It can be affirmed that is smoking Marijuana bad for you, due to the negative effects it produces: cognitive deficits, sleep disturbances, cardiovascular problems, endocrine problems, respiratory difficulties and gastrointestinal problems.
Marijuana is one of the drugs that create the most controversy in a great diversity of societies. Despite being considered an illegal drug, there are those who defend its use and claim that consuming this substance is not harmful to health.
In fact, this drug generates a greater discrepancy of opinions than other legal substances, such as tobacco.
Is Smoking Marijuana Bad for You
Therefore, both smokers and non-smokers of tobacco agree that the consumption of this substance has a series of negative effects on health.
However, this situation is less clearly seen in the case of marijuana, since there are many consumers who are strongly convinced that this substance is not harmful.
This discrepancy of opinions rests mainly on the therapeutic or beneficial effects that marijuana can provide.
How should one analyze if smoking marijuana is bad?
People tend to make value judgments based on the stimuli and the elements that we perceive from abroad.
In this way, the word drug is usually associated in a more or less direct way with dangerous, unhealthy and harmful attributes and characteristics.
Likewise, before the term “illegal drug” these attributes are intensified, a fact that translates into a lower social acceptance towards marijuana than toward legal drugs.
In fact, if we go down the street and observe a person smoking tobacco or a group of friends having a few beers in a bar, we will rarely associate it with negative attributes.
However, if we observe a group of individuals consuming marijuana we probably adopt an attitude of lesser acceptance.
Thus, in the first place we must bear in mind that although marijuana is an illegal drug in Spain, it is not in other countries, such as the Netherlands.
Secondly, it must also be borne in mind that legal drugs can also be very harmful to health and the consumption of tobacco or alcohol can have highly negative consequences.
So, to be able to answer the question of whether smoking is bad or not, we must go a little further and analyze what the evidence backed by science on the effects and consequences of the consumption of this drug.
As we will see throughout the article, from the scientific point of view, to say that smoking marijuana is not bad is a difficult claim to sustain but that requires a series of specifications.
Cannabis is a natural substance
This is probably one of the main factors that can defend the benevolence of marijuana and defend its consumption.
If marijuana is a substance obtained through natural processes it does not have to be harmful to the body.
Before we start to examine if marijuana is really as natural as it seems, it must be emphasized that the “natural” label does not have to be automatically associated with beneficial attributes.
It is true that the human organism may be more predisposed to consume natural elements than substances synthesized or elaborated through chemical processes.
However, there are natural substances that can also be highly toxic to people.
In addition, analyzing the naturalness of marijuana is one of the main elements that allows us to answer about its beneficial effects and its harmful effects.
Marijuana comes from cannabis sativa, a dioxide plant found in nature.
The highest concentrations of THC (the active principle of cannabis) is found mainly in flowering buds and leaves, which is why the parts of the plant that are consumed are these two.
Cannabis is a manipulated substance
With this section we do not want to deny the previous one, cannabis is a natural substance but it is also a manipulated substance.
First of all it should be noted that the consumed elements of the cannabis sativa plant are flowered buds, since these contain a greater concentration of psychoactive substances.
In this way, cannabis seeds do not have THC, so they are not consumed in recreational areas since they do not produce any kind of psychoactive effect.
In addition, the plants of hemp that are used to cultivate for the obtaining of fiber also do not have psychoactive capacity, since its concentration of THC is smaller to 1%.
In contrast, the variety of the plant used for recreational purposes has a THC concentration of between 2 and 5%.
Thus, we quickly observe a slight manipulation of the “natural” plant, since that which is cultivated for textile purposes is remarkably different from that cultivated for recreational purposes.
On the other hand, the concentrations of psychoactive substances, that is, HCT, can vary enormously among the different types of plants.
The cultivation of cannabis for recreational use has involved obtaining genetic improvements that have managed to obtain plants with a THC concentration of up to 20%.
Importance of THC
In cannabis can detect multiple substances, in fact, have identified more than 400 different.
However, there are two that stand out for their presence since they are found in much larger quantities than the rest.
These are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabinol (CBD), two cannabinoid substances that predominate the confection of recreational marijuana.
One of them (the THC) has already been commented when we analyzed the main differences of the different types of cannabis sativa plants.
As we have said before, THC is the main psychoactive substance in cannabis and, therefore, the one that implies the greatest number of negative effects.
Thus, the confection of plants that contribute a greater quantity of this substance in their buds and leaves increases the psychoactive capacity of the drug and its harmful effects.
Difference between THC and CBD
The two main substances of marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have different characteristics.
