Long-Term Effects of Cannabis
Cannabis, commonly called marijuana, is a psychoactive drug that produces mind-altering effects. Derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, marijuana contains over 400 chemicals, the most notable being THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) -which is the main chemical ingredient that produces the psychoactive effects.
As one of the most popular and affordable drugs on the market today, most people consider cannabis to be a safe substance, and it is used recreationally to enhance social experiences or alter moods in general. Some use cannabis as a means of long-term pain management as well. Until recently, cannabis was totally illegal for sale and consumption in the United States, but recent changes in regulations have seen it become legal in several states. The change in cannabis’s legal status has led to an increase in recreational use, which has resulted in the dispensing of cannabis through prescriptions written by health care providers (medical marijuana) who are treating patients with conditions such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), chronic pain, and anxiety-related disorders.
Cannabis affects the cannabinoid receptors in the brain (called CB1 And CB2 receptors). The psychological effects of cannabis result from the stimulation of the CB1 receptors. This stimulation provides a change in the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. The transmitters (present to affect mood, motor control, memory and learning, perception, pain relief, plus ocular and saliva stimulation) include glutamate, endorphins, acetylcholine and noradrenaline.
Another concern is that, because cannabis works on areas of the brain associated with mood, people who use the drug are more prone to developing conditions of anxiety or depression. It is also suggested that for users who have a predisposed but unseen genetic disorder (such as schizophrenia), they may see it materialize because of marijuana use.
In females studied, research has shown a reduced production of estrogen and progesterone (sex hormones) and that THC and cannabis smoke inhalation can negatively impact fetal growth and development.
Have more questions about Marijuana abuse?Read the most frequently asked questions
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