What’s wrong with marijuana?

Margaret Brackett - Contributing Columnist
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Marijuana is getting stronger. It has become increasingly popular since open drug use crashed through cultural and moral barriers in the 1960’s. Now the youths of the sixties are parents, grandparents, voters and politicians. Today, youth and even adults, say marijuana is basically harmless — if not glamorous, like it is portrayed in entertainment — or even medically beneficial. Attitudes have become so relaxed that Americans in some states voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

We are watching marijuana change from a counterculture banned substance into a mainstream recreational aid. But the debate is far from over. What are the facts about cannabis?

Marijuana in America — The real extent of marijuana use is unknown, but it is chronic and widespread. Ninety–five million Americans have experimented with this drug at least once. Under-18 marijuana initiates now make up 67 percent.

The Facts — People have grown the Indian hemp plant for use as a hallucinogen for more than 2,000 years. The name comes from Portuguese maringuango, meaning “intoxicant.” Drugs extracted from the Indian hemp are collectively called cannabis, and all forms of cannabis are hallucinogenic. The plant contains more than 400 known chemicals, many of which are toxic to the human body.

One compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) produces psychoactive effects in the brain, which are usually called highs. This distortion of mental perception usually takes effect within minutes: sensations include increased heart rate, a slight rise in blood pressure, vascular congestion, lessened coordination and balance, and dreamy, unreal state of mind. These sensations peak within the first hour, and usually wear off after a couple of hours, depending on the potency of THC and the amount ingested.

Marijuana is not only getting stronger culturally, it is getting stronger chemically. There are some insignificance differences between marijuana teens and young adults use today and what their parents used. The levels of delta -9 THC have multiplied from less than one percent in the mid 1970’s to more than six percent. In the past two decades, the potency of sinsemilla — a form of cannabis produced from the smaller leaves and flowers — increased from six percent to more than 13 percent. Some samples contained THC levels as high as 33 percent.

A Harmless Herb? Many people claim that cannabis is a comparatively benign natural herb — less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. Yet it contains many of the same cancer causing chemicals found in tobacco. The amount of tar and carbon and carbon-monoxide inhaled by those who smoke marijuana is three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers, regardless of the content. Unlike alcohol, where the ethanol is eliminated within a few hours, marijuana residues can stay in the body for weeks.

Marijuana use can also seriously damage respiratory and cardiovascular health, causing chronic coughing, wheezing and bronchitis. Smoking a relatively small amount of marijuana has a similar impact to smoking five to seven times that amount in cigarettes one after the other. There is no denying that cannabis affects the mind — that is its purpose. The drug can effect concentration, attention and learning for up to 24 hours. Like other hallucinogens, its use can lead to increased anxiety, panic attacks, depression and other mental issues.

Many people believe cannabis use is not addictive. However, use can lead to dependency, and heavy users have withdrawal symptoms that include increased aggression, irritability, anxiety and insomnia. Research shows that the younger a person is when he begins using cannabis; the more likely he will suffer these long-term consequences.

A Growing Problem – According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 40 percent of adult males arrested for crimes tested positive for cannabis at the time of arrest. Of all teens entering drug treatment, two thirds are dependent on cannabis — a larger portion than all other illicit drugs combined. Rather than making people mellow, users showed an increase in violent and aggressive behavior.

But It’s Beneficial — Many states allow people with certain medical problems to use marijuana for relief. Yet, as a smoked product, cannabis has never been proven to be medically beneficial. It is more than likely to harm the patient’s health. No matter the dosage, marijuana is far from a harmless high. Evidence continues to mount that it causes harmful long term physical and psychological effects. People take marijuana and other drugs to escape certain situations. The high masks the problems for a while, but when pleasure wears off, the problems are back.

A Physical and Spiritual Sin — Controversy over marijuana seems partially from confusion on the subject. Effects differ from person to person with the same amount of the drug and even occasion to occasion in the same individual. Some emphasize this and the pleasure of the high, to argue that everyone should be “free” to use cannabis. To clear the confusion, we have to open our Bibles.

(1 Corinthians 6:20) Scripture reveals that our bodies and minds are not our own to abuse. God commands us “Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. An incredible, eternal future awaits each of us when we turn to God to let Him develop our minds and character. Intoxicating ourselves on the “pleasures of sin.” (Hebrews 11:25) and the “lust of flesh” destroys this incredible human potential. (Galatians 5:16, 1 John 2:16). If you have a problem with drugs, you can beat it! Philippians 4:13 says all things are possible with Christ strengthening us. “Come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Information provided: The Philadelphia TRUMPET. Gerald Flurry, Editor, Edmond, OK

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Margaret Brackett

Contributing Columnist

Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.

Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.