Long Term Effects of Marijuanas
What is Marijuana?
Long term effects of marijuanas – Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds both from the Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica plant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and other similar compounds. Extracts can also be made from the cannabis plant. Stronger forms of the drug include high potency strains – known as sensimilla hashish (hash for short), and extracts.
Even though it shows the impression of being a harmless, fun substance, it is still a drug that can change what goes on in the mind, sometimes even comes with such significant consequences.
All type of drugs will change the way our brain works by changing the way nerve cells communicate. Nerve cells, called neurons, will normally send messages to each other by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters. Those neurotransmitters attach to molecules on neurons called receptors. So, by consuming any type of drugs will initially affect this signaling process.
When someone smokes Marijuana, THC will quickly passes from the lungs into their bloodstream, which carries it to organs throughout the body, including the brain. Its effects begin quite immediate and can last from 1 to 3 hours. This can affect certain things such as, thought process, decision making, concentration, and memory for days after use, especially in people who use marijuana regularly.
If marijuana is consumed in foods or beverages, the effects of THC appear later—usually in 30 minutes to 1 hour—and may last for many hours. Some people consume more and more waiting for the “high/euphoria” and end up in the emergency room with uncomfortable symptoms from too much THC.
As it enters the brain, THC attaches to cells, or neurons, with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are normally activated by chemicals similar to THC that occur naturally in human’s body. They are part of a communication network in the brain called the endocannabinoid system. This system is very important on how normal brain function and development.
Long-Term Effects of Marijuanas
We’ve come a long way from the days when smoking marijuana was strictly a forbidden activity. From increasing acceptance and legalization of recreational products made from pot to the use of medical marijuana to treat symptoms such as pain and nausea from cancer treatment (chemotherapy), lots of people are being more open about the role marijuana plays in their lives. But less secrecy and more availability around marijuana use doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always safe for recreational use.
Studies begin to understand the complex ways long-term marijuana use affects the body, but there are certain studies that suggest it can cause several health problems over time. These are some health problems that may be linked to using Marijuana.
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The active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, acts on cannabinoid receptors found in brain areas that affect learning process, thinking process, memory, appetite, coordination, and pleasure. Researchers are still learning the effects of long-term, chronic marijuana use on the brain, but they believe the strongest effects occur in teenagers and young adults who are still developing their cognitive and neural connections.
One study of teens found impaired neural connectivity in specific brain area involved in a wide range of executive functions like memory, learning, and impulse control compared to non-users. Teens who smoked pot regularly (each and everyday for three years) showed changes to the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for long-term memory.
Researchers learned that the longer (and more chronically) study participants used marijuana, the more abnormal the shape of their hippocampus, resulting in poor long-term memory.
Although marijuana and tobacco are two entirely different substances, smoking either can have similar effects on the lungs. Like cigarette smokers, pot smokers are also at greater risk of chest colds, bronchitis, and lung infections.
Vaping marijuana was previously believed to be a safer route of ingestion than smoking, but we now know that it can cause e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), a lung condition that causes breathing difficulties and can lead to hospitalization and even death.4
While coughing and colds are at the most annoying and such inconvenient side effects of smoking marijuana, an increased risk of lung cancer is a life-threatening one. Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco—sometimes even in higher concentrations.
Given the way marijuana is smoked (with the person often holding it in after inhaling it), it’s easy to imagine why, puff for puff, smoking marijuana may increase the risk of cancer more than smoking tobacco does.
However, as of yet, population studies have failed to find a clear increased risk of lung cancer in marijuana use. Complicating this assessment is that many people who smoke pot also smoke cigarettes and may use other substances.
Smoking marijuana could be particularly dangerous for younger men. Some studies suggest a connection between an increased risk of a particular type of testicular cancer and marijuana use.
A 2015 study in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Cancer concluded that using cannabis once a week or for more than 10 years was associated with an increased risk of testicular germ cell tumors, or TGCTs)
Everytime you’re smoking pot, your heartbeat will increase and you can experience a change in your blood pressure, which can be dangerous for people with heart disease. Researchers learned that people who use marijuana have a greater risk of heart attack after smoking as compared to people who don’t.
Studies have also found a connection between marijuana use and arrhythmias, as well as a potentially increased risk of a stroke. Cannabinoids can also potentially interfere with the effects of many drugs taken for heart disease, including anti-arrhythmias, statins, calcium-channel blockers, beta blockers, and warfarin.
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Research is still mixed on the impact of marijuana on your bone health. According to a 2017 study published in the American Journal of Medicine, people who regularly used marijuana had an increased risk of reduced bone density, which can increase the risk of bone fractures.
Yet, another study in the same year, published in Archives of Osteoporosis, found no link between marijuana use and decreased bone density.
Chronic smoking of high-potency marijuana has been found to increase the chances of psychosis (by nearly five times) compared to those who have never used the drug. Younger people in their teens and early twenties are particularly vulnerable to developing psychosis after using marijuana.
Heavy use of marijuana in adolescence (particularly in teenage girls) has also been found to be a predictor of depression and anxiety later on in a person’s life. Despite what many people believe, marijuana is potentially addictive and chronic, long-term use can result in cannabis use disorder.
Roughly one in marijuana users will eventually become addicted to the drug. Some people go for years living with marijuana addiction without realizing before they seek help.
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