijuana safe?”
Then listen to this. Smoking the drug may also affect your heart since it leads to an increase heart beat and pulse rate. A smoker also may experience blood shot eyes and dry mouth and throat.
How abou t your lungs. Yes, smoking marijuana is not good for your lungs either. The drug is known to contain more than 400 other chemicals besides THC. CBD and THC are not the only cannabinoids in the plant, there are at least 54 others, three of which are psychoactive. All these enter your lungs when you inhale that puff of smoke.
Scientists now believe that as a result of the fact that marijuana smokers inhale more deeply than tobacco smokers and hold the smoke in longer, there is more harm done to the lungs from marijuana smoke than tobacco smoke. In addition, many marijuana smokers also smoke tobacco. Some well-known cancer causing chemicals found in tobacco, are also present in marijuana.
Consider what is being done to the body.
Is smoking marijuana safe for reproduction
In spite of the very positive reviews that marijuana has been receiving over the past few years, it continues to be a psycho-active drug. The active chemical in marijuana is THC. Research done by Dr. Harris Rosencrantz, of the Mason Research Institute in Worchester, Masssachusetts revealed that when pregnant rats and mice wwere given either smoked or orally taken THC, the developing fetuses died.
Under other conditions, when high doses were given to the females, all the embryos were reabsorbed. When the dosage was reduced, the number of females born were less and weighed less. No visible abnormalities were noted.
Here are some other things you seldom hear about marijuana, more so since the strong push to have it legalized. Smoking marijuana affects your ability to reproduce.
Tests have shown that when marijuana is smoked (3 to 20 cigarettes per day) there is a marked decrease in sperm count and motility – the ability of the sperm to move around. There was also an increase in the number of abnormal sperms. However, this can be reversed if the user ceases to smoke.
In Toronto, Canada, Dr. Arthur Zimmerman injected a group of mice with THC, and another group with CBN, a non-psychoactive (not capable if altering brain functions) component of marijuana. Thirty-five days later he observed a threefold increase in abnormal spermatozoids in the group of animals treated with THC, and a five fold increase in the mice treated with CBN. This experiment confirmed earlier studies according to which non-psychoactive derivatives of marijuana may be even more toxic to the cells than THC. Toward a better life Drug-Free Youth pg 16.
In the female, while there’s no proof that marijuana causes deformities in fetuses, research have proven that it does destroy embryos. At the same time, its use during pregnancy may result in premature births and low birth weights.
So, is smoking marijuana safe?
Though it has been legalized in some countries and decriminalized in many, the following facts remain true about this drug.
THC in marijuana is the chemical that is mainly responsible for the high that smokers and some ingesters get. Remove the THC and there will be no high and much fewer people will be smoking it. THC affects the brain and will linger in the body for as much as a week, depending on the amount of weed smoked.
THC affects normal brain waves and interferes with the electrical activity in the frontal cortex of the brain. This is the area that is responsible for character and moral strength. It can result in recent memory loss and poor cognition, learning and the ability to focus or concentrate. Motivation is also reduced.
Depending on the environment, a person experiencing a high, may be either passive or aggressive. Where there is stress, the possibility of aggression is increased. There is also a greater possibility of suicide, especially among females. It also increases the risk that the user will exhibit anti-social, criminal, sexual and other unwanted behaviors.
There risk for psychosis increases two-fold for marijuana users and it may also reveal schizophrenia.
The continued use results in the storage of THC in the fat cells of the body thus making its elimination more difficult. It also results in low birth weight in children whose mothers smoke or ingest the drug. In the male, it results in low sperm count and motility. Both sexes may also experience a temporary loss of fertility.
CBD, when separated from THC, has been shown to help with the treatment of Dravet’s syndrome. There have also been claims that it is an analgesic especially to help with pains from cancer and neuropathic conditions. Others say that it helps releave nausea and vomiting that accompanies chemotherapy. For persons suffering with multiple sclerosis, it may help releave the pain and spasticity that comes with this disease.
Seeing that you have read this far, what is your verdict? Is smoking marijuana safe?
Leave your comments in the box below. I look forward to hearing from each of you.