November 19, 2010
Grass, herb, hashish, dope or whatever name it is called, marijuana is the world's most
consumed illegal drug (Basic facts about drugs: Marijuana). A lot of people underestimate
how dangerous marijuana is. Marijuana has many long-term effects and causes medical
issues. The drug is illegal in the United States and there are many parties demanding it to be
legalized. Marijuana should not be legalized in the United States due to its risks and long-
Marijuana is a substance used as a psychoactive drug and is prepared from the
cannabis plant. Marijuana is in general the dried natural herb of the cannabis plant. There are
a lot of forms for marijuana. Besides the natural form, every other form differs in the
concentration of the intoxicant ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana is
consumed by many ways, smoking, chewing, or even being brewed as a tea (Marijuana fast
Marijuana is the most spread illicit drug in the world. Statistics estimated that in 2008
between 129 and 191 people aged 15 to 64 around the world had used marijuana at least once.
In the United States, 12.5 of the population had tried marijuana at least one within the same
age group (World Drug Report 2010 194). That means nearly four million people out of 300
million in the United States had tried marijuana before. The data also shows that 75.7% of
drug users around the United states use marijuana. As for marijuana itself, more than 3,000
million kilograms of marijuana was produced in 2008. Although more than eight million
indoor and outdoor plants were eradicated, the production of marijuana is progressing (World
Drug Report 2010 184).
Marijuana has many effects, some are short-term effects and others are long-term.
There are cardiovascular system, somatic, neurological effects and forgetting problems –
those are some of the short-term effects. Marijuana also affects the human body in the long
term. Long-term effects include potential infection of chronic pulmonary disorder, leading to
lung cancer, and high risk for developing schizophrenia.
Marijuana can affect negatively the cardiovascular system in the body. Smoking
marijuana increases the heart rate by 20% to 100%. This happens since a person starts
smoking marijuana and could last for 2 or 3 hours. This happens because of a disturbance in
the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system is disturbed because smoking
marijuana while sitting or lying down causes the blood pressure to increase gradually. On the
other hand, smoking it while standing causes it to decrease. In addition, after smoking
marijuana heavily while sitting down, standing up suddenly causes intense headache or
fainting in some cases. This also increases the probability of falling down and being injured
Using Marijuana has a direct risk on the body. Marijuana dries the throat and the
mouth,. It also redden the eyes as a result of blood congestion around the eyes. Alongside
with reddening the eyes, the pressure of marijuana user's eyeballs is dropped. Marijuana users
feel cooler hotter than usual on their feet or hands. Marijuana also causes sluggishness on
body. This happens as a result of muscle relaxation on the body because of the THC
There is a kind of cells in the body called cannabinoid receptor, which ,when
activated, can affect the brain and the nervous system. Cannabinoid receptor is activated by
the cannabis plant or the THC. Cannabinoid receptors are located in many areas in the brain.
When cannabinoid receptors are mixed with the THC they hurt the cerebellum which helps
the body to coordinate, the amygdale, which is responsible for emotions and emotional
responses, the spinal cord which gives signal between the brain and the body, the
hippocampus which is responsible for stress control and memory, the brain stem which
controls sleep and movement and many other areas in the brain. Among those areas, the last
two, the hippocampus and the brain stem, are the most affected areas by cannabis. Marijuana
users usually forget things easily and can't perform tasks that require a lot of attention
Another serious short-term issue that is caused by marijuana is problems with the
memory. In an experiment done on 5 people to see how the memory functions after smoking
marijuana, it was implied that marijuana alters memory performance noticeably. The 5
subjects, after smoking different doses of marijuana, had completed a delayed match-to-
sample task. The experiment showed that the short-term memory of the subjects are weaker
than normal and because of the THC amount in the body (Cherek, Lane, Lieving &
As for problems in the long term, marijuana could be a reason for getting lung cancer.
