It amuses me, given my expertise on some topics (like end times Bible prophecy) – than some articles I submit (on which I’m an expert) don’t even seem to merit an email telling me they’re not interested in my article – but on a popular topic like marijuana (never had it, never will) I get published easily, and of all places, at PRAVDA (The name you should recognize from when it was the official newspaper of Soviet propaganda) wanted it first.
As most of you already know, marijuana is a recreational drug made from parts of the cannabis plant – usually the hemp plant known as Cannabis sativa – which contains the mind-altering chemical THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.) Some of the most common nicknames include pot, weed, and many others. Many people have a positive view of marijuana, considering it in some ways safer than nicotine or alcohol, as using it does not lead to liver or lung disease – and it is clearly safer and less addictive than hard drugs like heroin and cocaine.
But this positive bias may be based on old information. According to a report by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the potency of THC has been soaring in recent years: “Between 1993 and 2008, the average concentration of THC in confiscated marijuana jumped from 3.4 to 8.8 percent.” With the rise in THC levels comes a rise in side effects and addiction – both hospital and rehab admission rates for teenagers abusing marijuana increased a whopping 188 percent between 1992 and 2006. More problems from marijuana use affect the ebb and flow of American public opinion.
The United States has in some ways had a backwards view of marijuana for almost a century – viewing it as inherently bad, when some newer findings overseas are showing enough positive benefits that serious marijuana research has started up again in America. But the basic findings, after (largely foreign) research and testing many people (and multiple generations of rats) are that marijuana has its pros and cons, and affects some people differently than others.
Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam discovered THC in 1964 and carried out some of the first studies on how marijuana affects brain cells and structure. More recent research shows that some people experience therapeutic relief from epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and chronic pain when they ingest THC. It may also help with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) because THC puts the amygdala – the part of the brain that filters out and represses unpleasant memories – into overdrive. Marijuana can function as a key mechanism in “memory extinction.”
It obviously makes most people who smoke or otherwise ingest it to absorb its active chemical, THC – feel really good. Remember all that bad, stressful stuff that was bothering you? Not anymore. This is because brain cells communicate with chemical messengers called neurotransmitters which send instructions to the body on what to feel and what to do. Some of these chemicals include dopamine, seratonin, glutamate, and another category called endocannabinoids – which activate certain receptors in the brain. One plant on this planet makes a similar chemical – the cannabis plant marijuana is made from – and its THC replaces and interferes with some of our natural chemicals in the body. As neuroscientist Giovanni Marsicano of the University of Bordeaux jokingly said: “We don’t have a receptor in the body just to smoke marijuana.”
But THC’s overwhelming interference can feel really good as it affects feelings of hunger and pleasure – which is why people get the “munchies” and feel really relaxed when they get high on that least dangerous of drugs with many affectionate and harmless-sounding nicknames like Mary Jane.
How safe is it?
But is marijuana really the safest of the illegal (in some places, for now anyway) drugs? Not for everyone.
Many people merely experience hunger, a sense of well-being and open-mindedness, a distorted sense of the passage of time, a distorted sense of vision (especially color), difficulty concentrating, thinking, remembering, problem-solving, and normal motor coordination (moving around) – along with temporary hallucinations and a minor sense of paranoia. No worse than getting drunk, right?
It turns out that it wasn’t just conservative propaganda that THC can make people go crazy and send them into a crime spree. While it does not have that impact on the overwhelming majority of users, a small percentage of the population is genetically predisposed to having a kind of psychotic or schizophrenic allergic over-reaction. Dr. Darold Treffert, who first noted this in the 1970s, says: “Some persons can safely use marijuana, but schizophrenics cannot.” And some people who don’t know they are predisposed to the later onset of schizophrenia might be activated into it by using marijuana. Marijuana can speed up the emergence of schizophrenia.
THC also has a much greater impact on teenagers’ brains than on older people. Harvard Medical School researcher Jodi Gilman warns: “It has a whole host of effects on learning and cognition that other drugs don’t have… [and] it looks like the earlier you start, the bigger the effects.”
Even the teenage brain is still developing and growing up to about age 21. Prior to that, connections grow and are strengthened between neurons, like the brain is having a structural reinforcement to prepare for the decision-making of adulthood. THC causes several problems in the brain, from affecting higher brain functions (like the ability to think out mathematical solutions or logical problem solving or restraining acting on one’s impulses) and while this generally passes when an adult is no longer high on THC, younger brains that are still making connections and developing responses are permanently altered by the chemical. Some doctors have made a comparison to removing RAM memory chips from a computer and expecting it to function the same as it had before….
Full article HERE
and especially the article “The Great Pot Experiment” in Time Magazine (May 25, 2015) by Bruce Barcott (author of “Weed the People”) and Michael Scherer.