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Essay about The Dangers of Marijuana

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Marijuana, Cannabis Sativa, has been used for centuries for its medicinal and euphorant properties, and its fibers, to make hemp cloth and paper. Medicinally, between 1850 and 1942, it was prescribed in the United States Pharmacopeia as a remedy for a variety of ailments including gout, tetanus, depression, and cramps (Farthing 1992). Today, it is used for reducing intraocular pressure due to glaucoma, as an antiemetic to relieve nausea associated with chemotherapy, and as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients. Recreationally, it is the most widely used illicit drug, especially among adolescents.

The main psychoactive component of marijuana is (9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Other prominent cannabinoids include cannabidiol, cannabinol, and (9-tetrahydrocannabinic acid. Together, these compounds contribute to various behavioral and cognitive changes, which can slightly differ based on the route of preparation and administration (Farthing 1992). THC is found in the sticky resin of the cannabis plant, with the highest concentration in the flowering tops (buds) of the female plant. Marijuana is a preparation of the leaves, stems, and buds, while hash is a concentration of the resin. Smoking and oral ingestion are the most common ways of administration and can produce slightly distinct effects due to the different filtering methods of the digestive tract and lungs.

The subjective experience of marijuana can include prolongation of the passing of time, altered awareness of self and the environment, and occasional paranoia or increased anxiety. At high enough doses, hallucinations can also be experienced (Farthing 1992). While intoxicated, a large range of acute cognitive effects has been found, including difficulty in motor c...


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...Pharmacological Therapy 36: 234-238 (1984). (As cited by Chan et al. 1998)

Drew W.G. et al. Effects of Hippocampal Brain Damage on Auditory and Visual Recent Memory: Comparison with Marijuana-Intoxicated Subjects. Biological Psychiatry 15 (6): 1980.

Farthing, G.W. The Psychology of Consciousness. Prentice Hall (1992).

Gazzaniga, M.S., Ivry R.B., & Mangun, G.R. Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind. W. W. Norton & Company (1998).

Herkenhaum, M. et al. Cannabinoid receptor localization in brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 87: 1932-1936 (1990).

Kandel, E.R. & Schwartz, J.L. Priciples of Neuroscience. Elsevier (1985). (As cited by Amen & Waugh 1998)

Murray, J.B. Marijuana's Effects on Human Cognitive Functions, Psychomotor Functions, and Personality. The Journal of General Psychology 113(1): 23-55 (1985).


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