Short-term and Long-term Effects of Cannabis

 By: James Foster
Cannabis, also known as Marijuana is one of the commonly abused illicit drugs in USA. It consists of the dried leaves of the hemp plant. It is generally smoked or chewed for the euphoric effects. Now-a-days, many people are getting addicted to Cannabis. According to 2008 report by NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health), 15.2 million people were using Cannabis in USA. It translates into 6.1% of the total population aged 12 years and above.

There are many adverse effects of Cannabis on health. It is important to create awareness among the people who are getting addicted to Cannabis without proper knowledge of its harmful effects. It has several short-term and long-term effects.

Short-term effects:
There are many short-term effects which can result because of Cannabis usage. They are:

Somatic effects
Cannabis has many affects on physical health. The use of Cannabis has many short-term effects including increased heart rate and decreased blood pressure, dry mouth, bloodshot eyes, increase in intra-ocular pressure (increase of pressure in the eyes), wet or cold hands and feet, muscle relaxation etc.

Psychoactive effects
Cannabis affects the mind, mood and other mental processes. The psychoactive effects of Cannabis can vary from one individual to the other. The main psychoactive effects of Cannabis are euphoria, increased creativity, sensation, perceptions and libido, short-term memory loss, anxiety, agitation, paranoia, nostalgia, trouble in learning and thinking, loss of co-ordination etc.

Neurological effects
Cannabis has many harmful affects on nervous system. Cannabis affects Cannabinoid receptors in the brain which are associated with reflexes, motor skills and attention. Cannabinoids inhibit the release of neurotransmitters in the hippocampus like acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and glutamate. This results in decrease in neuronal activity in that region. This ultimately blocks process associated with memory formation. Cannabis intake results in short-term memory loss and other mental disorders.

Long-term effects:
Cannabis causes many health hazards which people suffer for lifetime. The long term affects of Cannabis abuse are:

Heart attack
Cannabis increases the heart rate by 50 percent depending on the THC level. There might be chest pain after the intake of Cannabis, because of poor blood supply to the heart due to decrease in blood pressure. This might result in heart attack. There are reports of death in few cases due to the intake of Cannabis for the first time.

Effects on lungs
Cannabis smoke contains large amount of carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Cannabis users hold the smoke in their lungs for longer time which irritates the lungs. The carcinogenic hydrocarbons present in Cannabis increase the risk of cancer. Cannabis causes cough, acute chest illnesses, lung infections, emphysema, obstructed airways, cancer etc.

Effects on brain
Cannabis has harmful effects on brain. Cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which influence thoughts, concentration, memory, pleasure, sensors, coordinated movement, time perception which are altered by Cannabis abuse. People using Cannabis may suffer from short-term memory loss, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and depression.

Causes cancer
It is said that Marijuana smokers are three times more likely to develop head, neck or lung cancer than non-smokers as the Marijuana smoke contains 50 percent more Carcinogens than the tobacco smoke. So, the risk of lung cancer is more among the Marijuana smokers.

Many people are getting addicted to Cannabis without enough awareness of harmful effects Cannabis abuse. It is important to create awareness among the people who ruin their lives and careers because of Cannabis usage. It is better to stay away from unhealthy usage of drugs such as Cannabis which has many adverse effects on health.
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