Weed or marijuana, which are the more common names for the greenish-gray mixture of the dried buds of the Cannabis sativa, can be consumed in many forms. Some people smoke it or mix it into foods. Weed can also come in stronger concentrated formed resin or oil.
The main mind-altering chemical in weed, which how a person gets “high”, is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This chemical in marijuana is only found in the buds of the female cannabis plant.
What are the Effects of Smoking Weed?
When a person smokes weed, the effect is almost immediate. A euphoric and relaxing effect is what most people feel. Other common effects, which differ from person to person, include a heightened sense of perception, laughter and increased appetite.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIH) reports:
Pleasant experiences with marijuana are by no means universal. Instead of relaxation and euphoria, some people experience anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic. These effects are more common when a person takes too much, the marijuana has an unexpectedly high potency, or the person is inexperienced. People who have taken large doses of marijuana may experience an acute psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity. These unpleasant but temporary reactions are distinct from longer-lasting psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, that may be associated with the use of marijuana in vulnerable individuals.
Marijuana Stays in Your Body
The chemical THC can be detected in the body from days to even weeks, whereas the physical effects from smoking, luckily, are not permanent, they only last 1 to 3 hours and those who consumed weed from food and drink may last for many hours.
Many ask if weed is dangerous? Well given the fact that if smoked, just like cigarettes, smoke is inhaled through the lungs, the health effects of smoking cannabis are the same being that cannabis smoke exposure is associated with negative cardiovascular effects and lung function abnormalities. And because the smoke produced by combustion will always contain toxins and carcinogens, yes, smoking weed is dangerous and will have negative health outcomes.
Is Weed a Gateway Drug?
Now if one chooses alternative methods of consumption, such as ingestion or vaporization, it is considered to minimize negative health outcomes. Which then comes to a second part of the question: Is weed dangerous in it being a gateway drug?
There are many types of research that show using weed is followed by using other substances later in life. In fact according to the NIH:
Early exposure to cannabinoids in adolescent rodents decreases the reactivity of brain dopamine reward centers later in adulthood. To the extent that these findings generalize to humans, this could help explain the increased vulnerability for addiction to other substances of misuse later in life that most epidemiological studies have reported for people who begin marijuana use early in life. It is also consistent with animal experiments showing THC’s ability to “prime” the brain for enhanced responses to other drugs. For example, rats previously administered THC show heightened behavioral response not only when further exposed to THC but also when exposed to other drugs such as morphine—a phenomenon called cross-sensitization.
This is where we get that saying “marijuana is a gateway drug”, But studies show that this cross-sensitization, is not just unique to weed. People can also be primed to use other substances from alcohol and nicotine. It is also to look at a person’s social environment, which is important in someone’s chance of drug use. Also, a factor is if substances such as weed, alcohol or nicotine are readily available and the way they interact with others.
So is smoking weed dangerous? Yes, if we are talking about the physical effects of the body. Is it dangerous in the fact that it is “a gateway drug”? There is no definite answer and there needs to be more research done because it really depends on the individual’s situation on whether it leads to harder drugs.
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