Weed goes by many names, such as cannabis, which is the scientific name, marijuana, ganja, pot, grass and hemp. It was well established in many cultures for both ritual and recreational use. Weed as been labeled an illegal drug for over a century. In fact, Greece and Turkey made its use illegal from as far back as 1890.
Today, its psychoactive properties make it popular with people from many walks of life, from college students to musicians. It has been well documented however that using marijuana can have an adverse effect on the health. In fact this goes beyond the most obvious risk of lung cancer from inhalation of the smoke. The reverse however is the many studies and reports of its medicinal properties including pain relief associated with many serious illnesses.
The effects of this drug or medicine depending on which side of the fence you stand are highly debated. Because of the highly controversial nature of the discussions it is important to show views from both sides.
Positive Effects of Smoking Weed
There is little doubt that weed has medicinal value. In Jamaica, the highly effective glaucoma drug, Canasol is derived from weed. In many countries medicinal marijuana has been approved for use for various ailments for pain control. It is also used in killing brain tumor cells helping to make surgery and treatment more effective and improving the prognosis for patients.
Impact on Brain Activity
There is research which shows that ganja positively impacts alpha wave activity in the brain which is responsible in part for a relaxed state. Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London in the UK have also found that the same chemicals in cannabis that alter mood can also be used to control seizures and pain.
In Cancer Care
Some studies have proven that ganja helps to alleviate or lessen nausea for persons with cancer and in those having chemotherapy.
Negative Effects of Smoking Weed
For those persons on the other end of the spectrum, smoking weed has numerous unhealthy side effects. The main ones cited are:
Weeds Effect On The Mental State
This is the main reason why most people use weed. The ‘high’ can incorporate many feelings and sensations. Marijuana has been shown to have not only a mind altering effect, but also to change ones mood. The experience of some users has even bordered on the spiritual. There is concern in many circles that in this state, weed smokers can be a danger to themselves and to others and should seek marijuana rehab.
Hormonal Effects of Smoking Weed
While this is still being hotly debated, most studies suggest a link between long term use and the body’s production of certain hormones. According to the Brown University website, excessive weed use can lead to erectile problems and lower sperm count. Women’s monthly cycles can also be affected by marijuana use. It should be noted that marijuana use has not been shown to cause complete infertility.
Effect on Short Term Memory
Both those for and against the use of the weed agree that excessive use can affect short term memory.
Impact on fetuses
There have been a few studies which suggest that smoking weed during pregnancy can affect the neurological development of children.
One thing is certain, the debate as to the effect of weed will continue for a very long time. Like anything else that can be abused, marijuana use can be good or bad, it all depends on the purposes for which it is used. There is no denying the great potential that this embattled drug has for treating various ailments. Sadly, the level of research needed to fully expose the benefits of the “holy herb” is not where it should be. This is possibly a result of researchers not wanting to get caught up in the debate about the risks associated with its use.
February 22nd, 2009
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