Call it weed or pot; call it Mary Jane or be it ganja; it does not masquerade marijuana from what it really is: simply dried buds and leaves of the Cannabis plant. So why does it remain as one of the most popular drugs being abused?
Well, it has more than 400 chemicals in it; for one. The main psychoactive component of marijuana is THC, short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannibol, causing euphoric effects that keep abusers coming back for more.
The most common form of intake is inhalation. The lungs will absorb this drug in a matter of mere seconds, passing the alveoli before finally entering the bloodstream. The less popular form of intake is via the oral route. Eating marijuana passes it through your stomach, where blood absorbs it to the liver to deliver it to the rest of the body. This method takes a longer time to take effect with lower THC levels, but once it does the effects last longer.
So, all the THC floating around in your blood… where does it eventually go to? To the brain, of course- where your wildest fantasies are created, hence the whole point of taking marijuana in the first place. In the brain, there are cannabinoid receptors normally activated by a neurotransmitter called anandamide, which is a cannabinoid chemical. THC is – surprise, surprise- also a cannabinoid chemical, therefore can mimic the function of anandamide and rest itself snugly at the cannabinoid receptor.
Neurones are then activated in three parts of the brain; the hippocampus, the cerebellum and the basal ganglia. This affects your recollection of recent events, coordination and unconscious muscle movements respectively.
Most marijuana abusers would report a feeling of incessant happiness; while others would just claim of utter relaxation. Some may develop strange sensations, such as the body being extra light that it was able to drift off like a helium balloon.
To achieve these momentary effects, abusers tend to use marijuana repeatedly. As a result of chronic usage, long-term effects on the brain would be detrimental. These include problems with memory and learning, thinking and problem solving; distorted perception [which explains the helium balloon sensation], loss of coordination as well as anxiety which can lead to severe episodes of panic attacks and paranoia. Besides all these, marijuana abusers suffer the same consequences of chronic smokers however with some detox pills the damage can be prevented, which are bronchitis, emphysema, dry mouth and red eyes.
However, marijuana does have its medicinal value. When used appropriately, marijuana can suppress nausea and stop convulsions by decreasing muscle spasms. For glaucoma patients, marijuana is used to relieve eye pressure. Interestingly enough, marijuana also stimulates appetite because the endocannabinoids that bind to the cannabinoid receptor in the brain as mentioned earlier will activate hunger.
Like all drugs, marijuana can both cure and kill. It all depends on where you draw the line.