Unhealthy Obsessions of Marijuana - fact or fiction?

Article by: Scott Hall
            Mary Jane, Weed, Pot, Grass, Smoke and Corn are just a handful of the nicknames given to one of the most abused and illicit drugs in the world.  Lots of “hippies” smoked it for varied reasons. Many college parties and concerts have smelled it lingering around.  A few notables have mentioned it, such as former President Clinton’s famous, “I smoked it but I didn’t inhale”, not to mention the ever popular Cheech and Chong movies that gave its use a unique comical view but why is this drug so controversial?  Does it really have medicinal effects and could it be used to “revolutionize” modern medicine in the treatments of certain life threatening diseases or are we simply confused about an unhealthy obsession?  This article will take a tiny step forward (to avoid the contact high) into the world’s seemingly most talked about drug.

            In order to obtain the desired effect, Marijuana, is most commonly smoked in a cigarette form although few enjoy using other methods such as elaborate pipes or maybe even use cigar paper, that is, once it is emptied of its original contents.  In order to get to the “root” of our subject matter, we have to travel way back in time, to around 4000 B.C. when the Chinese were using the plant to make rope.  They would beat the plant with stone apparatus’s to make the plant into a fibrous material that would then be twisted and braided into a rope or other useful items (library.thinkquest.org).  China was also the first to use it as a medicine around 3000 B.C. in the treatment of malaria, beriberi, rheumatoid pains and a variety of other illnesses and in India, headaches, insomnia, and a possible cure for dysentery were among the reasons for its use.  Even though it was initially brought over by the pilgrims as a rope, eventually in the 1920’s, Americans began to discover its smoke-ability and was pronounced a “bad trip” by our government around 1937, thanks in part to its large import from our friends in Mexico.

             This drug according to history had some fairly valuable content way back before modern science stepped in the ring and said, “Wait a min, there is a few other items not being looked at.”  According to an article posted online by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (nida.nih.gov), there is more to this subject than what reddens our eyes.  Delta-9-tetrahydracannibinol, or THC in short, is the main ingredient in most marijuana plants, a chemical which is mostly absent from the similar hemp plant that is still used to make clothing, rope and other commodities.  This chemical invades the brain through the blood stream after inhalation, and our mind goes into a system where perceptions may alter, distorted thinking may occur and memory usage may trail off, especially in learning ability or recollection of certain facts.  The brain isn’t the only region that this drug affects areas such as the heart, lungs and pulmonary systems also suffer, but wait this feels too good to be bad so what gives?  As with all drug use, the longer one encounters doctor feel good’s remedy, the worse the effects become although no conclusive evidence on what happens to the brain in some cases can be exacted through the smoky abyss.

            There is good news on the horizon, extensive research and study has been done to see what good could come from the chemical composition of this plant.  Science has proven the ability to relieve a certain degree of pain, nausea and in some rare cases the treatment of anxiety (which some of the users may call being paranoid), the difference is that the chemical of the plant has been isolated and used to make new medicine, much like the alchemy days of herbal healing.  These innovative approaches in helping to treat certain conditions of the human body could provide relief to multiple sclerosis patients, such as Montel Williams, whom is an advocate for its use.  So what is the big deal about it, so far, we have seen two examples of how it could be used and may have been used as medicine as well as a look at its effects.  The answer lies in the individual, which sadly according to statistic, ranges from ages as early as 14 and goes all the way past some users who are over 60 (oas.samsha.gov).  Statistically around 20 percent of person’s sampled in 2003 or 2004 were using or had used the drug.

            Youth of all nations and origins have many pressures to face every day, and a drug with such ease of use and potential social implications of being “cool” or “down with it” seem to drive its allure.  With a drug such as marijuana, that inhibits critical thinking, those youth who are struggling will encounter a much harder struggle as the effects of the THC take hold of the cannabinoid receptors and start the user down a path that if left untreated, can cause harm to the individual’s overall health, take away hard earned money in a tight economy, disrupt the lives of family members with worry of where our child is as well as potentially providing a gateway into other drugs much more dangerous than marijuana.  Make no mistake, marijuana is dangerous, as with some of the research surrounding it shows that up to 5 hours after partaking of the drug, our risk for heart attack goes up 4.8 times, this is due to the drug elevating our heart rate, cutting off the oxygen (which has been replaced by smoke), constricting blood vessels and could cause arrhythmia or palpitations, that means your heart beats weird.

            Economic strain is also a big part of the “side effects” of this drug and not just on the money circulated through dealers hands nor the drug overlords who grow this commodity, but some studies have shown that those users who smoked marijuana and did not smoke a tobacco product, had similar rates of upper respiratory infections which cuts into available days on the job to work, and costs that incur from long term acute lung infections such as repeated bouts of bronchitis, suddenly a drug test doesn’t sound so bad.  Combine these side effects with tobacco use and viola a perfect storm of lung destruction.  While we let these small factoids “buzz” around our heads, let’s stop to think a moment.  We know that both strains of the plant itself can be used to make rope, hemp and marijuana.  We know that the main ingredient not found in hemp is THC.  We know some medicines for particular ailments have been researched or developed using the main chemical in the plant.  We know that if we smoke it, we reap the benefits of delivery, but risk the side effects of poor circulatory health, poor brain power and poor pocketbooks.  Just think, we all thought “catching a buzz” was cool back in our earlier college years. 

            Recently, due to an arrest of the Canadian “prince of pot” Marcus Emery, those who follow him are now in an uproar over whether or not to legalize its “budding” approval.  This is relevant in that not only does this “royalty of the redbud” person want to legalize the drug for both recreational and medicinal use, but once again even in our own politics the “burning” debate continues - a fact that was mentioned in an online article by Time magazine (time.com). Within the confines of this article, it mentions our President participating in an online open question forum in cooperation with LinkedIn.  The most trending questions thrown at our president were not of jobs, nor of economy.  You guessed it, our good friend Mary Jane took up the majority of the time.

            Can this “potted” scheme get any benefits other than just feeling groovy for a while; well the answer depends on where you live.  Several states (around 18 of them) including California have approved it for medical use implicating that maybe it could give a shot to the economy, after all pot is California’s biggest cash crop.  No wonder the weather is always perfect in San Francisco!  All kidding aside with some quick tax stamps on the cash crop it could be the very thing a hardened economy needs on the nations western fronts, which will not be without side effects.  Some are concerned that the social repercussions may leave us standing in a field of smoke but hey at least we will be happy standing around in our hemp brand shirts and pants, watching those who use it go off into Alice in Wonderlands castle home and have a tea party while eating lots of doughnuts. 

            Before we go to our cabinets and refrigerators to retrieve “munchables” let’s look back at what we have learned.  The plant is ancient dude, like real old and sometimes people would make rope out of it and stuff, but really cool people smoked it.  Those bozo’s in the government made it illegal and now some 80 years later, the guys on the hill are talking about letting it become like legal, but we would have to pay a hefty tax to the man.  That’s all good though, because we can use parts of the plant to like make medicines so when we get real sick we can take it or smoke even more to help us get over our coughing and general lack luster approach to doing most things.  Then, once we like convince the squares to do that we can push for like letting us smoke in our homes and hope that our idea will save the economy and maybe reduce the amount of guys like going to jail for it and stuff.  Basically, um……. Yeah, read this stuff below to um…. I need to eat something, where are those cookies?

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