Marijuana: Compare and Contrast Essay

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Marijuana is one of the most common drugs used on a day-to-day basis in our society. Marijuana is cannabis, it is also often known as weed, herb, pot, grass, and ganja. It is no secret that our society is loving this drug, in fact, people are not ashamed of it. It is now regularly referenced in rap songs, clothing items, and photographs, as it is seen everywhere peer pressure seems to be affecting all ages. People have very good reasons to either hate marijuana or love it. Although there are many benefits from marijuana, the negatives outweigh the positives.

One of the positives for pot is that it is broadcasted as a weapon for stress and anxiety. It is well known that weed has the possibility to give a calming effect for those with lots of anxiety or stress, others use it as an escape or a sense of relaxation. It is mainly used by 15-40 year olds. Whether it is work or school, so many people use weed as a way to take a minute to relax and forget what is around them. Marijuana has short-term benefits, for those who use cannabis as an escape, only have reduced stress for a few minutes to a day until they use the substance again. Basically, either the substance needs to be constantly used or the benefits are temporary, just like taking a prescription. With no long-term effects, the only effects that occur are negatives. Relying on marijuana can be very bad for mental health because it gives people the thought that without weed they will not feel relief. Luckily, there are alternative relaxation methods without using weed like reading a book, yoga, exercise, or cooking. Anything that is a hobby can be very great for the mind when trying to quit a substance.

It is possible to get addicted to anything that gives us pleasure, but luckily it is very unlikely to overdose from Marijuana. It is a controlled substance. Statistics say that only 9 percent of people out of 10 who use cannabis on a day-to-day basis become dependent on it, unlike many other drugs like tobacco users who are 32 percent addicted, 20 percent of cocaine users addicted, and 15 percent of alcohol drinkers. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, weed addiction goes up to about 17 percent in people who start using marijuana at a younger age like in their teens, and to 25 to 50 percent among daily users. Although it is unlikely to get addicted to pot, there is a possibility and it is not one to risk because of all the lifetime side effects that go along with it.

Marijuana makes it harder for students to focus on school. Scientists have discovered that using cannabis causes people to have problems with memory, learning, and also trouble with thinking. There is an active ingredient inside the pot called delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. This component acts on cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells and influences the activity of those cells. With many cannabinoid receptors found in the parts of the brain that influence things like pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement, it is easy for all of those things to be intermittent. That is why when people are high people tend to forget things quickly, should not drive and some even walk funny.

Marijuana affects the heart, the bones, and the lungs. When smoking grass, the heart starts beating rapidly and blood pressure drops as well. It can cause a heartbeat to increase by 20 to 100 percent and blood pressure slightly reduced, With that being said marijuana users’ risk of having a heart attack is four to five times higher than others within the first hour of smoking. People who smoke large amounts of marijuana on a day-to-day basis have reduced bone density, which can increase the risk of bone fractures. The study at the University of Edinburgh used DEXA-scan x-rays and figured out that heavy users of pot have a lower body weight than the average person and less body mass index also known as BMI, which can contribute to loss of bone density. For some users, marijuana can cause a burning or stinging sensation in the mouth and throat. Although marijuana is not as harmful as tobacco, according to a review published in 2019, scientists have found out that on a day-to-day basis, marijuana smokers can experience similar if not exact respiratory problems as people who smoke cigarettes. Coughing, chest illnesses, and increased risk of lung infections are also factors to consider when smoking.

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Marijuana has benefits and disadvantages when it comes to sports. Many athletes use marijuana for relaxation before or after a competition, it can be good for anxiety or stress. Pot can cause risk-taking behavior, which is why when people are “high,” they let loose. For some, marijuana can actually be very beneficial. But since cannabis in general already increases heart rate, using it while doing a sport can be pushing it. Ganja decreases alertness. Injury can be a lot more common when on the substance because awareness is lower which can result in slow turns, not communicating well with teammates, and not paying attention.

