The Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana has become one of the most widely used drugs in the United States. Marijuana has many different effects which result from using the drug. Effect means how a person reacts to the drug. Marijuana is a mild hallucinogenic drug which is used for individual pleasure or medical treatment. The effects can be physical, psychological, or medicinal.

Many physical effects result from smoking marijuana. The most common effects from the use of marijuana are an accelerated heart rate and a reddening of the eyes. The effect on the eyes has been attributed to a “swelling of the minor conjunctival blood vessels in the eye” (Abel 153). The increase in pulse rate has been shown to be dose dependent. According to Abel, “The more THC given to the subject, the greater the pulse rate” (153).Evidence has proven that marijuana not only increases heart rate but also temporarily weakens heart muscle contractions. The drug also impairs a persons judgment and coordination. Therefore, it is very dangerous to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. Some long term effects of marijuana are coughing and chest pains. Sometimes these respiratory problems develop into bronchitis. Among males, prolonged use of marijuana reduces the production of sperm and of the male sex hormone testosterone. Among females, it may cause menstrual irregularity and reduced fertility. There are also many psychological effects associated with marijuana.

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The psychological reaction consists of alterations in the users feelings and thoughts. These changes are caused by THC, a chemical found in marijuana. In most cases, “It consists of a dreamy, relaxed state in which people seem more aware of their senses” (DuPont 161). For many marijuana users, a feeling of pleasant euphoria and well-being is established. It is very common for the drug to produce time distortion in the user. The user usually feels like hours have passed when, in actuality, only a few minutes have passed. Sometimes, however, marijuana produces a feeling of panic or dread. Highly potent marijuana can lead to “intense emotional reactions, substantial distortions in perception, a panic that one has lost control of oneself, and vivid hallucinations” (Sullivan 343). Marijuana has many medicinal effects as well.
Marijuana has an ancient history of medicinal use in many countries. A report by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare states that, “In patients suffering from glaucoma, marijuana serves to reduce intraocular pressure” (25). Marijuana has many positive effects if used by cancer patients after chemotherapy. The THC in marijuana reduces nausea, vomiting and increases appetite. A third area in which marijuana has shown promise in treatment is in the management of asthmatics. “Synthetic THC produces a desirable temporary increase in the size of the air conducting passage” (United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare 25).
Marijuana has many physical, psychological, and medicinal effects which may be short term or long term, positive or negative. Physical effects include an increased heart rate, a reddening of the eyes, coordination impairment, and respiratory problems. Most physical effects which result from the use of marijuana are negative. Psychological effects include relaxation, time distortion, the establishment of a euphoria, panic, and dread. These effects can be positive or negative. The medicinal effects reduce pressure in the eye for glaucoma patients, increase appetite, and reduce nausea and vomiting in cancer patients, and opens the airway for asthmatics. The medicinal effects are usually positive.
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