Physical And Psychological Effects Of Marijuana

1110 words - 4 pages

Marijuana while illegal on a federal level has been legalized in 18 states and the District of Columbia for medical use and also for personal use for anyone over 21 in Washington and Colorado. 48% of Americans admit to using marijuana according to a 2013 survey conducted by Scientific America. With the change in public opinion concerning marijuana the need to understand the effect and consequences associated with its use are vitally important. What are the effects on the brain and the rest of the body? Does it matter when you start using marijuana? Also what is the effect marijuana use has on a person’s life, to include school, work, family and friends.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse marijuana causes the user to feel euphoric by acting on the brain’s reward system. The euphoria is caused by the release of dopamine it to the user system. Other effects can include heightened sensory perception (e.g., brighter colors), laughter, altered perception of time, and increased appetite. Marijuana also inhibits the formation of new memories and causes coordination and balance to be degraded. These reactions are caused by binding the receptors in the cerebellum and base ganglia. The effect is similar to the impairments that are normally associated with consuming alcohol. Habitual users can also develop acute psychosis, a fundamental derangement of the mind (as in schizophrenia) characterized by defective or lost contact with reality especially as evidenced by delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech and behavior (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). The IQ level of a marijuana users also decreases over time according to a Duke University study conducted by clinical psychologist Madeline Meier “people who began using pot earlier in life and used it most frequently over the years experienced an average decline of eight IQ points by the time they turned 38. By comparison, those who never smoked pot had an average increase of one IQ point by the same age. (Scientific America, 2013)” However when the data was reanalyzed by Ole Røgeberg of the Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research in Oslo he suggested the IQ difference could be explained by socioeconomic factors. The effects of marijuana on the brain are still being studied as science approaches a clearer understanding.
The effects of marijuana on the body, while originating from the brain, are more evident. Various physical symptoms include an increased heart rate that may increase by as little as 20 beats per minute or as much a double the users resting heart rate. The heart rate returns to normal after approximately 20 minutes. The eyes also exhibit a drop of pressure accompanied by the sclera becoming bloodshot and dilation of the pupils. A dryness in the mouth also referred to as “cotton mouth” and a sensation of hot or cold typically felt in the hands and feet however the sensation can be sometimes felt throughout the entire body. Finally a relaxation of the...

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