Marijuana is Not Harmless

by on August 23rd, 2010
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Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. It is also considered to be a “gateway drug,” meaning that many times someone who starts off with marijuana will then go on to explore and experiment with other drugs. Although regular users and activists who fight for legalization of the drug will argue that marijuana has no negative effects, they are mistaken.

It is thought that long-term abuse of marijuana can lead to addiction.It has also recently been discovered that marijuana causes disruptions in concentration and memory similar to those found in schizophrenics (See and search the word marijuana for several interesting articles). There is also a disputed claim that marijuana may actually increase the risk for developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as major depression.

The effects of marijuana are immediate and may last for one to three hours.The risk for heart attack within the first hour of smoking marijuana is estimated to be four times greater than your normal risk factor. This is because marijuana causes the heart rate to increase 20-50 beats per minute, while at the same time lowering your blood pressure rate. This risk can be even higher if marijuana is combined with another/other drug(s).

Short term effects of marijuana include distorted perceptions of sights, sounds, touch, and time. Problems with memory and loss of coordination may also occur. Some may also experience feelings of anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic.

Marijuana lowers the ability of the immune system to fight disease, and prevents disease fighting action of key immune cells. There is an increased risk of developing bacterial infections and tumors. Smoking marijuana can cause burning and stinging in the mouth or throat and cause heavy coughing. Smoking marijuana may produce the same side effects as with those who smoke tobacco. These symptoms include an increase in coughing and phlegm production, obstructed airways, and an increase in the likelihood of developing chest illnesses and lung infections.

Marijuana smoke contains more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco as most tend to inhale more deeply and hold the smoke longer when using marijuana. Long-term male marijuana users may be at an alarmingly 70 percent higher risk for developing testicular cancer. One study shows that marijuana users have a 3 times higher risk of developing cancers of the neck and head than non users. Marijuana smoke also contains three times more tar and 50% more carcinogens than tobacco smoke. Smoking marijuana while pregnant is a really bad idea in general, and has been shown to cause problems with the neurological development of the developing baby (See

In some rare cases marijuana may be prescribed for medicinal purposes, mainly for use in patients with chronic illnesses. In these cases, it is controlled use under the advice of a physician.

Many marijuana smokers have glassy, bloodshot eyes, and get “the munchies” after they smoke. Look for these clues if you suspect someone is using. The next time you ask someone if they smoke and they say “just marijuana”, or you ask if they use drugs and the reply is “just marijuana”, you may want to advise them that there is no “just” marijuana. They are using an illegal drug that can be dangerous.

Many users argue that it’s harmless because it’s a “natural” plant. Well, so is hemlock, and if you ingest that you die. I have seen too many people over the years fall victim to the “just marijuana” idea and then end up in serious trouble later with alcohol, drugs, a prison record, or even causing a fatal car accident while under the influence. And it all starts out so innocently…or does it? My point is, marijuana is NOT innocent and can lead to worse things, so learn the facts and realize marijuana can be dangerous.

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