Marijuana or cannabis is a combination of the stem, flower buds, shredded leaves and sometimes the stalk of Cannabis Sativa or marijuana plant. It can be eaten, brewed, smoked, taken topically or vaporized. But the most common way to ingest it is by smoking it. The most active component or chemical present in hemp is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol.
According to studies conducted by various groups, the average tetrahydrocannabinol content found in marijuana or cannabis has soared through the years, from 1% in 1972, 3% to 4% in the 90s, to 13% in 2010. As of today, some strains have 30% tetrahydrocannabinol content or more. The dramatic increase in potency makes it very difficult to determine the short and long-term effects of cannabis in our body.
How marijuana is consumed
In a study conducted by NSDUH or the National Survey on Drug Use & Health in 2010, at least 17 million people in the United States are using cannabis a few months before the day the survey was conducted. Since then, a lot of states have legalized the use of marijuana, whether it is for medical or recreational purposes. As early as 2017, 26 states, including the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana use in one form or another.
In a survey conducted in 2016, one in every eight American smoke cannabis and half of the United States adult population admitted that they had used it at some point in their lives. The most common way to ingest marijuana, according to NIDA or the National Institute on Drug Abuse is by smoking it. Marijuana stalk, leaves, stem or flower buds are usually rolled in a paper to form a joint or blunt.
By smoking the cannabis, it releases the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which is then absorbed by our body via the bloodstream through the lungs, Bubblers, bongs, glass pipes, joints and blunts are some of the ways you can smoke marijuana. It can be ingested in the food, usually by people using it for medical purposes; Aside from the famous “space cake” or pot brownies, edible cannabis can also be added to different foods like candies, butter, milk or ice cream.
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There are places in the United States that already legalized the use of cannabis and issued a rule for labelling and packaging marijuana edibles. It can also be ingested in liquid form. You can brew or boil it to make a tea or you can add it to other beverages like mild, soda or alcohol. Another form is a resin type product called hashish. It is made from a concentrated cannabis plant material and is more potent compared to shredded leaves or flower buds. Other forms include oral sprays, topical oil and capsules.
Another relatively new method is inhaling vaporized marijuana. It is a smokeless delivery system that uses devices like vape or electronic cigarettes. By heating the hemp oil at a lower temperature, it will release a vapor that you can inhale. Some studies suggest vaping or vaporizing hemp is a healthier option compared to smoking pot. The user can inhale less toxic compounds as well as carbon monoxide when they vape marijuana compared to lighting a joint or using a bong.
How cannabis affects the brain
Marijuana reaches the pleasure centers in our brain the same way heroin, alcohol or cocaine reaches it. Depending on how much the user ingests, the quality of the strain or the method of ingestion, marijuana can produce a strong feeling of euphoria or high, by stimulating our brain cells to release dopamine, the happy hormone. When smoked or inhaled, the sense of happiness is immediate.
When it is ingested in food, it will take minutes or hours before the drug reaches the pleasure centers of our brain and signal it to release dopamine. Other mood changes can occur like relaxation and sleepiness, which is usually the effect that is reported. Some users experienced a heightened sensory perception, colors appear more vivid and noise seems louder.
For some people, cannabis can cause an altered perception of space and time, as well as increased appetite also know as much. The effect can differ with every person, how often they used, the strength of the strain they ingested, and how often it has been since the last time they gotten high.
In some cases, anxiety, short-term memory recall problems, tachycardia, sedation, pain-relief and relaxation are just some of the reported side effects of tetrahydrocannabinol in our body. Other effects, according to the National Institute of Health include paranoia or the feeling of fear and panic, hallucinations, problems concentrating, decrease in the ability to perform any tasks that require coordination and reduce interest in finishing any tasks.
When a user comes down from the high, they may feel exhausted and a little depressed. While cannabis use can produce a mellow experience for some people, it can also heighten anxiety, agitation, irritability and insomnia according to medical experts. If you are an employee and your company subjects you to a drug screening, learn to beat a hair drug test and other forms of screening to make sure that you avoid these kinds of symptoms and prevent detection.
How cannabis affects our body?
Cannabis smoke, just like any other smoke, can cause a lot of respiratory issues experienced by cigarette smokers like cough with phlegm production, frequent acute chest problems or illness like bronchitis and lung infections. While it is thought that there is a connection between increased risk of getting lung cancer and hemp smoking, records show that even heavy smokers appear to be on a lesser risk of getting lung cancer.
While it is widely speculated that hemp is not addictive, more or less 30% if users have use disorder of some sort. Long-term users who tried to quit experiences irritability, cravings, decrease appetite, sleeplessness, as well as anxiety and depression. Most of these symptoms can be found in alcohol, heroin and cocaine or meth withdrawal.
In a study conducted in 2016 suggests that some people may have a genetic susceptibility to cannabis addiction. The same survey shows an overlap between the genetic risk factors in cannabis addiction and the genetic risk factors for people with depression. It means that marijuana use can also trigger depression in some people.