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Marijuana is one of the oldest living plants originally found in China and dating all the way back to 8

Marijuana is one of the oldest living plants originally found in China and dating all the way back to 8,000 B.C. the Chinese used this cannabis plant for many things including food, clothing, paper, and medicine. Today this plant is commonly used for medical and recreational purposes throughout the United States. The debate that the drug should be legalized throughout the country is very current in our society. However, this paper will look specifically at what marijuana is, the different varieties, its relevance in our society today, and the medical and recreational uses of marijuana and the effects it has on the people who use it.
Marijuana also referred to as cannabis or weed, is made from dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. Marijuana consists of shredded leaves, seeds, stems, and flowers. There are many ways that marijuana can be ingested: smoked, eaten, vaporized, brewed and topically, generally smoked is the most common. Many of us think green when it comes to marijuana, however, the color of marijuana is a debated topic. Cannabis can display many different colors throughout the growing process including reds, pinks, and purples. While some people believe these colors indicate a stronger more potent bud, others feel that the sight of any other color but green indicates that the plant was grown in a cold climate. The truth is in the middle, while colder temperatures do influence the color of the plant, other things like the PH level, sunlight and how much water a plant has also played a factor. As far as the potency of the plant is concerned, the color has no real effect, meaning a purple marijuana plant could have as much potency as a green plant.
When it comes to cannabis there are three major strains, all having various effects, and each serving a specific purpose. The three major cannabis categories are Indica, Sativa, and Hybrids. Hybrid cannabis is simply a mix between an Indica and Sativa based cannabis plant. Sativa plants tend to be tall and lanky and are characterized by thin pointy leaves while also having a sweet and spicy odor. Indica plants, on the other hand, are short and stocky, having broad chunky leaves and tend to have a strong and skunky odor. Sativa strains are very uplifting and sometimes stimulate the brain, allowing patients to get work done and live active lives. Indica strains, on the other hand, delivers a lack of energy and causes harsh munchies. This strain is often more readily available to the common buyer. The reason for this is that Indica plants yield more during harvest producing a greater profit for those who sell it, while also having a quicker growing process.
“Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, is responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. This chemical acts a lot like the cannabinoid chemicals which are made naturally by our bodies. Our cannabinoid receptors are mostly associated with areas of our brain that deal with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. When THC attaches to these receptors it affects these parts of our brain, THC also interferes with how information is processed in the hippocampus” (Bradford). The hippocampus is the part of our brain that is responsible for forming new memories, regulating emotional responses and plays an important role in our ability to see and navigate our surroundings. Because THC affects important parts of our brain related to our hippocampus it is important to realize these effects before using a THC based drug. It is also important to know the side effects, driving can be impaired by taking a THC drug in the same way that alcohol affects people when they drive.
THC is an important factor for recreational marijuana, users of marijuana who are trying to get high want a drug with more THC in it. Cannabidiol also known as CBD is also found in marijuana and is an important ingredient for the medical use of marijuana. CBD has no psychological effects and does not produce the high that comes with THC based marijuana. CBD naturally counteracts a marijuana high and acts to reduce the intoxicating effects that THC has. CBD based products are also used by some people for their pets. These products target certain health concerns in animals including anxiety, epilepsy, joint pain and skin problems. While a lot of the studies done on CBD have not been conducted on human beings making it hard to determine how it exactly works on the body, that has not stopped scientists from testing it as a treatment.
Now that we have a little better understanding of marijuana and the different strains that make up this drug, we can now look at how it is used for medical and recreational purposes. Marijuana used for medical purposes has now been legalized in 31 different states, 9 of which also allow recreational use. The process of legalizing marijuana has taken nearly two decades, and although there are still many restrictions and guidelines on this drug, the states that have not legalized marijuana for medical purposes are expected to continue to shrink. While the number of states not allowing any type of marijuana continues to shrink, marijuana according to the federal government is still an illegal substance. This means that anyone working for the federal government or receiving federal housing are prohibited from using marijuana for any reason.
In the United States, it is estimated that 80% of doctors are willing to approve the use of medical marijuana, and 92% of patients that have used marijuana for medical purposes stated that it helped in some way. The use of medical marijuana has been shown to be an equally consumed drug among different groups and by men and women alike. The drug is also proven to be used throughout many different adult age groups, however, young adults are more likely to use it.
