>Does Weed Make You Live Longer?
marijuana facts

Does Weed Make You Live Longer?

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world with an estimated 125 million people consuming it in some form or the other every year. In India, marijuana use has been historically bound by faith and mysticism. It is said to be a drug that helps the user attain “ecstasy in the original sense of the word”. India has consumed and celebrated charas (hash), bhang and weed for centuries.

 

  • Marijuana

The definitions of what is classified as Marijuana, cannabis or hemp are quite clear at least according to the codes of the United States. Under U.S. law, cannabis is the plant itself, and hemp and marijuana are specific parts of the plant. Hemp refers to the sterilized seeds, stems, stalks and roots. Marijuana is in reference to the viable seeds, leaves and flowers.

While this is the easiest way to explain it, research has shown that the differentiation between hemp and marijuana goes much deeper, and their traditional names are not necessarily indicative of the true genetic makeup of these plants.

Through trait-mapping and genotyping, researchers have found the differences extend far beyond the genes involved in the production of THC.

Unfortunately, marijuana has come to be the all-in-one term for the cannabis plant and all of its useful parts.

When one refers to marijuana or any of its other common names or derivatives (Mary Jane, pot, hash, hashish, whacky-tobacky, etc.) they are referring to the leaves and flowering portions of the plant that contain many cannabinoids, which have both mental and physical effects on the human body when ingested.

Marijuana with these effects is produced on cannabis plants with greater than 0.3 per cent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the principal psychoactive portion of the plant. Some strains can go up to as much as 20 per cent. Concentrations of THC are largely dependent on how it is ingested as well. The average for marijuana is 1-5 per cent, 5-10 per cent for hashish and 20% of hashish oil

  • Hemp

The recreational use of the cannabis plant to produce a “high” has overshadowed the myriad of industries that hemp is viable for, and this is precisely how and why the plant has and continues to receive such bad press. Hemp comes from cannabis plants with less than 0.3 per cent THC.

The petrochemical and textile industries realized they had a lot to lose monetarily if hemp came into widespread production, and thus the corporate elite set into motion a literal smokescreen of lies to bulldoze the public opinion into outlawing this productive plant in its entirety by including it in the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act in 1932.

What is (Tetrahydrocannabinol) THC?

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. It acts much like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in certain areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. THC attaches to these receptors and activates them and affects a person’s memory, pleasure, movements, thinking, concentration, coordination, and sensory and time perception, according to NIDA.

THC is one of many compounds found in the resin secreted by glands of the marijuana plant. More of these glands are found around the reproductive organs of the plant than on any other area of the plant. Other compounds unique to marijuana, called cannabinoids, are present in this resin. One cannabinoid, CBD is non-psychoactive, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and actually blocks the high associated with THC.

What are the Effects on the body?

Tetrahydrocannabinol stimulates cells in the brain to release dopamine, creating euphoria, according to NIDA. It also interferes with how information is processed in the hippocampus, which is part of the brain responsible for forming new memories.

“In some cases, reported side effects of THC to include elation, anxiety, tachycardia, short-term memory recall issues, sedation, relaxation, pain relief and many more,” said A.J. Fabrizio, a marijuana chemistry expert at Terra Tech Corp, a California agricultural company focused on local farming and medical cannabis. However, he said, a study in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that other types of cannabinoids, as well as terpenes (compounds that produce flavour and fragrance in plants), can modulate and reduce negative effects.

THC can induce hallucinations, change thinking and cause delusions. On average, the effects last about two hours and kick in 10 to 30 minutes after ingestion. Psychomotor impairment may continue after the perceived high has stopped, however.

What are the Risks?

The effects of marijuana make it a popular drug. In fact, it is considered one of the most commonly used illicit drugs in the world. But these effects also concern mental health advocates. Tetrahydrocannabinol can trigger a relapse in schizophrenic symptoms, according to NIDA.

Another possible risk of consuming Tetrahydrocannabinol comes in the form of impaired motor skills. Marijuana may impair driving or similar tasks for approximately three hours after consumption and it is the second-most common psychoactive substance found in drivers, after alcohol, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. People taking medical marijuana are instructed not to drive until it has been established that they can tolerate it and conduct motor tasks successfully.

A study by the University of Montreal published in the journal Development and Psychopathology in 2016 found that early use of marijuana can affect teens. Smokers that start around age 14 do worse on some cognitive tests than non-smokers. The study on almost 300 students found that pot smokers also have a higher school dropout rate. Those that waited to start around age 17 did not seem to have the same impairments. 

NIDA reports that rats exposed to Tetrahydrocannabinol before birth, soon after birth or during adolescence have shown problems with specific learning and memory tasks later in life.

The drug can also have drug interactions with certain medications.

What are the Medicinal uses?

According to the National Cancer Institute, marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes for more than 3,000 years. As of early 2017, more than half of the United States has legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. Several states have also legalized the drug for recreational use, as well.

  • THC can be extracted from marijuana, or synthesized, as is the case for the FDA-approved drug dronabinol. Dronabinol is used to treat or prevent nausea and vomiting associated with cancer medicines and to increase the appetites of people with AIDS, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It is light yellow resinous oil.
  • Other studies are showing more evidence that, when used properly, Tetrahydrocannabinol has many additional medical benefits. For example, Tetrahydrocannabinol may be able to improve memory when taken in small doses, according to a 2016 study on mice.

 What are the results of Overdose?

Edibles, foods containing Tetrahydrocannabinol, have become a large problem in states that have legalized pot because of overdosing.

Edibles can lead to overdose sometimes because people often ingest a full serving of a cookie instead of a diagnosed smaller amount.

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