Smoke Weed Everyday: Do The Benefits Out Weigh The Risk?
Smoke Weed Everyday: Do The Benefits Out Weigh The Risk?
Marijuana laws have changed drastically over the past twenty years with no signs of slowing down. It all began in the early ’90s when the state of California passed Proposition 215 legalizing medical marijuana for their state.
Since then people, primarily cannabis smokers, have been lobbying enthusiastically for continued legalization of marijuana ever since. In recent years this has proven to be effective as many states since 2012 have begun legalizing recreational marijuana use.
What does recreational legalization have to do with everyday Americans or those who smoke weed every day?
With a rise in people using marijuana on a regular basis, for medicinal and non-medicinal purposes, it is important for the user to understand the positive and negative effects it may have on the brain and body. Researchers are frequently discovering the side effects of smoking marijuana making it necessary to stay informed with the latest cannabis news.
Marijuana Long-Term Effects On The Brain
The effects of cannabis have long been looked at regarding the potential memory effects, especially as it relates to long-term effects on the brain. This is especially true regarding short-term memory.
A natural progression of age is the loss of neurons. This loss in-part leads to the inability to learn new things at as quickly and efficiently of a rate. Ongoing THC exposure only exacerbates this natural occurrence.
The area of the brain most negatively impacted by marijuana use is the hippocampus. This area is responsible for memory and processing information.
Weed Slows Your Cognitive Processing Speed
Ever notice the substantially reduced pace at which your friend may be moving or speaking while under the influence of marijuana? There is an explanation for this reaction.
Marijuana reduced cognitive processing speed. Therefore, it may take longer for the brain to tell the arms or legs to move in a certain way or the mount to form words. This may not sound like a terrible symptom of cannabis use. After all, society could benefit from everyone going at a bit of a slower pace.
However, if an outside compound is impacting the brain to that extent at what point does it become worrisome?
This slowing is also thought to be a withdrawal symptom of marijuana as well. A 2004 study showed that the impact on processing speed is not as heightened during the acute high phase as it is when the individual is coming down from the high, especially among those with long-term use.
Smoking Weed Everyday Lowers Your Verbal Memory
What is verbal memory? Simply put, one’s ability to remember words. Ever find yourself mid-sentence and just can’t get that one word out to complete your train of thought? It feels like its just on the tip of your tongue. This is how it can feel to begin losing your verbal memory. Except it isn’t just a one-time thing, it is a reoccurrence.
A twenty-five-year study published in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at men and women and the cognitive effects of marijuana use over time. This study found that the participants remembered fewer words over time.
Another twenty-five-year study, Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, which began in 1983 and concluded in June of this year (2018), followed 4,000 young adults through mid-adulthood. This study suggests that lifetime exposure to marijuana is associated with lower test scores of verbal memory.
Those who are middle age may begin experiencing these effects of marijuana on their cognitive function. A researcher, Professor Reto Auer, at the University of Lausanne looked at the marijuana use of 3500 Americans.
Those participants who had past marijuana use, not current marijuana use, had worse verbal memory than participants who did not.
Frequent Adolescent Use Might Lower Your IQ
Marijuana use during adolescent years can result in dramatic long-term effects on the developing brain. Research during animal studies have shown the impact of THC exposure early in development; before birth, immediately after, and during adolescence has an impact on learning and memory abilities later in life.
Why Marijuana Affects Your Memory
The why behind marijuana’s effect on the brain is still largely a mystery. However, the curiosity of many neuroscientists drives the continued research into the matter and there have been a few explanations over the years.
A 2012 study showed rats exposed to THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, had memory impairments due to THC weakening the connections between neurons in the hippocampus that are essential to memory.
Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids occur in the brain naturally as well and act as neurotransmitters. When THC and other cannabinoids are taken in through marijuana smoke they bind to regions where natural cannabinoid neurotransmitters would bind and result in decreased memory and overall cognitive function.
How Does Weed Affect Work And Social Life?
A 2003 study asked participants about their perception of how marijuana affected their lives. The majority of those participants willingly admitted that marijuana had negative effects in, not just some, but all areas of their lives.
Regular marijuana users are more likely to show up late to work or not go in at all. A study observing postal workers showed that those who tested positive for marijuana use were 75 percent more likely to have issues with absenteeism. This can lead to issues with your job and even being let go from a position.
Socially, frequent marijuana use has been linked to an increase in criminal behavior, lower income, welfare dependence, unemployment, and general dissatisfaction with life.
Those that smoke marijuana may not realize that their use may be inadvertently leading to these negative outcomes, but those who are asked are more likely to report this dissatisfaction.
Poor Educational Outcomes
It is no surprise that education is a major area being reported as having negative outcomes from marijuana use. In total there are 48 studies that have associated marijuana use with a reduction in educational fulfillment.
A New Zealand study found that adolescents who frequently and persistently used marijuana had a lower IQ between 6 and 8 points. The main take away from this study is that those whose brains are still developing will see the most negative and long-term effects of marijuana use.
Higher Chance Of Developing Substance Addiction
The phrase, marijuana is a gateway drug, is well-known to any child of the ’90s who attended a D.A.R.E. program at their public school. It is not just a catchy phrase, however, research shows that some people are more likely to begin using other illicit drugs after using marijuana.
A study following participants for three years showed that those who already had an alcohol disorder were more likely to have that disorder get worse with the use of marijuana.
There is a clear physiological reason that this addiction phenomenon increases with the use of marijuana. Marijuana use early causes the brain to react less to the dopamine response.
This makes it necessary for the user to turn to more potent drugs in order to elicit the same response as they originally had from THC in marijuana. The THC in marijuana will also prepare the brain for a greater desired effect from other drugs.
Social interactions may also be a cause to the increase of harder drugs or increased substance abuse. Those who smoke socially may find themselves in situations where other substances are present to try.
This is also a way in which marijuana use can lead to a higher chance of developing a substance addiction.
Increased Risk Of Injury Or Accidents
Some studies suggest marijuana use may put the user at higher risk of workplace injury. This is largely the reason many employers screen for many drugs, including marijuana. One might think with the growing use of “harder” drugs why marijuana is still being screened prior to employment.
The risk of injury is at the top of the list. A 2011 study among post office employees who tested positive for marijuana were 55 percent more likely to be involved in an industrial accident and 85 percent more likely to have injuries.
Pros Of Smoking Weed Everyday
Twenty-nine states and Washington, DC have legalized medical marijuana. With that many states, and our nation’s capital, backing the use of cannabis to treat ailments one has to ask; do the benefits out weight the risk?
This article has focused primarily on the potential risks that exist for those who smoke weed every day. This is because the risks should be understood clearly and considered carefully before beginning or continuing use of marijuana.
But for many who suffer from problems with an anxiety disorder, chronic pain, can’t fall asleep, and other health-related issues marijuana has been just what they needed to get moving and heal. Cannabis has been used for nearly 3000 years to treat many medical conditions.
Bottom line? Get informed and stay informed. Know the facts, know yourself and your habits, and don’t put yourself at risk unnecessarily, but don’t cheat yourself either.