Marijuana—the drug whose legality remains heavily debated—has been increasing use since 2007. Created from the blooms of the hemp plant, the active ingredient in marijuana is a chemical called THC. THC is similar to a chemical in the brain called anandamide, which accounts for the drug’s euphoric sensations. Contrary to popular belief, marijuana can be habit-forming and can have long-term effects on the body and mind.
Brain Development and Loss of Intelligence
Research has indicated that marijuana causes decreased brain function such as memory loss and decreased intelligence if a person begins using the substance as an adolescent. Although many believe this side-effect is only temporary, many studies have shown that permanent brain damage can occur from long-term marijuana use. For example, according to a long-term study in New Zealand, teens who used marijuana throughout their adolescence lost an average of eight IQ points per user due to the drug’s effects. As adults, these teens never regained their lost intelligence.
Cancer and Conditions
The data is mixed on how smoking marijuana impacts risks of lung and other cancers. Marijuana smoke does contain a number of known carcinogens, such as benzyprene, but many of the studies on marijuana smoking and cancer seem to swing between a “yes” and a “no clear correlation”. One study in New Zealand in 2008, for instance, indicated that marijuana use correlated with an increase in lung cancer, while yet another set of American studies suggested that although marijuana use at first appeared connected to an increased risk, when other factors like cigarette smoking were controlled for, the correlation subsided. All the research done to date is often inconclusive or contradictory, yet leaning slightly toward the idea that smoking marijuana can raise cancer risk in many parts of the body.
Poor Mental Health
Aside from a bad memory and lower intelligence, long-term use of marijuana can cause poor mental health. Schizophrenia and insanity have been linked to long-time users, although this is considered an extremely rare side-effect. Other mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and panic attacks are more common long-term effects of marijuana use. These conditions create a snowball effect for many users; they use more marijuana to calm their anxiety or treat their depression, not realizing the chemicals in marijuana actually intensify the condition.
Recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in all states but two. Getting caught with possession of the drug can lead to heavy fines and even arrests. Rod Gregory, The Defence Lawyer, is one attorney that can help guide you through this difficult time.
Professional attorneys will have the resources you need to build a strong defense for your day in court. They will act as advocate, getting you the help you need to break an addiction. For more information about the long-term effects of marijuana, and how addiction can impact your life, visit Drugabuse.gov.