As stated earlier in this paper the strain CBD is the most important ingredient for medical marijuana purposes. Medical marijuana is generally looked at as a positive thing, and while it does have some negative effects most doctors will still prescribe this drug. “Marijuana is a powerful drug with a variety of effects. However, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications” (Joy 5). This means that the effects people might experience using medical marijuana, can also be experienced in other over the counter drugs. A study published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics stated that CBD can help stop cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1. More research on CBD stopping cancer has shown that marijuana slows tumor growth in the brain, breasts, and lungs by a considerable amount. THC can also serve medical purposes but it a lot less commonly used for medical reasons compared to CBD. One instance where THC does help medically is in preventing Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s happens when an enzyme in our brain begins to divide improperly, creating a form called beta-amyloid which is toxic to the neurons in our brain. THC has been proven to help slow the formation of beta-amyloid by blocking the enzyme in our brain that makes them. Other medical advantages include treating glaucoma essentially helping to prevent blindness. Marijuana helps relieve arthritis, reducing pain, inflammation, and helps to promote sleep for those who have trouble sleeping. In low doses, it will help decrease anxiety by improving the smoker’s mood and acting as a sedative. However, it can also do the opposite by increasing anxiety and make people paranoid in large doses of marijuana use. A very common use of medical marijuana is for people who are going through chemotherapy. Chemo patients generally suffer from severe pains, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Marijuana can help reduce pain, decrease nausea and help stir up the appetite of the chemo patient. These are just some of the positive effects and impacts for people who have used medical marijuana, there are countless other benefits this plant has (Kabir).
While marijuana can clearly have positive effects on medical use and helps to cure certain symptoms, the recreational use of marijuana is a lot murkier. People who use marijuana as a recreational drug generally claim that it helps them unwind and connect with their inner self. Other reasons people might use recreational marijuana often include peer pressure, influence from family members and friends, and sometimes out of curiosity. Often when marijuana is used as a recreational drug the pros are outweighed by the cons and can have serious health effects. Understanding the negative effects of marijuana among recreational users is equally important in understanding the positive effects of medical marijuana.
At the beginning of this paper, we defined THC as being one of the main ingredients in recreational marijuana. The potency level of pot found in THC drugs has continued to steadily increase over the last couple of decades. “A recent study had researchers look at over 38,600 samples of illegal marijuana that had been seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration over 20 years. They found that the level of THC had risen from 4% in 1995 to about 12% in 2014. Meanwhile, CBD the drug generally associated with medical use of marijuana fell from 0.28 percent in 2001 to less than 0.15 percent in 2014” (Blaszczak-Boxe). We can gather from this evidence, that a lot of the pot being consumed today has a much greater effect on the hippocampus and less medical benefits. Pot with lower doses of THC generally makes people want to eat more and make people feel good. However, pot with higher doses of THC could potentially involve higher risks of negative health effects. Another important thing to consider is that people who smoke pot on a regular basis, often need to gradually increase the THC in their pot to get the same effects as before.
Marijuana use especially those with high THC levels is proven to cause both short and long-term problems. When this drug is consumed over long periods of time the damage that it can cause to our bodies is generally under mistaken. The short-term effects of marijuana use are normally related to the highs that come with it. Among these short-term effects are slowed reflexes, decreased muscle coordination, a loss of short-term and working memory, as well as increased heart rate and appetite. The long-term effects of marijuana use are generally split into two different categories, these categories include long-term mental effects and long-term physical effects. The long-term physical effects of marijuana primarily include respiratory disorders. The reason for this is that many marijuana users consume this drug either via smoking or cigarettes. Inhaling any type of smoke in our lungs links us to lung cancer and can have a devastating impact. It is also thought that males, in particular, have detrimental effects on marijuana use with high THC. A receptor that is found in male sperm has been proven to react to the presence of THC and can cause major damage. A study done on testicular cancer found that someone who smokes marijuana weekly is at 70% more risk than in men who did not smoke or smoked very little. Long-term mental effects caused by marijuana can include depression, anxiety, and psychosis which is a mental disorder characterized by a disconnection from reality (“The Effects Of Marijuana Abuse”).
While marijuana does provide a short-term relief with certain symptoms, one must weigh the long-term effects. For those who have smoked weed and continue to do so, it is important to understand the ways in which one would stop using this drug if they so choose. The first step in getting one’s self off this drug is to maybe spend less time with those people you hang around who also smoke weed. Another way would be to limit your use and begin to enjoy those things that you used to enjoy before you were always in a drug-induced daze. There are plenty of other recreational hobbies that one might find themselves enjoying that could potentially be less risky to their health. If you enjoy smoking marijuana then you have every right to make that decision, at the very least hopefully this paper has informed you of both the potential positives and negative impacts of your choice.

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