Marijuana is known to make people sleepy. It does not change the quality of sleep but rather helps people sleep faster. Although, when in REM sleep marijuana can be helpful for those who have nightmares such as past experiences or stress about upcoming events. Studies have shown a decrease in both phase III sleep and REM sleep occurs when using marijuana beforehand but there is an increase in deep sleep. Therefore, usually, people who smoke and feel tired after, when they are awake feel tired or drowsy. This can actually backfire on a lot of people and make people tired all the time resulting in missing classes, work, or important events.

Medical Marijuana has always been a major controversy all over the world. It is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, appetite loss, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and eating disorders such as anorexia, epilepsy, glaucoma, schizophrenia, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, nausea, cachexia, and pain. Cannabinoids are the active chemicals in medical marijuana that are fairly similar to chemicals that the body makes up involving appetite, memory, movement, and pain. Research says that cannabinoids have the ability to reduce anxiety, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, control nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy, kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth, relax tight muscles in people with MS, and stimulate and improve weight gain in people with cancer and AIDS. Not every single person is capable of obtaining medical marijuana legally, people must have a written recommendation from a licensed doctor in the state of the patient, where that is legal which requires a condition that qualifies for medical marijuana use. The patient’s state may also require a medical marijuana ID card, once obtained the card they can buy medical marijuana at a store called a dispensary. Take medical marijuana there are many different methods like smoking it, inhaling, eating it, applying it to your skin in a lotion, spray, oil, or cream, or placing a few drops of a liquid under your tongue. Now medical marijuana may sound very beneficial, but there are also many side effects like bloodshot eyes, depression, dizziness, fast heartbeat, and hallucinations. Not every state has legalization for medical marijuana but luckily 33 states and the District of Columbia are capable of using this substance. The states that do not have legalization for medical marijuana are Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Something that has come to recent study is cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome otherwise known as CHS. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is a condition that can lead to repeated amounts of severe bouts of vomiting. It is rare and only occurs in daily long-term users of marijuana. Recently in Canada, this condition has been underdiagnosed. As it is so rare, not many people have even heard of this condition, to get this condition a marijuana smoker has to continually inhale cannabis in their lungs. This can actually be life-threatening. A 17-year-old was admitted to the hospital in April 2018 for this exact condition. He mentioned how he had difficulty speaking, and felt numbness and tingling while his muscles were constrained. He felt very dehydrated and weak, and as time went on they saw spots form on his stomach. He was constantly vomiting even when being hospitalized and properly taken care of. This disease is very severe and life-threatening, I am glad it is now coming to light in the past few years so more people can be aware of it.

Although there are so many benefits to marijuana, anything in our lungs besides oxygen is bad for us. With marijuana leaving bad control and making the body feel weak, the short-term benefits are not enough to make cannabis sound like it is a good thing. A moderate amount of marijuana can be fine if not good for the health but there is an astonishing amount of side effects that can risk permanent damage. The pot should not be bought from anyone unless it is medical marijuana prescribed by a proper doctor, It can be very dangerous buying marijuana from just anyone because not only is it illegal but it can be life-threatening considering people would do anything for money. I hope our generation learns the downside of marijuana before it is too late.

Work Cite

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    4. Shortsleeve, Cassie. “Here's Everything We Know About the Health Effects of Weed.” Men's Health, Men's Health, 11 June 2019, https://www.menshealth.com/health/a25713400/is-smoking-weed-bad-for-you/.
    5. “Articles.” Cedars, https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/c/cannabinoid-hyperemesis-syndrome.html.
    6. What Cannabis Actually Does to Your Brain and Body. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://lifehacker.com/what-marijuana-actually-does-to-your-brain-and-body-1693986467.
    7. Relaxing alternatives to marijuana use. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ask.metafilter.com/138505/Relaxing-alternatives-to-marijuana-use.
    8. Kelly, E. (2019, May 31). Why More Athletes Are Turning to Weed. Retrieved from https://greatist.com/play/marijuana-effects-on-runners#7.
    9. Denny, Regina. “My Experience of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS).” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 19 Sept. 2019, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326357.php#8.
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