I came across this tweet yesterday which made me think about how my stoner friends actually react whenever I tell them about the harmful effects of smoking weed on daily basis.
If you are one of the person who is still away from weed/marijuana, you can relate to this tweet. “Elon musk also smokes weed” or “Look at snoop dogg and his creativity” or they would name 100 other celebrities whenever you question their addiction. Most of your friends who are now addicted to this thing (though they won’t accept) are commonly facing these issues:
- They lost good amount of weight (fat but muscle mass as well)
- They are suffering from short term memory issues (very few acknowledge this)
- They find difficulty in their speech and sentence formation
- They are angry or frustrated without it
- They have created their own world in their minds where everything is in order (but in reality nothing is)
- They think it brings out their creativity (you will find this commonly among artists)
My idea here is not to offend any stoner or regular weed smoker. I am just trying to help. And for same reason I contacted Snehal Singh who is forensic graduate and now pursuing clinical and criminal psychology. I asked her to send her research and all the findings on Marijuana consumption. Read on.
Cannabis is the scientific name for the hemp. There are various kinds of cannabis. The leaves and flowers of each produce varying mind-altering and medicinal effects when smoked or consumed.
Marijuana is the Mexican slang word for cannabis leaves and flowers. It refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC and other similar compounds.
According to Centre of Addictions research, there are at least three main reasons why youngsters indulge in cannabis use:
1) At times they just want to know what being high feels like.
2) To fit in— occasionally to fit in at parties or just to have fun.
3) To cope—some feel they need to be in an altered state to feel okay about themselves and their world
People smoke marijuana in
• hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or in pipes or water pipes (bongs)
• blunts—emptied cigars that have been partly or completely refilled with marijuana. To avoid inhaling smoke, some people are using vaporizers.
Marijuana smoking is followed by, THC passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs. The body absorbs THC more slowly when the person eats or drinks it. In that case, they generally feel the effects after 30 minutes to 1 hour.
THC acts on specific brain cell receptors that ordinarily react to natural THC-like chemicals. These natural chemicals play a role in normal brain development and function. Marijuana increasingly activates parts of the brain that contain the highest number of these receptors. This causes the “high” that people feel.
Marijuana shows considerable promise for treating medical conditions including pain, muscle spasms, seizure disorders and nausea from cancer chemotherapy. At least some of those benefits are thought to come from cannabidiol, a chemical component of the marijuana plant not thought to produce mind-altering effects. But there’s a lot left to learn about this and other chemical compounds in marijuana. (Weir,2015)
According to research conducted by Duke psychologist Terrie Moffitt and colleagues, persistent marijuana use is linked to a decline in IQ, even after the researchers controlled for educational differences. The most persistent users experienced a drop in neuropsychological functioning equivalent to about six IQ points (PNAS, 2012).
According to Staci Gruber, PhD, a neuroscientist there are some reasons to think that adolescents may be susceptible to lasting damage from marijuana use. At least until the early or mid-20s, “the brain is still under construction,”.
Marijuana smoking is followed by, THC flow from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs. THC acts on specific brain cell receptors that ordinarily react to natural THC-like chemicals. These natural chemicals play a role in normal brain development and function. Marijuana over activates parts of the brain that contain the highest number of these receptors. This is the main cause of the “high” that people feel.
Some of the short term effects include:
o Altered senses including the sense of time
o Frequent changes in mood
o The negative effect on thinking and problem-solving
o Impaired memory (The memory issues come from the way marijuana hits the hippocampus, the region of the brain that regulates short-term memory. The effect of cannabis temporarily prevents the brain from developing new memories and learning new things, which is a form of short-term memory).
Another study published in JAMA Internal Medicine noted that there was “a consistent association with verbal memory for chronic exposure to marijuana,” As past years of marijuana use went up, verbal memory scores went down; expressed numerically, 50 per cent of pot smokers tended to remember one fewer word from a list of 15 words. One of the study’s authors worried that “this transient effect” could damage how the brain processes information and how that information is recalled later.
