Very few people are shocked by marijuana any more. For many, it’s seen as a rite of passage for teenagers, and for others, it’s an enjoyable pastime. Countless people smoke it, and there is little research that states that it is actually bad for you, and government studies have repeatedly stated it should be legalized. So what’s the fuss about?
It goes without saying that smoking anything can lead to issues. So let’s get that out of the way first. Inhaling tar and so on leads to an increased risk of cancer, heart attack, and respiratory problems. Oh, and it’s also technically illegal in many states. Job done.
Now that the very brief lecture is over, let’s take a look at the effects of marijuana.
First, it’s a depressant. It works on the central nervous system and slows down your motor and cerebral responses. It’s a bit like alcohol. Unlike alcohol, however, it doesn’t increase the amount of testosterone in your body, so you tend to mellow out. It just so happens that the increased amount of testosterone seen with alcohol affects women more than men, as it’s the result of the breakdown of estrogen. Hence the catfights seen in bars. Marijuana has a much better reputation, as Thomas Jefferson noted:
” Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.”
So, it makes you chill. It makes you relaxed, and it doesn’t seem nearly as dangerous as alcohol. So it must be addictive, right?
Well, it is addictive to a certain extent. People used to make the distinction between a chemical dependency (e.g., opiates) and a psychological addiction (e.g., it’s a habit and a crutch), but they realized that both types of addiction were caused by the same conditions in the brain. At the end of the day, the brain just sees it as an addiction, so the different labels were deemed unhelpful and were merged into one category: addiction.
Marijuana withdrawal can happen. It usually involves being jittery for a few days and perhaps having headaches and a couple of other minor issues. You might cough up a bit of crap over the next week.
However, for some, cannabis (the proper name for marijuana) was used to suppress emotional or psychological issues. These tend to be the heavier users, who use it daily. Depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and antisocial personality disorder are all disorders that can co-occur with marijuana addiction.