In the year 2014, a 31-year-old mother of three was found lying dead on her bed. The victim, Gemma Moss, from Dorset was depressed after a bad breakup and had formed a habit of smoking marijuana to help her sleep. The autopsy reports came as a surprise to everyone. The coroner who conducted her autopsy revealed that cannabis toxicity was the cause of death and that there was moderate to high levels of cannabis chemicals in her blood. The news shocked the pants off many proponents of cannabis, who have constantly harped about the health benefits and safety of the drug.
Pot, weed, spliff, dope, gaanja, whatever you call it, no other drug has enjoyed the love and adoration of the world more than cannabis has. Some argue that unlike the more habit-forming drugs like cocaine, heroin and crystal meth, marijuana is not habit forming. Largely, the perception is that marijuana safe to use since it is used medically in many countries where it is legalised.
Legalising the psychoactive drug has long been an important part of liberal political agenda and has polarised many debates. Countries like Canada have legalised it, but you could be hanged for carrying marijuana in countries like Singapore and China.
It is known for its mind-altering qualities which cause a temporary "high" by changing perception and causing a surge of euphoria. But for some cannabis users, the experience can also turn frightening when paranoia and anxiety get elevated. While there are some health benefits, pro-cannabis activists conveniently forget the health risks associated with smoking marijuana. So if you can't do without your blunt, you can stop reading now. For everybody else, here are seven side effects of cannabis you should know of before you take another toke.
It IS addictive!
Next time someone says marijuana is not addictive, tell them this: There is enough scientific evidence to support the fact that long-term marijuana use WILL lead to addiction.1 Marijuana use in teenagers is particularly dangerous because it affects their brain, which is still undergoing active development during their adolescent years. Youngsters who start experimenting with marijuana are two to four times more likely to develop addiction in the first two years than those who start in their adulthood.2
It affects your brain development
Your brain is constantly evolving and developing through the prenatal period till you reach the age of 21. During this period, your brain is particularly more vulnerable than at any other period of your life. So smoking marijuana at a young age, like early teenage exposes the developing brain to tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary ingredient in marijuana. This affects nerve development and neural activity in the brain.3 This can interfere with your day-to-day functions, leaving you more vulnerable to impulsive activity. Inability to control your impulses can be potentially life threatening.4 Imagine not being able to restrain yourself from jumping off the building.
It lowers your IQ and makes you dumber
Peer pressure can be a difficult thing to resist. But here is a good reason why you shouldn't succumb to it when someone hands you a spliff. Frequent smoking of cannabis from your adolescent years to young adulthood can cause a significant reduction of your IQ.5 Stay smart and say no!
It can increase risk of mental disorders
Far from giving you mental peace as some pot lovers may claim, regular use of marijuana can increase the risk of anxiety and depression in people, although it hasn't been established how it happens.6 If that isn't enough, smoking weed is also linked to worsening of psychoses in people who have a genetic tendency for mental illnesses.7 Marijuana use can also worsen symptoms of schizophrenia in patients. It also advances the time of the psychotic episode in people with mental problems by two to six years.8
It affects your memory
Many justify their marijuana addiction by claiming it keeps them sharp and creative. On the contrary, constant week smoking can impair your learning ability and make it difficult for you to retain information.9
It increases the chances of vehicular accidents
Alcohol intoxication is not the only cause for accidents. Truth is, smoking marijuana can equally endanger your life if you take the wheels after a bong hit. Increased concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol in the blood adversely affects your driving ability, causing weed smokers to lose control of the vehicle and fatally endanger their lives.10
It increases lung cancer risks
Again, tobacco is not the only culprit causing lung cancer. Marijuana shares some carcinogens with tobacco like including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzo[a]pyrene and phenols.11 Smoking weed using different techniques causes three-times more retention of tar and five times more retention of carbon monoxide in your lungs as compared to tobacco smoking! That means, there marijuana can be more dangerous than tobacco when it comes to cancer risk.12
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