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Marijuana legalization – things to know

The speed at which marijuana is gaining a legal status in various states can easily confuse a person. If marijuana is being legalized then is it all right to use it? And if it is a drug, then why is it decriminalized? How can a government legalize something that is known as a gateway drug and leads to dependence that has several short- and long-term effects? If it has medical benefits, then how does a person decide if they can use it or not?

How does marijuana affect an adolescent brain?

Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana binds itself to receptor sites in the hippocampus of the brain. The hippocampus interprets new experiences and decides what gets stored in the long-term memory. It sends signals to the frontal cortex. When one uses marijuana, their cognitive functions get impaired for 72 hours.

The frontal cortex keeps developing till around 25 years of age. Consuming marijuana before the age of 25 results in permanent development problems like reduced intelligence, problems in long-term memory, decreased ability to regulate emotions, ineffective ability to take decisions, and the tendency to develop psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. The propensity to develop psychotic disorders increases significantly when the user is below 15 years of age and has a family history of psychosis or schizophrenia.

What happens with prolonged use of marijuana?

When there is an increased availability of THC in the body, the brain reduces the production of anandamide and increases the production of amide hydrolase (FAAH), a fatty acid. This reduces the body’s ability to calm itself naturally. Which means that when a person is not smoking marijuana, they feel agitated and crave the nerve-calming experience that the drug offers. This eventually leads to increased use of marijuana.

Short- and long-term effects of marijuana use

The short-term effects of marijuana use include impaired memory consolidation and recall ability, anxiety, panic and paranoia attacks, reduced reaction and judgement time and impaired motor coordination ability, increased heart rate and sexual dysfunction.

Long-term effects of marijuana use include reduced dopamine production, increased risk of heart problems, and raised production of phlegm and mucus.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug

Marijuana is the most common illicit drug misused and abused by teenagers and adults across the nation. And marijuana legalization has removed the stigma associated with marijuana use, determined a study published in JAMA in 2016. There is a growing belief among the young people that marijuana is a safe drug because it is derived from a plant. As per the 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, though substance use among teenagers has been on a consistent decline, marijuana use has been relatively stable. As per the survey, the daily use of marijuana was reported to be 0.7 percent among 8th graders, 2.5 percent among 10th graders and 6 percent among 12th graders. In case of marijuana use during a lifetime, 12.8 percent 8th graders used marijuana compared to 29.7 percent 10th graders and 44.5 percent 12th graders. The survey saw 45,473 students from 372 public and private schools.

Seeking help for marijuana use

Irrespective of the fact that marijuana is legal or illegal, it is the duty of parents and loved ones to make teenagers aware of the harmful effects of the drug. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that effective measures are in place to restrict its access and use among young people. The stats also needs to ensure that there is adequate access to marijuana addiction treatment.

Addiction is s scrounge, be it to alcohol or a drug, like marijuana. If you or a loved one is addicted to marijuana or any other drug, it is time to seek help. Get in touch with the Florida Drug Addiction Helpline to know about various drug rehabilitation centers in Florida. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-982-2401 or chat online with our experts to know about drug rehabs in Florida.