Marijuana or pot is one of the most commonly abused illegal drugs in the country. About one in 300 people are addicted to this drug. Marijuana is actually a mix of shredded leaves, seeds, flowers, and stems of the plant Cannabis sativa. It is also available in a concentrated form called hashish. Over the years, the number of people becoming addicted to this drug has increased considerably, particularly among teenagers. Often used for smoking, it can also be eaten along with food or brewed with tea. The drug takes a longer time for action when ingested, but the effects persist for a longer duration.
Marijuana contains an active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is easily absorbed into the body. It is this chemical that initiates the effects of pot as soon as one smokes it. Some of the initial effects of smoking marijuana include:
- Increase in blood pressure
- Rapid rate of breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Reddishness of eyes
- Increased hunger
- Delay in responses and reaction
These are the short-term effects which usually wear off within a few hours of smoking pot. But the drug may remain in the system for a longer period, resulting in many more effects.
Marijuana is also known to cause a number of psychological responses including mood variations. This may be a feeling of ‘high’ or euphoria, soothing calmness or even calmness. But those who are regular users of pot may also have:
- Random thinking
- Loss of memory
- Behavioral disturbances
- Distorted perception of time
- Difficulty in doing complicated tasks
All the above-mentioned effects are short-lived and persist only for few hours. There are few psychological effects which may remain for a longer duration, even after the initial ‘high’ wears off. Impairment of sleep, memory, and learning skills are some of the long-term or persistent effects of this drug abuse.
Use and abuse of this drug are linked to a number of risks over several years. Excessive use of pot is associated with lung cancer, low testosterone levels and sperm count in men, and infertility. This drug is addictive and even those who use it once in a while may show withdrawal symptoms. The typical withdrawal symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite
The duration for which the drug persists in the system depends on the frequency of smoking. For occasional users the drug may be in the system only for a few days. For heavy users of pot, the drug and effects may remain in the system for months.