Casual use of marijuana is a popular culture today. Marijuana is smoked as pipe or rolled smoked as cigarettes. Some people add it in food as well. Marijuana is one of the most commonly used illicit drugs in the world. It is prepared from dried form of flower, stem and leaves of the Cannabis sativa plant. Though thought to have gained popularity with hippies in early 1990s, Marijuana culture has a long history of consumption. Bhang, i.e. offering given to Lord Shiva, Hindu God, is dried seeds, leaves and stems of the Cannabis sativa or just another name of the drug. Cannabis is also linked with Norse love goddess, Freya in ancient Germanic culture. Cannabis appears in the ancient Hindu mythology Atharvaveda as one of the five scared plantsand also was one of the prime crops in ancient China. The plant was cultivated for food and hemp fiber before cotton came into limelight. The plant is also recorded as therapeutic agent in ancient Hindu and Chinese scripts. In 1977 Carl Sagan proposed that Cannabis may have actually been the world’s first agricultural crops which lead to civilization.
With the use of marijuana reaching a toll every year, whether the drug benefits or affects human health is an ongoing debate. Researchers argue that the drug has several short and long term detrimental effects while the other school of thought argues that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco and should be legalized. Some countries have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes and many have decriminalized the drug. Marijuana was legalized in two states in USA for recreational purposes namely California and Washington. On 10 December 2013 the sale, production and distribution of marijuana was legalized in Uruguay for the first time in the world.
No matter which school of thought we support it is clear by all means that the psychoactive drug is not free from undesirable short and long term effects. The article describes some of the prominent effects of marijuana consumption.
Paranoia is exhibited by both causal and chronic smokers. There exists a region in brain called amygdala which is responsible for regulating anxiety and fear. The region comprises of cannabinoid receptors which are activated by cannabinoid, the chemicals present in marijuana. As consumers inhale the smoke the cannabinoid particularly THC present in the smoke reaches brain and adheres with cannabinoid receptors. The response is the enhanced fear and delusion.
Redding of eyes is one of the acute effects of marijuana consumption. The drug contains many psychoactive ingredients among which delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a major one. The compound decreases blood pressure, increases heart beat and causes vasodilatation of blood vessels. The increase in diameters of blood arteries also occurs in optic region and the blood supply to the eyes increases giving blood-red appearance. In some people, the smoke may act as irritant and produce red eyes.
Obese stoners are rare. Though the drug is thought to cause munchies i.e. craving for sweet food, chronic marijuana users are found have lower waistlines, optimum insulin levels and high good cholesterol .However, the reason for the mysterious finding has not been accurately pointed out. It is hypothesized that cannabis dependence involves greater physical exercise. Further research needs to be conducted to accurately find out the reasons. The finding has opened up the potential use of marijuana for fighting diabetes and obesity.