Research signifies that people who regularly smoke marijuana for certain years struggle with cognitive tasks more than those who either do not smoke cannabis or who do so infrequently and/or for shorter periods of time. According to one researcher speaking to Reuters Health, people who smoke marijuana occasionally and then give up the habit (“as most cannabis users do”) have a lower risk of developing problems with their thinking power and memory.
o Hallucinations, delusions and /or psychosis (When taken in high doses).
Long term effects of Cannabis use:
• In 2013, Rocio Martin-Santos, MD, PhD, at the University of Barcelona, and colleagues studied that chronic cannabis use provides consistent evidence of both structural brain abnormalities and altered neural activity in marijuana users. Marijuana use has been linked to mental health problems, such as disorganized thinking, paranoia, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens. However, study findings have been mixed.
• THC negatively affects the production of testosterone. It has been found through research that THC leads to a reduction in sperm motility, or a sperm’s ability to swim properly, which also contributes to male infertility (Fronczak, Kim, & Barqawi, 2012).
• Some studies suggest that if you carry certain genes you may be at increased risk for developing a psychiatric disorder. If you are amongst those specific genes carrier than you are 7 times more at the risk of developing psychosis. (NIDA, 2016; Caspi et al. 2005).
It also accounts for the high risk of anxiety and depression.
• Basal ganglia and cerebellum both are responsible for movement, coordination and balance. THC disrupts functions of both. National Institute on drug abuse has reported that marijuana use can lead to decreased motor responses. It can cause impairs if motor coordination and reaction time. (For instance, impact on driving).
• Research findings report that people who start using marijuana at the age of 16 or younger demonstrate brain variation that indicates affected brain development in the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for complex thinking, judgement and reasoning. People who start using marijuana after the age of 16 experience accelerated brain ageing.
People are complex and life is messy sometimes so there’s no “one answer” for everyone. However social sciences aim at formulating a hypothesis and testing it on a sample group that represents the population. Thus the findings from the research studies mentioned above demonstrate the impact of cannabis on a sample that represents the population.
BATES, B. (2010). Depression Tends to Follow Cannabis Use. Internal Medicine News, 43(3), 26. doi:10.1016/s1097-8690(10)70153-0
Blakemore, S., Dahl, R., Frith, U., & Pine, D. (2011). Developmental cognitive neuroscience. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 1(1), 3-6. doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2010.08.003
Cannon, M., Arseneault, L., Poulton, R., Murray, R., Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. (2003). Cannabis use in adolescence and risk for adult psychosis: A birth cohort study. Schizophrenia Research, 60(1), 35. doi:10.1016/s0920-9964(03)80102-0
Crane, N., Schuster, R. M., Mermelstein, R. J., & Gonzalez, R. (2014). Neuropsychological and Affective Sex Differences in Cannabis Users. PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e534632014-001
Fronczak, C. M., Kim, E. D., & Barqawi, A. B. (2011). The Insults of Illicit Drug Use on Male Fertility. Journal of Andrology, 33(4), 515-528. doi:10.2164/jandrol.110.011874
McClure, E. A., Lydiard, J. B., Goddard, S. D., & Gray, K. M. (2015). Objective and subjective memory ratings in cannabis-dependent adolescents. The American Journal on Addictions, 24(1), 47-52. doi:10.1111/ajad.12171
I did a poll on Instagram about same issue:
Results shows that people are still not aware about the addiction of this substance or they are not ready to accept it. Few questions which can help you to decided if you are addicted to marijuana/weed or not-
- Do you smoke daily? (if yes, you are an addict)
- Do you feel like smoking up daily? (if yes, you are on your way to become an addict)
- Do you disregard or force people who avoid smoking marijuana/weed? (if yes, you are an addict)
- Do you think by smoking it daily, it will act like some kind of magic herb which will solve all your ongoing issues like bad relationship or anxiety or depression or fat loss? (if yes, you have traces of addiction)
- Is it your escape from reality? (if yes, you are an addict)
- Can you quit it? (if yes. Do it now!)
The problem with such mind altering substances is that we ignore the limits of adding these things in our body. Just like too much of caffeine or nicotine or any other herb can cause issues, same goes with marijuana. Few substances are rather helpful if you micro dose it. (just a hint – you can google and learn about it more).
Hit me up on my Email or DM me on Instagram for further discussion.