It is now 2015 and marijuana use has become very open and rather popular. Recent studies have found it can be very useful for a number of ailments. Science has even created versions of it to better suit different individual’s needs, even a strand that does not give the user a high; Charlotte’s Web only delivers the effects to reduce anxiety, invoke hunger, and reduce seizures among other things. It is legal for recreational use in some states and legal medically in many more, and has been decriminalized in several; although there are still some very serious consequences for using marijuana, including circumstances that fall through the cracks of the new born legislation that makes it legal. These loopholes or gaps can make it very difficult on marijuana users and their families. Particularly for individuals that use marijuana medically that are pregnant or have children.

While you may not be pushed for marijuana use in some states, if you do have or are having children those laws protecting you are null and void. Marijuana, even in states where it is legal, is still considered a controlled substance. So, any individual that tests positive for THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for the high, can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for controlled substance abuse. Marijuana, despite popular belief, can be habit forming.

Marijuana

Marijuana is labeled as a schedule I controlled substance in the class of cannabinoid. More than one in three Americans have tried marijuana at one point in their lives. Marijuana comes from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The active ingredient that causes the ‘high’ sensation is THC. Marijuana can be consumed by smoking the plant material, eating it in other foods, or given as an oral drop. Marijuana affects every aspect of the body; including the nervous system and immune system. Smoking marijuana causes the body to absorb the THC immediately (eating a ‘weed-brownie’ or any other marijuana infused food takes longer to feel the effects).

Effects of Marijuana

-Increased heart rate for up to three hours.

-Increased bleeding.

-Lower blood pressure.

-Affects blood sugar.

-Smoking irritates the lungs which can cause ongoing coughing, chest colds, and lung infections.

-Dizziness

-Shallow breathing

-Red eyes and dilated pupils

-Dry mouth

-Increased appetite

-Slowed reaction time

Most people would agree that they smoke marijuana because they like the way it makes them feel happy, relaxed, or detached from reality. In reality marijuana use can cause:

-A distorted sense of time

-Random thinking

-Paranoia

-Anxiety

-Depression

-Short-term forgetfulness

Marijuana Use

It was accepted that the long term use of marijuana, and thus exposure to the chemical THC has effects on the brain, but to what extent? In a recent study the group of researchers decided to monitor 48 chronic marijuana users compared to 62 nonusers via an MRI machine, while assessing their IQ. The most noticeable difference was the reduced volume in the orbital frontal gyri. This area is one of the primary areas for the reward part of the brain, but it is also important for decision-making, the part of the brain that decides if something is good or bad for us. This part of the brain contains high levels of the cannabinoid receptors, which is where THC binds. In an effort to balance the system the brain reduces the amount of those receptors. This is the evidence that marijuana is addictive. Fewer of these receptors force the need for the individual to refill them with more THC, or abusing more marijuana. This is why habitual marijuana users will increase their intake of marijuana; they create a higher level of tolerance.

Marijuana Abuse

The danger of becoming addicted to a certain substance depends on the substance of the addiction. The safety of marijuana use as a recreational drug and medical alternative now sits in a different light. Even though these numbers state that nearly half daily marijuana users become addicted the authors of these reports have turn ambivalent to the legalization of marijuana use. It is up to the individual what they are comfortable taking to relieve whatever ails them. Regardless of what individuals choose to use for illness, using a drug daily runs considerable risk. It would be more beneficial to find a healthier, natural remedy for the illness.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

It has always been accepted that marijuana was not an addictive drug. Those abusers could stop using the drug, on their own will without trouble. Recently new data has proved the opposite. A study that was released earlier this year has found 40% of marijuana abuses in outpatient treatment programs have shown withdrawal symptoms. A SAMHSA survey found that there were 5.4 million Americans the used marijuana daily, where daily was defined by using 300 or more days in the last year. The survey also found that 18.9 million said they used marijuana at least once in the last month. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that up to half of daily marijuana smokers become addicted, which is estimated at 2.7 million people in the United States. Both SAMHSA and NIDA agree that nearly half of the daily marijuana users have developed dependency issues as a result, ergo they are addicted. This possibility was corroborated by Wayne D. Hall, a professor and director of Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, who stated the he, uses the words dependency and addiction interchangeably. Therefore the only difference is a person’s preference of semantics, but it is confirmed that marijuana is addictive. It is also understood that individuals with existing mental issues like depression, anxiety, or stress are more likely to develop an addiction to marijuana.

Marijuana as a Gateway Drug

Gateway drugs are any drug that promotes or eases the introduction to more and harder drug use and abuse. For several decades it was understood that marijuana was ‘The Gateway Drug’. Prescription drugs have taken control as the most commonly abused gateway drug, but that does not ease the tension on marijuana being a gateway drug. Many individuals are capable of using marijuana responsibly, but it can easily pave the way for further drug use and abuse. Studies have shown that individuals who are willing and able to use marijuana are more likely to abuse harder drugs. There is not any direct correlation between marijuana experimentation or use and hard drugs like heroin. That does not mean that one cannot cause the other, but rather there is a process that can lead someone to harder drug use. Anyone that is using or abusing marijuana should be conscious of their use. A professional addiction specialist should be contacted if you believe, or you are told, you are using marijuana in excess. There are thousands of professional addiction specialists that are within a phone call of providing help to anyone that asks for it.