Truth about Marijuana

ARTICLE DISCUSSES ILLICIT DRUGS IN A SCIENTIFIC NATURE. THE UNDERGROUND HERALD DOES NOT CONDONE ILLICIT DRUG USE OF ANY KIND

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in most countries. Often considered a “gate-way” drug (a minor drug that leads to harsher drugs). When a person smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. The body absorbs THC more slowly when the person eats or drinks it. In that case, the user generally feels the effects after 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Marijuana also affects brain development. When marijuana users begin using as teenagers, the drug may reduce thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Marijuana’s effects on these abilities may last a long time or even be permanent.

The truth about Marijuana:

Myth: Marijuana’s active ingredient THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) gets stored in body fat and its effects can last days or even weeks.
Fact: It is true that marijuana (like many other drugs) enters the body’s fat stores, and it is for this reason that it can be detected long after use, but that is the only part of this myth which is true. The fact is, the psychoactive aspects of the stored cannabis are used up quickly and while the residue of the drug remains, it no longer has any effect on the person. Furthermore, the presence of THC in body fat is not harmful to the fat, the brain, or any other part of the body.

Myth: Marijuana is completely harmless.
Fact: Heavy use can be harmful. Since pot smoke is chemically very similar to tobacco smoke, heavy pot smokers are at risk for some of the same health effects as cigarette smokers, like bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses. Again, though, the risks are from smoking, which isn’t the only way to use marijuana. Another hazard: car accidents caused by driving while high, though the risk is lower than from drunk driving.

Myth: Marijuana use causes memory loss and a general reduction in logic and intelligence. Basically weed makes you stupid.
Fact: This is another myth which has elements of truth to it, probably the reason it is believed by so many. Laboratory tests have shown that marijuana diminishes the short term memory, However only when a person is intoxicated with it. A person who has taken marijuana will be able to remember things learned before they took it but may have trouble learning new information during intoxication. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to suggest that this can become a long-term or permanent problem when sober.

Myth: Marijuana has been scientifically proven to be harmful.
Fact: “The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health.” This quote comes from the peer-reviewed British medical journal The Lancet (founded in 1823). There is certainly no scientific consensus on cannabis use, and certainly no scientific proof that casual use is dangerous to health.

Myth: Marijuana use causes apathy and a lack of motivation.
Fact: Studies done on test subjects in which they were given a high dose of cannabis regularly over a period of days or weeks found that there was no loss in motivation or ability to perform. Of course, abuse of any intoxicating substance over long periods will reduce a person’s ability to function normally, but marijuana is no better or worse. Furthermore, studies indicate that marijuana users tend to have higher paid jobs than non-users.

Myth: Marijuana kills brain cells.
Fact: Marijuana does not cause any profound changes in a person’s mental ability. It is true that after taking the drug some people can experience panic, paranoia, and fright, these effects pass and certainly don’t become permanent. It is possible for a person to consume so much of the drug that they suffer from toxic psychosis, but again this is not unique to cannabis and is very rare.

Myth: Marijuana is a gateway drug – in other words, it leads to abuse of more potent drugs.
Fact: For most people, cannabis is a terminus drug, not a gateway drug. Users of high strength drugs such as heroin or LSD are also statistically more likely to have used cannabis in the past, but this is just toying with statistics; when comparing the number of cannabis users with hard-drug users, the numbers are extremely small – suggesting that there is no link at all.

Kids who use marijuana are statistically more likely to go on to use other drugs, but that doesn’t mean marijuana use causes use of other drugs. The same factors driving marijuana use probably explain use of other drugs. A report by the Institute of Medicine found “no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”

Myth: Marijuana increases crime.
Fact: Some people believe that cannabis use leads to violence and aggression, and that this, in turn, leads to crime. Serious research into this area has found that cannabis users are often less likely to commit crimes because of its effect in reducing aggression. Having said that, because of the number of nations that have outlawed cannabis, most users in the world are technically classified as criminals merely for possessing the drug.

Myth: Marijuana is more potent now than in the past.
Fact: The reason that this myth has come about is that samples taken by drug enforcement agencies are used to test for potency but they are a tiny sample of the cannabis on the market. The vast majority of cannabis taken today is the same potency as it has been for decades. In fact, even if the potency were greatly higher, it would make little difference to the user as marijuana of varying potency produces very similar effects. Furthermore, there is statistical data on cannabis potency dating back to the 1980s which is more reliable than present methods of detection, and that shows little or no increase.

Myth: Marijuana is more damaging to the lungs than cigarettes.
Fact: People who smoke marijuana, but not cigarettes tend to smoke far less frequently, thereby limiting their exposure to the dangers in the smoke. Furthermore, smokers of marijuana are not inhaling the many additives that go into commercial cigarettes to make them burn down faster or to stay alight. There has even been some evidence that marijuana smoke does not have the same effect on the bronchial tubes as cigarette smoke, so even heavy use may not lead to emphysema.

Myth: Marijuana is highly addictive.
Fact: Less than one percent of Americans smoke cannabis more than once per day. Of the heavy users, a tiny minority develop what appears to be dependence and rely on the assistance of drug rehabilitation services to stop smoking. There is nothing in marijuana which causes physical dependence and the most likely explanation for those who need assistance is that they are having difficulty breaking the habit, not the “addiction”.

Myth: Most pot smokers are heavy users
Fact: Between 40 and 50 percent of people who have tried marijuana report a lifetime total of fewer than 12 days of use. About one-third of pot smokers report having used marijuana for 10 days or less in the past year. About 6 million of America’s 30 million users over the age of 12 use pot on a daily or almost-daily basis according to household survey data – a fifth of those who say they have used marijuana in the past year – but they account for about 80 percent of all marijuana consumed.

Myth: Holland and Portugal have legalized marijuana.
Fact: The Dutch have never formally legalized marijuana. They have an official policy, since 1976, of not enforcing existing laws against possession of small amounts or coffee shops, about 700 of them, selling small amounts. But growing, distributing and importing pot is still a crime in the Netherlands. While Portugal decriminalized all drugs, that is not the same thing as legalization. Acquisition, possession and use of pot are administrative offenses in Portugal, punishable by civil sanctions such as fines or community service.

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