While the former is associated with the main hallucinogenic effects of the drug, the alteration of perceptual processes, the decrease in attention and memory, and addiction, CBD is related to the effects of relaxation, sedation, drowsiness and the decrease in pain.
Therefore, we must take into account the composition of marijuana when determining the damage it can cause.
Although all cannabis plants grown for recreational use contain both substances, the proportion may vary widely.
We can find plants with high concentrations of THC and others with a greater presence of CBD, that is, marijuana with greater detrimental effects and marijuana with greater therapeutic effects.
However, within the submerged market that governs the use of marijuana in many countries, the production of plants with high concentrations of THC is increasingly prevalent.
This substance is the one that produces greater hallucinogenic effects (those that the recreational consumer usually looks for) and it has a clear addictive component that increases of notorious form the consumption of marijuana.
Harmful effects of marijuana
Regardless of the opinions and personal attitudes that one may have about marijuana, a series of harmful effects of this drug have been described.
These effects have been studied and demonstrated scientifically and, although they are not present in all cases, they are clinically related to the use of marijuana. The main ones are:
- Psychological effects
The use of cannabis can produce substance dependence as well as withdrawal syndrome characterized by anger, aggression, irritability, nervousness, insomnia and depressed mood.
In addition, prolonged consumption of this substance can lead to complications such as anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorders , a motivational syndrome and psychosis.
In fact, it has been scientifically proven that the high consumption of cannabis for years irreversibly produces a clear cognitive deterioration and exposure of the brain to very high amounts of THC causes the appearance of psychosis.
- Cognitive effects
Acute cannabis use alters cognitive ability and functions such as attention, memory, perception or problem solving may be affected.
These effects are similar to those that can cause chronic alcohol consumption and are characterized mainly slow down in the speed of reaction, alteration of short-term memory, concentration difficulties and impaired attention.
- Effects on psychomotor performance
Marijuana produces a series of alterations in psychomotor performance, worsens reaction time, decreases attentional capacity and can cause motor incoordination.
- Effects on driving vehicles
One of the main risks caused by cannabis use is the effect it has on people and the inability they cause to drive vehicles.
These effects stop being negative if the consumer does not drive when he is under the effects of the drug, however, the traffic accidents caused by the effects of marijuana are numerous.
- Effects on sleep
THC induces sleep quite directly, in addition, the continued use of cannabis can cause alterations in the sleep-wake pause and can cause a rebound effect in the amount of REM sleep after the sudden interruption of high consumption.
- Effects on appetite
Cannabis produces a clear increase in appetite between 1 and 3 hours after consumption. However, with the continued use of the drug there is a decrease in this effect.
- Cardiovascular effects
Marijuana produces an increase in heart rate, so the continued use of the drug may increase cardiovascular risk in people with previous heart disease.
- Respiratory effects
Smoking can cause bronchial irritation and bronchoconstriction and can alter respiratory function, promote bronchitis and increase the risk of developing cancer.
- Gastrointestinal effects
Cannabis produces a reduction in the production of saliva, dry mouth, reduction of intestinal peristalsis and slowing of gastric emptying.
- Endocrine effects
Marijuana has complex effects on fertility and sexual function. It seems to affect the amount and mobility of sperm, and alter the levels of gonadotropins and testosterone.
It should be noted that these negative effects of cannabis do not appear in all consumers or each time the substance is ingested.
However, especially in people who consume this drug from an early age and with a pattern of continued and abusive use, marijuana makes a high risk factor for all the complications we have just discussed.
The controversy over the “harmfulness” of marijuana appears mainly because, despite being able to produce negative effects like the ones we have just seen, it can also produce beneficial effects. The main ones are:
- Psychological effects
The consumption of cannabis provides feelings of well-being, tranquility and relaxation.
- Analgesic effects
Marijuana has a clear analgesic, sedative and anxiolytic component, a factor that promotes its medicinal use.
- Eye effects
It has been demonstrated how the local or systemic administration of marijuana produces a clear reduction in intraocular pressure.
- Muscle effects
Marijuana produces muscle relaxation and also has anticonvulsant properties.
5, Neurological effects
In a California study it was shown that medical marijuana was an effective treatment to reduce the symptoms of migraines.
After reviewing the characteristics and effects of marijuana use, we can not say that smoking this drug is not bad for people’s health.
Consuming cannabis involves a series of risks and if it is used in a continuous and above all abusive way, it can generate highly negative consequences.
On the other hand, as we have seen, positive effects on marijuana have also been described, a fact that has motivated several professionals to use this substance for medicinal purposes.
However, an abusive use of marijuana will never be medicinal or beneficial for health and may be a risk factor for all the changes discussed.