Exploring Marijuana: From History to Effects and Legal Implications
Exploring the Complex History of Marijuana
Marijuana has a long history of use; it has many different ways to help medically; it alters the chemistry of the brain, causes a high; it is used recreationally in many different ways, and finally, it can cause many problems for underage users. Although marijuana is allowed in multiple states, not all states allow it to be used. This can cause legal problems for people who use it in states that don’t allow it.
The Medical Potential of Marijuana
Marijuana use has been dated back to 2,737 BCE. Back then, it was said to be used as a painkiller. Then, in 2000-1400 BCE, it was used in religious exercises. After that, in c. 500 BCE, a funeral urn in Germany had cannabis seeds inside of it. Then, in 1307 CE, in The Book Of Marco Polo in the Middle East, hashish was used in religious sects. After that, in England, King Henry VIII told his subjects to grow hemp to make rope and canvases. Then, in 1611, Cannabis was cultivated in Virginia. Then, in 1776, the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed on paper made from hemp. After that, a little more recently, in 1900, cannabis extracts were found in a bunch of over-the-counter medicines, painkillers, and cough suppressants. Then, in 1936, the film Reefer Madness was released, which showed kids doing violent acts under the influence.
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Shortly after, in 1937, the marijuana tax act ended the legal production of hemp. Then, in “1985, chemists create dronabinol, a synthetic version of the most powerful chemical in marijuana. Pill forms of dronabinol are sold as Marinol.” (Bigelow). Now, more recently, multiple laws have been passed regarding marijuana and how it can be handled. The history of marijuana has had many different uses and was perceived in many different ways. It was looked at religiously. It was also looked at as a drug that made people act in super crazy ways like violence and criminal things.
Navigating the Complex Effects of Marijuana
Since marijuana has been around for so long, it has been used a lot medically, but there are effects from using it that can both be good and bad. A good effect is one like a cancer patient who is going through chemo and sometimes suffers from nausea or loss of appetite. Marijuana, though, often stimulates appetite. This makes the patients not lose as much weight and stay more safe from secondary illnesses. Another way marijuana with positive effects is used is with people who often have seizures. CBD is a chemical found in marijuana that helps in the brain and makes it less prone to a seizure. There are also CBD oils that are allowed in pretty much every state. It doesn’t have the same effects as THC in the sense of psychoactive effects, but it does help with things like anxiety and sometimes body pains like backaches or headaches.
A negative effect that can come from marijuana is lung cancer. Marijuana contains some of the same chemicals as tobacco products, like tar, benzanthracene, and benzpyrene. These chemicals have been linked to lung cancer in people who smoke regularly. Another negative effect on the body is people who begin smoking marijuana between the ages of ten and fourteen run a high risk of developing a mental disorder. One more effect that can be negative is the slight withdrawals one can get if one smokes regularly and tries to quit. The withdrawals could be insomnia, anxiety, decreased appetite, and irritability. Another possible negative effect is secondhand smoke.” Little is known about the effects of secondhand smoke.” It is proven that people around other people who smoke marijuana can have small amounts of THC in their blood. This means tar and other toxic chemicals could be, too.
Recreational Usage and Brain Chemistry Alteration
Marijuana is used for many reasons, but usually, it is for recreational use. People use it recreationally because of the high it gives them. Marijuana, when used recreationally, is consumed in various ways. Sometimes, people will eat them as edibles, which usually takes longer to get the effects. Then, the other way is through the smoke. The main ways they are smoked are through joints, which are tobacco leaves that wrap the marijuana, pipes, which are like tobacco pipes just used for weed, and bongs, which use water to make the smoke smoother than the other ways. “People have described the high as a pleasant euphoria and sense of relaxation. Sometimes people say they experience heightened sensory perception, laughter, altered perception of time, and increased appetite.”
All of these effects are why people use marijuana. Using marijuana for recreational use can be bad, though, as well. Sometimes people experience “bad highs,” which can include anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic. This normally happens with people who take too much, or it’s at a higher potency. People have also experienced acute psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity. This sometimes makes people act out in certain ways and even sometimes makes people stay away from the drug.
Legal Landscape and Underage Users
The way marijuana works is by altering the chemistry in the brain. “THC’s chemical structure is similar to the brain’s structure. The similarity in the structures allows the body to recognize THC and to alter normal brain communication.” (Volkow). This produces a euphoric and relaxed feeling. There are also different strains of marijuana. There are Sativa and Indica, which would make the user feel differently depending on the one they choose to use. Indica is a more relaxing type of feeling. Sativa is more of an uplifting cerebral feeling. “THC is able to attach to molecules called cannabinoid receptors on neurons in these brain areas and activate them, disrupting various mental and physical functions and causing the effects.”
THC is also able to alter the functioning of the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex, brain areas that enable a person to form new memories and shift his or her attentional focus. This interferes with someone’s ability to learn and do more complicated tasks. THC also activates the brain’s reward system, which includes regions that govern the response to healthy, pleasurable behaviors like eating. When using marijuana too much, the body will start to build up a tolerance to the drug. This means you must use more of it in order to get the effects you got when you first started using it.
Since marijuana is a drug, it has many different laws in different states. In most states, it is completely illegal to use marijuana. In some states, it’s pretty much completely legal to use. Then, in some, it’s only medically available. In the states that allow it recreationally, they still have some strict laws. One is the amount you are allowed to have on you. It’s also looked at like alcohol in some ways, such as when driving. When you are driving and under the influence of marijuana, you can be arrested for a DUI. The first states to allow marijuana recreationally were Washington and Colorado.
Right now, thirty states allow medical marijuana for things like extreme anxiety, nausea, and many other things. Oklahoma has just recently passed a law that allows marijuana medically. “Students caught with marijuana lose any federal financial aid they might be receiving for college.” The first law over marijuana was the Marijuana Tax Act. “The act imposed an excise tax on the sale, possession or transfer of all hemp products, effectively criminalizing all but industrial uses of the plant.” (History.com). Just one day after the act was signed, an older farmer was caught selling marijuana and arrested on the spot because of the new act.
Marijuana can have negative effects on users who are underage and smoke it. Since marijuana affects short-term memory and the process in which the brain learns, it shows a decline in school grades from young users. (Bigelow). One study showed a clear link between adolescence and increased risk for an aggressive form of testicular cancer that usually attacks young adult males. Marijuana has also been linked to things like mental disorders in users who smoke it underage.
So, in conclusion, marijuana has a long history of use, good and bad; it is used medically for some things, it is also used recreationally, and it works by altering the chemistry of the brain. Although the drug seems to have been around for a super long time, there is still a lot to learn about the drug. The long-term effects of using it a lot are still quite unknown and can be dangerous.
- “The History of Marijuana.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 5 Dec. 2019, https://www.history.com/topics/crime/history-of-marijuana.
- Bigelow, Bruce. “Marijuana: Facts for Teens.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dec. 2019, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens.
- Volkow, Nora D. “The Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 24 June 2015, https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2015/06/biology-potential-therapeutic-effects-cannabidiol.
- “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation.” Drug Policy Alliance, https://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/marijuana-legalization-and-regulation.