In the state of California, marijuana may become legal. The drug is already legal in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC. With the legalization of marijuana, the drug will become more and more accessible. Although there are some pros to making the drug legal, for others (such as teens) it may communicate to them that marijuana is okay and safe.
And it’s easy to believe that weed is safe. Sure, it doesn’t leave you with a hangover. It doesn’t seem to create long-lasting harm, like alcohol or other drugs can. However, regular use of marijuana can in fact be dangerous. Marijuana has been associated with crime, drinking, and addictions to other substances. And, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers marijuana to be a Schedule I drug. Marijuana use can cause adrenal weakness, hypoglycemia, fatigue, lethargy, and loss of motivation in life.
Research has revealed the following about marijuana:
- Regular cannabis users can develop a dependence syndrome, the risks of which are around 1 in 10 of all cannabis users and 1 in 6 among those who start in adolescence.
- Regular cannabis users double their risks of experiencing psychotic symptoms and disorders, especially if they have a personal or family history of psychotic disorders, and if they start using cannabis in their mid-teens.
- Regular cannabis use that begins in adolescence and continues throughout young adulthood appears to produce intellectual impairment, but the mechanism and reversibility of the impairment is unclear.
- Regular cannabis smokers have a higher risk of developing chronic bronchitis.
- Cannabis smoking by middle aged adults probably increases the risk of myocardial infarction.
Another danger to marijuana is that it will mimic a neurotransmitter and in a way “fool” its receptor. Marijuana will lock onto the receptors and activate the nerve cells. Because marijuana is not the neurotransmitter that was intended for that receptor, the neurons end up sending abnormal messages throughout the brain. Of course, this leads to hallucination, abnormal thoughts, and change in perception.
The main ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana comes from the hemp plant which grows wild around the world, and it is often smoked or ingested by eating foods that have marijuana mixed into it. It distributes itself to all organs of the body and is mostly metabolized by the liver. Marijuana stays in the physical system for up to 56 hours.
It’s common for some teens to turn to drugs or drinking to help manage their emotions and stress. For example, if a teen is feeling depressed, psychotic, unstable, or emotionally at a loss, they might turn to weed to feel better. Believe it or not, it’s possible to develop a dependence upon marijuana. To avoid this, teens can instead:
- learn how to manage challenging emotions in healthy ways, such as talking with a therapist, parent, or friend
- learn how to manage stress in healthy ways, such as exercising and using relaxation techniques
For instance, instead of reaching for marijuana or a beer when feeling angry, you might instead take a moment to recognize your anger and not let it get the best of you. If you are emotionally aware, you might call for help instead. Although marijuana can be easy to find and can quickly become a relaxation tool, don’t let yourself fall into it. You may be vulnerable to its dangers, such as those mentioned above.