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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Nack

Marijuana and its effects

Marijuana is a substance that is commonly used by people, and it is becoming legal in more and more places within the United States. It can be ingested or smoked to obtain its bodily effects. When smoking it, marijuana travels into the lungs and then to the bloodstream, from there it goes all over the body, and into the brain as well. These effects of the drug happen almost immediately. Euphoria, relaxation, heightened sensory perception, laughter, distorted time perception, and an increase in appetite are common. If the drug is ingested and processed in the stomach, it can take between 30 minutes and an hour to see effects. Some people who take marijuana may feel anxiety, fear, or panic (“What are marijuana’s effects?, 2020). Thinking, attention, memory, coordination, movement, and time perception will all be impacted ("Brain health," 2020). Frequent use of high doses of marijuana can lead to disorientation, unpleasant feelings of anxiety, and paranoia. People who use marijuana are more likely to develop temporary psychosis or even more long lasting disorders such as schizophrenia. This is seen more when people start younger with consistently high doses. Depression, social anxiety, and suicidality are more likely for people who regularly use the substance ("Mental health," 2020) .

One study done on both recreational and regular cannabis users found that the regular users had a decrease in gray matter in the parts of the brain such as the medial temporal cortex, temporal pole, parahippocampal gyrus, left insula, and orbitofrontal cortex. These are places that have more cannabinoid receptors, which are the places in the brain that can receive the drug and thus can be influenced by it (Battistella et al., 2014, p. 2041-2048). Gray matter has many neurons within it, making information processing and releasing new information possible. Gray matter is quite significant for the function of the body in all aspects. To see a decrease in this would cause functioning in the affected areas to be decreased as well (Mercadante & Tadi, 2022). Marijuana can increase heart rate and blood pressure almost immediately, making the risk for stroke, heart disease, and other vascular diseases higher. Similarly to alcohol, marijuana can negatively impact one’s ability to drive safely. Reaction time is decreased, and decision making becomes more difficult. Using multiple substances at once, for example marijuana with alcohol, can further increase this impairment. As many people smoke marijuana, lung tissue can be scarred and small blood vessels can become damaged (“What we know about marijuana”, 2020).

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