|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Marijuana legalization Substance abuse|
Even though marijuana legalization efforts have reinforced the belief that the drug is harmless, research has documented the grave risk posed by the increased use of marijuana. The drug is highly addictive, has damaging effects on the brain, poses the risk for testicular cancer and respiratory diseases, and is linked to adverse social outcomes and psychiatric illnesses. Evidence demonstrates that particle legalization of marijuana has increased the rate of inadvertent exposure to drug among adolescents, and it may it increase the rate of use. Therefore, the article support laws that continue to limit access to and availability of marijuana except in cases of scientific studies aimed at demonstrating the medicinal benefit. Such studies should be within the evidence-based guidelines for effective routes of dosing and delivery for given medical conditions.
The federal law classifies marijuana as a banned substance. Following the discovery of the possible medicinal properties and the growing misperception that marijuana is harmless, there have increased legalization efforts despite the persistent abuse problems. The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has prompted a number of states to set up programs for distribution of medically-prescribed marijuana. With public perception of the safety of marijuana growing, has states have also approved the use of the deadly substance by adults for recreational purposes. The outcome has been the same, which is that the partial ban has contributed to the increased exposure of marijuana to the adolescents.
Marijuana is highly addictive in nature. Whereas around nine percent of the users, in general, become addicts, about twenty-five percent of daily users and seventeen percent of those who start indulging during adolescence become addicts. Therefore, most of the high seniors with a history of using marijuana on a daily basis end up as addicts. In addition, about seventy percent of adolescents enrolling in drug treatment program are marijuana addicts. Extended use of marijuana is associated with an array of withdrawal symptoms, such as sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety, decreased appetite, and craving, which can hamper cessation. These contraindications can manifest twenty-four hours after cessation, and behavioral interventions, such as motivational incentives and behavioral therapy are effective treatment approaches to the said addiction. Despite the lack of medication presently to treat marijuana addiction, recent advances in pharmacology on the interactions of endocannabinoid system is promising in the discovery of effective interventions to prevent intoxicating effects, ease withdrawal and block relapse.
An additional threat associated with the use of marijuana is the progressive pattern of engaging in the abuse of other banned or dangerous drugs. Marijuana is typically the bridge between alcohol and cigarette use, as well as the stepping stone to other more dangerous and potent substances, such as heroin and cocaine. The progression and stage-like development of substance abuse is referred to as gateway phenomenon and is common among adolescents and teenagers from all racial and social-economic backgrounds. Additionally, the drug is commonly used intentionally with other substances, such as crack cocaine and alcohol, to amplify potency. Formaldehyde, phencyclidine, cough syrup, and crack cocaine are blended with marijuana without the knowledge of the user.
The most active and addictive element in cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. When the drug is inhaled, the chemical rapidly enters the bloodstream via the lungs and conveyed to the brain. Its absorption rate is relatively lower when ingested in drinks or food, although delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol acts in particular molecular targets referred to as cannabinoid receptors located in the brain cells. Ordinarily, these receptors are activated by endocannabinoids, which are chemicals with a structure similar to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Endocannabinoids occur naturally in the body and form the neural communication network, which assumes a critical role in normal brain function and development. The concentration of cannabinoid receptors is higher in areas of the brain that regulate thinking, pleasure, memory sensory, time perception, and concentration, as well as coordinated movement. Marijuana results in over-activation of the endocannabinoid system, bringing about highness and other associated effects experienced by the users. These effects comprise psychotic symptoms, distorted perception, difficulty in problem-solving and thinking, disrupted memory and learning, and impaired attention span, reaction time, balance, judgment, and coordination. Persistent exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol can increase the rate of age-related degradation of nerve cells.
Various mechanisms have been hypothesized to link the use of cannabis with attention deficit, neural desynchronization and psychotic symptoms. A component of the limbic system of the brain, the hippocampus is critical for learning, memory, and integration of sensory experiences with motivations and emotions. Within the hippocampus, the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol suppresses neurons necessary in information processing and hence learned behaviors tend to deteriorate. Studies associate young recreational users of marijuana with structural abnormalities in the shape, density, and volume of grey matter in sections of the brain linked with drug dependence and craving. Additionally, they depict a significant measure of the abnormality related to the increased drug use. Furthermore, the analysis of the entire grey matter density, in addition to parts of the amygdala and nucleus accumbens, shows reducing density among marijuana users.
Myriad studies have similarly revealed that the dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex is associated with abnormalities in decision making and cannabis use can have an adverse impact on the region. Brain imaging has been used in a couple of studies to map sections of the working memory within the brain and findings were similar for schizophrenic and normal subjects with no history of marijuana use. However, the size of the working memory was found to decrease in size in areas of thalamus and striatum for those with a history of use of marijuana. The reduction was more pronounced among subjects who began using marijuana at an early age and schizophrenics. It is an indication that marijuana use is linked to the deterioration and degradation of the working memory, which is critical in controlling vital body function.
Similarly, it has negative effects on the hippocampus, causing the deterioration of learned behaviors. Research, consistent with the impact of marijuana on the brain, demonstrates that the drug has the potential to worsen existing problems or cause difficulties in the daily life of users. Heavy use of marijuana is associated with reduced physical and mental health, low life satisfaction, less career, and academic success and more relationship problems. Marijuana use is similarly linked to high rates of school dropouts, workplace absenteeism and tiredness, more workplace accidents and increased compensation claims, and high job turnover.During pregnancy, the risk of marijuana use is unrecognized, but the incidence of neurobehavioral problems is relatively higher among children and infants with a history of prenatal exposure. The active chemicals in marijuana mimic endocannabinoids, and hence exposure to the drug can result in the alteration of the development of the endocannabinoid system during fetal development, which bring about attention deficit, poor memory and difficult in problem-solving. The link between prenatal exposure to marijuana and impairment of the executive functioning skills is well-established. Particularly, children with histories of prenatal exposure are associated with attention deficits, increased impulsivity, and problem-solving difficulties.
Marijuana use is detrimental and hence need for extreme caution in its continued use for medicinal purposes. The drug is associated with deleterious effects on brain development, social functioning, and cognition among adolescents, and can have both long-term and immediate implications, such as increased risk to accidents, academic failure, sexual victimization, and decline in intelligence measures, occupational and psychosocial impairment and psychopathology. The potency of cannabis has been on the rise over the decades with concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol increasing from four to fourteen percent between 1980 and 2012. It implies that new users are being exposed to relatively higher concentrations with high potential of adverse and unpredictable reactions.
The rise in potency can account for the greater risk of accidents and addiction. Therefore, an initiative to increase awareness of the harmful effects of marijuana should be sustained. The government ought to improve access to evidence-based interventions as opposed to focus on incarceration for the adolescent with a history of marijuana use. There is the need for careful monitoring of the impacts of cannabis-related policy changes on the mental health of adolescents and children. Parents should take a front role in fighting the use and subsequently possible legalization of marijuana because of the potential detrimental effect on their children. Evidence-based medicine should be the core in treating cases of addition rather than the traditional correctional measures, such as incarceration and extended jail terms.
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