Physical and Psychological Effects of Marijuana

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Marijuana while illegal on a federal level has been legalized in 18 states and the District of Columbia for medical use and also for personal use for anyone over 21 in Washington and Colorado. 48% of Americans admit to using marijuana according to a 2013 survey conducted by Scientific America. With the change in public opinion concerning marijuana the need to understand the effect and consequences associated with its use are vitally important. What are the effects on the brain and the rest of the body? Does it matter when you start using marijuana? Also what is the effect marijuana use has on a person’s life, to include school, work, family and friends. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse marijuana causes the user to feel euphoric by acting on the brain’s reward system. The euphoria is caused by the release of dopamine it to the user system. Other effects can include heightened sensory perception (e.g., brighter colors), laughter, altered perception of time, and increased appetite. Marijuana also inhibits the formation of new memories and causes coordination and balance to be degraded. These reactions are caused by binding the receptors in the cerebellum and base ganglia. The effect is similar to the impairments that are normally associated with consuming alcohol. Habitual users can also develop acute psychosis, a fundamental derangement of the mind (as in schizophrenia) characterized by defective or lost contact with reality especially as evidenced by delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech and behavior (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). The IQ level of a marijuana users also decreases over time according to a Duke University study conducted by clinical psychologist Madeline Meier “people who bega... ... middle of paper ... ...s Khamsi, R. (2013, May 31) How Safe Is Recreational Marijuana. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-safe-recreational-marijuana Rogeberg, O. (2013). Correlations between cannabis use and IQ change in the Dunedin cohort are consistent with confounding from socioeconomic status. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States of America, 110(11), 4251-4254. Doi: 10.1073/pnas.1215678110 Wenk, G. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-food/201106/does-it-matter-when-you-start-smoking-marijuana Macleod, J., Oakes, R., Copello, A., Crome, I., Egger, M., Hickman, M., & ... Smith, G. (2004). Psychological and social sequelae of cannabis and other illicit drug use by young people: a systematic review of longitudinal, general population studies. Lancet,363(9421), 1579-1588.

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