Skip to main content

Marijuana / Cannabis

marijuana budsThe debate over this drug has been going on for decades. While some claim it is harmless and beneficial medically and socially, others say it is highly addictive and leads inevitably to depression and lack of motivation.

Forms

names include: pot, weed, grass, reefer, mary jane, bud, smoke, and trees

The buds of the female plant are smoked or vaporized for their THC content. The plant can also be prepared in butter and ingested with food (like brownies).

Effects

positive

negative

  • mood lift
  • relaxation
  • heightened sensory perception
  • increased appetite
  • decreased anxiety
  • decreased nausea
  • coughing
  • blood-shot eyes
  • dry mouth
  • tachycardia (racing heartbeat)
  • discontinuities in linear thought
  • difficulties with short-term
  • memory
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • paranoia

Addiction potential

Marijuana is not usually considered physically addictive, though it is certainly psychologically addictive. Some users habitually tend to get stoned all the time, and it is rare but nonetheless possible for these every-day smokers to experience mild withdrawal symptoms if they have been smoking perpetually for long enough and stop. However, these symptoms mostly include the desire to smoke marijuana and general boredom. In a worst-case scenario, the user will substitute some other substance for his/her marijuana habit; the most popular choices seem to be alcohol and cigarettes.

Dangers

There has been a lot of hype as of late regarding what is referred to as "Amotivational Syndrome" - defined loosely as the tendency of stoners to become lazy and disinterested in activities that do not involve marijuana. This mild form of depression can occur, but usually it is seen in individuals who would be prone to this behavior anyway. This brings up all sorts of chicken-versus-egg issues that cannot really be resolved except when filtered through opinion.

It is impossible to overdose on THC, unless one counts the small possibility for panic attacks or heart failure in individuals with pre-existing conditions (like paranoia or heart disease) who use large quantities of the drug on a specific occasion. This is because THC never actually reaches the medulla (the part of the brain in control of basic survival functions).

When mixed with alcohol, marijuana can lead to several problematic consequences. While some users combine these two substances with no problems whatsoever, others (especially inexperienced users) can run into trouble. For example, marijuana's tendency to reduce nausea and suppress the gag reflex can make it difficult for an individual with a toxic BAC to vomit, thus increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning. On the other hand, it is also possible for a user to get a severe case of "the spins" due to the compounded dizzying effects of both alcohol and marijuana; this often results in severe nausea and vomiting but is not life-threatening unless the individual aspirates.

Risk management (best advice to user)

Do not drive. Marijuana use impairs reaction time.

One can reduce lung damage and the inhalation of carcinogens by using a filtered smoking device such as a waterpipe.

Last Updated: 1/21/09