What is Pot?
Pot, or marijuana, is a combination of dried and shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers that come from the plant Cannabis Sativa – also more commonly known as hemp. There are many names for pot and you’ll see some of those later. THC (delta-9tetrahydrocannabinol) is the active chemical that causes marijuana to be mind altering, but there are more than 400 active chemicals altogether. The potency of the THC in pot determines the strength and the effect that it will have on the user. Various factors will affect the potency of the THC. Some of those factors include the weather, the soil, the type of plant, and when it is harvested.
One of the most attractive features of pot is that it is relatively inexpensive compared to other drugs. Anyone with $5 can get a hold of some. The other thing that makes it attractive to teenagers is that it is easier to get than anything else. You don’t have to buy it from a store so there are no age restrictions and you don’t have to go down to the seedy area of town to find a dealer. Dealers are everywhere you turn, including on the school grounds!
What are the Effects of Pot?
Pot affects everyone differently. While one person may get sleepy and very calm the next person might get very hyper and happy. One of the influences of how pot may affect a user is heredity. Studies with identical twins have shown that they are more likely than non-identical twins to have similar results when smoking pot. Twin studies are used to determine whether or not there is a genetic factor influencing the results and in this case it suggest that this may be the case. Studies are still ongoing though and are not empirical at this point.
Other factors that may influence how the user is affected by smoking pot include environmental factors. Things like the family environment, social contacts, and the influence of friends can alter how a user experiences using marijuana.
Typical Side Effects
Physical side effects:
• Decreased coordination
• Increased heart rate
• Dry mouth
• Increased food consumption (“the munchies”
Behavioral Side Effects
• Minimized libido
• Poor sense of time
• Addictive behaviors
• Decreased motivation
Many first time users of marijuana feel nothing at all. This has to do with the users’ expectations. Because most first time users are fairly moderate in their intake they may just feel a simple sense of well-being. In this relaxed state they may experience enhanced fantasies. If this is a first time users’ experience it is quite likely that they will try it again and that they will try it at a higher dosage as they assume that more means better. This is not always the case.
Increased dosages often experience more disturbing reactions like paranoia and hallucinations. Perceptions may become distorted and users may become highly suggestible to more dangerous activities than they would normally consider.
Long term use of pot affects a user’s learning ability and not just while they are using – it affects them for years to come and it may affect them their entire life. The most noticeable affect is short term memory. Regular pot smokers may find themselves unable to remember lectures they attended in the past few days, what they did while they were high, and other things that have happened recently. They may find that they are less able to absorb and retain information. Their organizational skills or recent information may suffer and they are likely to have a more difficult time paying attention or focusing on in-depth material. While studies are still being done and are inconclusive at the time, when animal studies have been done there has been evidence of long-term structural damage to parts of the brain that are essential to learning and memory. These long-term effects have been shown to be irreversible.
Pot smokers suffer many of the same side effects as tobacco smokers (so the myth that smoking pot is less harmful than smoking pot is untrue!). One joint has the same amount of caner causing chemicals as five cigarettes. As a result, pot smokers are likely to experience more chest colds than the average non-pot smoker and have an increased likelihood of developing bronchial asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. Other evidence suggests that pot smokers have a lower immune system and are less able to fight against disease in general and infections.
Young men who regularly smoke pot may also suffer from lower sperm counts. In young women smoking pot on a regular basis may decrease the regularity of ovulation and menstruation. Children that have been exposed to marijuana may suffer from developmental delays. Smoking pot while pregnant carries the same risks as smoking tobacco while pregnant – lower birth weights and more health problems.