As more states are legalizing the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana, there are a lot of misperceptions and misinformation floating around. The problem is that the U.S Food and Drug administration has not recognized or approved marijuana or CBD. Due to the lack of research and official regulation, the distribution, packaging and consumption of marijuana remains as opaque and nontransparent as smoke. This scarcity of clarity is particularly risky for our youth who are exposed to all types of messaging.
What is marijuana?
“Marijuana, also called weed, pot, dope or cannabis, is the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It contains mind-altering (e.g., psychoactive) compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as well as other active compounds like cannabidiol, or CBD, that are not mind-altering.” (CDC)
How is marijuana used?
Typically marijuana is smoked. It can be rolled and smoked like a cigarette (a joint) or a cigar (a blunt). It can also be smoked in a pipe. There are glass ‘water pipes’ made specifically for this purpose. Sometimes people cook it into the food or infuse it as tea, which has a slower, more intense effect. Smoking oils, concentrates and extracts are on the rise and can be used in the electronic vape pens with little to no smell. Typically marijuana today has a higher THC concentration than weed in past decades due to genetic modifying.
Is marijuana medicinal?
The plant has chemicals that may help symptoms for some health problems. Two medicines have been made as pills from a psychoactive chemical in weed. These treat nausea for cancer patients and increases appetite for AIDS patients. Scientists are studying CBD -which doesn’t make you high, but acts on a different part of the nervous system that is thought to help children who have seizures. CBD is marketed to create a sense of peace and wellbeing in users. It is thought to help with pain in the nerves. There are many forms including CBD-infused coffee, edibles, lotions, etc. Be careful where you are getting your information or products. Again, it has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Is marijuana addictive?
“Yes, about 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For people who begin using younger than 18, that number rises to 1 in 6.” (CDC) Some signs that someone might be addicted include: trying but failing to quit, giving up important activities in favor of using, and using even when it is known to cause problems at school, work, or home. They will need to smoke more to achieve the same high.
What are the risks of marijuana?
Smoke from marijuana contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Smoked marijuana can harm lung tissues. Marijuana also makes the heart beat faster and could lead to increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Marijuana directly effects brain—specifically the parts responsible for memory, attention, learning, decision making, emotions and reaction time. Prolonged use will experience lasting effects, change in mood, appetite, etc.
And of course marijuana is not legal in the state of Georgia.
Marijuana and the Developing Brain
Youth are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects. When marijuana use begins early, the drug may reduce attention, retention, memory and learning functions. Because youth’s brains are still developing, the drug will affect how the brain builds connections between these parts of the brain. This means that someone may not do as well in school and may have trouble remembering things and finding motivation. Youth’s brain will continue to develop until they are around 25 years old. Some youth who use tell us they use for their anxiety. The problem is that this becomes their one and only coping skill and they do not move forward in forming other, healthier ways of coping with stress.