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Marijuana's Effects on Human Physiology and the Brain

Marijuana's Effects on Human Physiology and the Brain

Marijuana is a mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. There are many street names for marijuana including weed, hashish, pot, reefer, boo, ace, grass, Mary-Jane, MJ, bud, the happy plant, as well as many local slang terms. All forms of marijuana have hallucinogenic properties, which come from the leaves and stems, and more importantly, from the buds or flowers of the plant. The most potent form of marijuana, hashish, comes from the resin found on the surface of the female plant. The hallucinogenic substance in Cannabis is the chemical known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Marijuana has many different effects on the human body. Areas effected include the brain, heart, lungs, stomach, reproductive system, immune system, and the circulatory system. Each part of the body affected has multiple ways of reacting. Cannabis use effects the user in some ways not noticeable to himself. These effects include denial, immaturity, memory loss, and delay of adolescent brain development.

Marijuana effects the brain in many different ways. Marijuana inhibits short-term memory by disrupting the nerve cells the hippocampus, the area of the brain where memories are formed. THC binding to receptors in the cerebellum slows reactions and visual tracking, impairing ability to drive or operate machinery. Long term use brings on the inability to extract and understand concepts. Deeper in the brain the psychological effects come into play. Frequent usage changes one’s perceptions, resulting in more intense physical feelings and less intense emotional feelings. Continued stimulation of THC receptors creates the need for more, resulting in addiction. Depending on individual physiological reactions, the use of marijuana can lead to the use of harder drugs such as heroin and methamphetamines.

A delay in adolescent brain development is common when marijuana usage begins at a young age. Basically, the teenage brain stops developing. “Some frequent users feel a lack of initiative and concern about the future, find it hard to become or stay motivated, and think things will take care of them selves.” (Wapner, Roger, 1995) As a result, the normal maturation process is interrupted. Development of coping skills, a code of ethics, acceptance of responsibility, and other signs of maturity frequently cease or regress. As a result, many milestones of life, such as graduation, may be...

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Category:   Drug Policy

Length:   6 pages (1,306 words)

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