Cannabis is not only probably the most abused illicit drug in the United States (Gold, Frost-Pineda, & Jacobs, 2004; NIDA, 2010) it really is in fact probably the most abused illegal drug worldwide (UNODC, 2010). In the usa it is just a schedule-I substance which means that it is legally regarded as having no medical use in fact it is highly addictive (US DEA, 2010). Doweiko (2009) explains that not all cannabis has abuse potential. He therefore suggests using the common terminology marijuana when referring to cannabis with abuse potential. With regard to clarity this terminology can be used in this paper aswell.
Today, marijuana is at the forefront of international controversy debating the appropriateness of its widespread illegal status. In lots of Union states it has become legalized for medical purposes. runtz carts This trend is known as “medical marijuana” and is strongly applauded by advocates while simultaneously loathed harshly by opponents (Dubner, 2007; Nakay, 2007; Van Tuyl, 2007). It really is in this context that it was decided to choose the topic of the physical and pharmacological effects of marijuana for the basis of this research article.
What is marijuana?
Marijuana is a plant more correctly called cannabis sativa. As stated, some cannabis sativa plants do not have abuse potential and so are called hemp. Hemp can be used widely for various fiber products including newspaper and artist’s canvas. Cannabis sativa with abuse potential is what we call marijuana (Doweiko, 2009). It is interesting to note that although widely studies for quite some time, there exists a lot that researchers still have no idea about marijuana. Neuroscientists and biologists know what the effects of marijuana are but they still do not fully understand why (Hazelden, 2005).
Deweiko (2009), Gold, Frost-Pineda, & Jacobs (2004) explain that of approximately four hundred known chemicals found in the cannabis plants, researchers know of over sixty that are considered to have psychoactive effects on the mind. The most popular and potent of the is â-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Like Hazelden (2005), Deweiko states that while we know many of the neurophysical ramifications of THC, the reasons THC produces these effects are unclear.
As a psychoactive substance, THC directly affects the central nervous system (CNS). It affects a massive range of neurotransmitters and catalyzes other biochemical and enzymatic activity aswell. The CNS is stimulated once the THC activates specific neuroreceptors in the brain evoking the various physical and emotional reactions that will be expounded on more specifically further on. The only real substances that may activate neurotransmitters are substances that mimic chemicals that the mind produces naturally. The point that THC stimulates brain function teaches scientists that the mind has natural cannabinoid receptors. It is still unclear why humans have natural cannabinoid receptors and how they work (Hazelden, 2005; Martin, 2004). What we can say for certain is that marijuana will stimulate cannabinoid receptors around twenty times more actively than the body’s natural neurotransmitters ever could (Doweiko, 2009).
Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is the relationship between THC and the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin receptors are among the most stimulated by all psychoactive drugs, but most specifically alcohol and nicotine. Independent of marijuana’s relationship with the chemical, serotonin has already been a little understood neurochemical and its own supposed neuroscientific roles of functioning and purpose remain mostly hypothetical (Schuckit & Tapert, 2004). What neuroscientists have discovered definitively is that marijuana smokers have very high levels of serotonin activity (Hazelden, 2005). I’d hypothesize that it might be this relationship between THC and serotonin that explains the “marijuana maintenance program” of achieving abstinence from alcohol and allows marijuana smokers to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms and prevent cravings from alcohol. The efficacy of “marijuana maintenance” for aiding alcohol abstinence isn’t scientific but is a phenomenon I have personally witnessed with numerous clients.
Interestingly, marijuana mimics so many neurological reactions of other drugs that it is extremely difficult to classify in a particular class. Researchers will stick it in any of the categories: psychedelic; hallucinogen; or serotonin inhibitor. It has properties that mimic similar chemical responses as opioids. Other chemical responses mimic stimulants (Ashton, 2001; Gold, Frost-Pineda, & Jacobs, 2004). Hazelden (2005) classifies marijuana in its own special class – cannabinoids. The reason behind this confusion may be the complexity of many psychoactive properties found within marijuana, both known and unknown. One recent client I saw could not recover from the visual distortions he suffered due to pervasive psychedelic use given that he was still smoking marijuana. This appeared to be because of the psychedelic properties found within active cannabis (Ashton, 2001). But not stro