I have received from people, and requested to discuss, more than 100 health-related questions, in the last 6 months. I plead with my responders, that in fullness of time, I shall discuss all of them, maybe probably merging related topics, to avoid repetitions. I have, had 4 questions related to marijuana in the last 2 months, a) One wanted to know the health-implications of smoking marijuana for a very long time.
b) Another said he had smoked marijuana for 3 to 5 years before he stopped, and wanted to know if there will be any after affects on his health. c) Another said he only smokes marijuana about 3 to 4 times a year whenever he visits his village during festivities, but does not smoke it in Lagos where he works for security reasons, and wanted to know if it will harm him. d) The last said he occasionally uses marijuana leaves to cook porridge yam, because he was told it leads to long-life, and helps in keeping sickness at bare. I decided to educate us, on what marijuana is, it effects on our body, and the pros and cons of its usage.
What actually is marijuana?
♥ All over the world, “marijuana or marihuana or cannabinoids”, means different things to different people. In Nigeria it has varied names, wee-wee, igbò, kongò, Indian-hemp, wrap, ganja, hashish, etc etc. Marijuana is a Mexican-Spanish word, originally used to refer to a poor-grade of tobacco. Later it came to mean a smoking preparation made from the Indian hemp plant (cannabis-sativa). A tall weedy plant related to the “fig” tree and the hop, cannabis grows freely in many parts of the world. The different grades produce drugs of varying strengths.
♥ Some 300 million people around the world obtain, smoke or use marijuana in one form or another. Marijuana drugs are obtained almost exclusively from the female hemp plants. The male plants produce the fibre of the hemp. When the female plants are ripe, the top leaves, flowers develop a minty, sticky, golden-yellow resin, which eventually blackens. This resin contains the highest concentration of Tetra-Hydro-Cannabinol (THC), the active ingredients of marijuana.
♥ Marijuana is prepared in two alternative ways. The flowers and top leaves of the plant can simply be dried and crushed; or the resin itself – which is the active ingredient – can be extracted. The first form is called simply marijuana (nicknamed “grass”), and has the appearance of a dried crumbled herb. The second form is called hashish or cannabis resin (nicknamed “hash”), and appears as a hard brown lump. A liquid “oil” of the resin is also available.
How is marijuana consumed?.
1) ■ The 2 main forms of marijuana are normally smoked, usually in cigarettes called “joints” or “reefers”. The dried flowers and leaves may be used alone, or mixed with tobacco. If the resin is used, it is heated and crumbled, then the small pieces are mixed with the tobacco as the joint is made. Alternatively, both forms may be smoked in a pipe. A water pipe is popular, as it cools the smoke before it is inhaled.
2) ■ The other mode of consumption is in drinks or food. This can give longer and smoother effects; also more extreme effects, as more of the drug can be taken into the body this way. However, control over dosage is diminished, and nausea may occur.
What are the effects of marijuana in the body?
1) ♥ Marijuana accumulates in the liver, so it is hepato-toxic, meaning it will eventually damage the liver, especially when inhaled. So our youth should take note.
2) ♥ Marijuana increases the heart rate, lowers body temperature, and alters blood sugar level and this could lead to unconsciousness with an overdose.
3) ♥ Marijuana leads to gargantuan appetite stimulation, that one person could consume, food meant for 3 people. So parents, whenever your teenage sons, become insatiable, with excessive food consumption, please quietly investigate what he is smoking.
4) ♥ Co-ordination of movement become impaired. There are feelings of drowsiness and unsteadiness. The eyes may become reddish. In higher doses marijuana can cause hallucinations, or distortion of perception. The effects begin withi 15 minutes after it is inhaled and lasts for 4 to 6 hours. The effects may vary from depression, excitement and talkativeness. Some smokers experience time distortion and errors of distance perception. Surprisingly some smokers of marijuana, may experience no effects at all.
5) ♥ Some marijuana users find it hard to make decisions that require clear thinking. Some users develop psychotic reaction, heading towards schizophrenia, or an emotional disorder called ” acute marijuana panic”
6) ♥ There is some evidence that the active ingredient of marijuana is transmitted by expectant mothers to their unborn children. So pregnant mothers that experiment with pot smoking, please beware, or you damage your children from birth.
7) ♥ Some smokers of marijuana may also become colour-blind. So any youth that cannot identify colours, should be grilled for pot smoking.
Our take this week.
All youth should be discouraged from smoking marijuana, because 95% of those who do, never ended up well in life. Next week we shall discuss the medical uses of marijuana. So stay off pot.
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