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Effects Of Pot Essay

1315 words - 5 pages

The Health Effects of Marijuana on HumansTim MurphyIntroductionMarijuana has been used as a drug since the beginning oftime, yet there are still many mysteries about its healtheffects on humans. Marijuana, or cannabis sativa, is apreparation of the crushed flowers and buds of female hempGood Paper. 4 pages long B+plant. The existence of the plant has been reported asearly as 1500-1200 BC. in China, and cannabis has beendescribed as an analgesic as early as 200 AD .Since then, an overwhelming number of studies have attemptedto explain the physical and psychological effects ofGood Paper. 4 pages long B+cannabis on humans.Physical EffectsPhysically, cannabis is relatively harmless. Studieshave observed interesting results, including that it causesstructural changes in the brain, depresses male spermcounts, causes chromosome damage, lowers testosteronelevels, and damages the lungs. Most of these claims,however, have been unreplicated in humans or have beencontradicted by other work. This section will address eachof these reported negative side-effects.Various studies have claimed that cannabis destroys braincells. However, several other studies found no structuralor neurochemical atrophy in the brain at all. Furthermore, itshould be noted that Heath's work was sharply criticized foravoiding safeguards of bias and reporting 'changes' thatoccur normally in the mammalian brain.Wu et al. found a correlation between cannabis useand low sperm counts in human males. This is misleadingbecause a decrease in sperm count has not been shown to havea negative effect on fertility and because the sperm countreturns to normal after cannabis use has stopped..Another claim made was that cannabis causes chromosomebreakage. The primary source for this are studies that wereconducted by Dr. Gabriel Nahas in the early 1980s. Nahasobserved abnormalities in somatic (not sex) cells of rhesusmonkeys in vitro (i.e., in test tubes and petri dishes) andthen made the unjustified conclusion that these changeswould occur in human bodies in vivo (in the body). Nahas'work was criticized by his colleagues and, in 1983, hebacked away from his own conclusions.A widely held claim has also been that cannabis lowersmale testosterone levels. This theory hasbeen challenged by several studies that found nocorrelation at all. Marijuana and Health, also, afterreviewing literature at that time, concluded that 'Due toconflicting and incomplete evidence, it is not possible toconclude at the present time whether marijuana smoking hasa significant effect upon gonadotropic and testosteroneconcentrations in humans.'The most serious physical danger of using cannabis is insmoking it. Inhaling any sort of burnt plant matter is notvery good for the lungs. Tashkin et al. reportsdecreased gas exchange capacity and the existence ofparticle residue in the lungs of marijuana smokers severaltimes greater than for tobacco smokers. Wu noted that marijuanais several times more carcinogenic than tobacco. These...

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