Course: ENL 213 (H)
Instructor: Dr. Paul Gehchan
“How many murders, suicides, robberies, criminal assaults, holdups, burglaries and deeds of maniacal insanity it causes each year, especially among the young, can only be conjectured…No one knows, when he places a marijuana cigarette to his lips, whether he will become a joyous reveller in a musical heaven, a mad insensate, a calm philosopher, or a murderer…” -Harry J Anslinger
Marijuana has been used as an agent for achieving euphoria since ancient times; it was a spiritual and religious trigger at the time. It changed to be used in India ...view middle of the document...
The first reason for which I believe marijuana to be harmful is that it affects negatively the brain cells and chemistry. According to Australian researchers led by Murat Yucel, long-term heavy use of marijuana may cause two important brain structures to shrink, which are the hippocampus, that regulates memory and emotion, and the amygdala, which plays a critical role in fear and aggression. Based on brain scans, the study shows that the hippocampus volume was 12 per cent smaller and the amygdala volume was 7 per cent smaller in men who were heavy users compared to non-users (Dunham, 2008). Therefore, marijuana consumption affects the capacity of two major brain structures by reducing their optimal performance in a significant way. Users will experience loss of concentration, short-term memory impairments, difficulty in focusing on verbal learning tasks, like remembering a list of 15 words, and they will more likely exhibit mild signs of psychotic disorder (Dunham, 2008).
The psychoactive chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabisnol (THC) which produces that distinctive high. It binds to cannabinoid receptors, known as CB1 and CB2.“[C]hronic consumers of cannabis lose molecules called CB1 receptors in the brain’s arteries”, leading to blood flow problems which can cause attention deficits, memory loss, thus influencing concentration, perception of time and memory and coordination of movement ( U.S. DEA, 2009). THC has an effect on other functions of the central nervous system like the digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory tract. The binding of THC to the receptors was the object of a study where 30 chronic daily cannabis smokers were monitored for 4 weeks. Results showed that their receptor number decreased by 20 per cent when compared to healthy subjects. These numbers are proportionate to the number of years subjects are exposed to cannabis.THC disrupts coordination and balance by binding to receptors in the cerebellum and basal ganglia that regulates balance, posture, coordination of movement and reaction time. If those parameters are altered marijuana intoxication can cause accidents. A large Shock trauma unit conducting an ongoing study found that 17 per cent (one in six) of crash victims tested positive for THC (U.S. DEA, 2009). The decrease of the receptors combined to the shrinking of the 2 major brain structures show sufficiently how marijuana affects and changes the very physiology of the brain.
The second reason for which marijuana is dangerous is its effect on the lungs and respiratory tract.“ The British lung foundation finds that smoking 3 to 4 joints is the equivalent of 20 tobacco cigarettes” (Monitor’s Editorial Board, 2011), meaning that smoking marijuana has been associated with the same respiratory symptoms as tobacco such as coughing, chronic bronchitis, shortness of breath, more frequent chest illnesses and a heightened risk of lung infections. According to the DEA smoking marijuana may also...