Until now, it is not very clear that marijuana has direct link to lung cancer. A lot of studies
have proven that tobacco in cigarettes damages some cells in the lungs that can lead to lung
cancer. But there are not known cases of people getting cancer because of smoking marijuana.
However, scientists at the University of Leicester have found that a chemical called
acetaldehyde us the cause of the damage in the lung's cells. This chemical can be found in
tobacco and also in cannabis. After many experiments, they implied that smoking marijuana
is more harmful than cigarettes – 4 cigarettes of marijuana may be as harmful as 20 cigarettes
of tobacco (Stacy).
The use of drugs, including marijuana, has been linked with the probability of
developing schizophrenia. Scientists, mainly from the UK, Australia, and Sweden, has
reached to this explanation after more than 30 studies in the past 20 years. Their statistics
show that around 10% of people with schizophrenia got this mental disorder because of
marijuana. People under 21 are the most who get schizophrenia from marijuana because their
brains are still developing in that level and are flexible to changes. Especially, people around
the age of 15 are three times, which is 300%, more likely to have schizophrenia. Other
scientists had confirmed their claim and they acknowledged that it could be 700% for heavy
consumers. More data shows that 4.5 times more likely that a person would have
schizophrenia at the age of 26 if they start smoking at the age of 15. Whereas, only 1.65 times
for people who starts smoking marijuana at the age of 18. Even five uses of marijuana of a
teenager life could lead to significant increase of getting a mental (Marijuana / Cannabis and
On the other hand, some group of people are demanding to legalize marijuana. They
support themselves saying marijuana has many medical benefits and it should be legalize for
that reason. Dr Peter J. Cohen describes why marijuana should be legal and he mentions its
how it could be useful as medical product:
Why should FDA approval have been sought? Why should “medical
marijuana” have been classified as a drug rather than a botanical, an herbal
medication, or a folk remedy? The answer is in the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic
Act itself: “The term „drug‟ means articles intended for use in the diagnosis,
cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man . . . and articles
(other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of
man.”8 That smoked marijuana is both a “controlled substance” and a plant
product is extraneous to this discussion. Controlled substances have
widespread use in legitimate medical practice. As an anesthesiologist, I have
legally administered more narcotics (in the course of providing medical care)
than many low-level illegal drug dealers. Plants and their derivatives can be
potent medications. During my internship, I used digitalis leaf (derived from
the foxglove plant) to treat congestive heart failure. Botanicals are the active
ingredients in tincture of opium9 and belladonna suppositories,10 both of
which are legal and FDA approved when employed for legitimate therapeutic
use. Smoked marijuana could achieve the same status were the FDA to find it
safe and effective for medical use. (Cohen 20)
However, marijuana can be used medically if prescribed by doctor in 14 states. People
who have medical issues that need cannabis as a cure can get a state-issued card that permits
them to use marijuana (Harrison).. If marijuana goes legal, much more people will have the
opportunity to try it. Also, the possession of marijuana will be easier for under-aged kids. To
top it all off, the consumption of marijuana will be higher and people will smoke more
quantities of marijuana. Thus, more people will be exposed to the risks of cannabis and its
To conclude this, marijuana should not be legalize in the United States because of its
many short and long-term effects on the human body. People do not realize how dangerous
consuming marijuana is. It was scientifically proven that marijuana has many risks. Some
risks affect the brain, the heart, and even the body itself. Other effects can lead to serious
diseases like cancer and are the main causes for mental illnesses like schizophrenia. In the
contrary, many people want marijuana to be legalize. They reason that because marijuana can
sometimes be used to cure some diseases. However, some states allow people to use
marijuana for their medical issues. Marijuana should never be legalize and people should not
use it for their own benefit.
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Cherek, Don R., Lane, Scott D., Lieving, Lori M. and Tcheremissine, Oleg V. "Marijuana
Effects On Human Forgetting Functions." Journal of the Experimental Analysis of
Behavior 83.1 (2005): 67-83. ASU Libraries. Web. November 18, 2010.
Cohen, Peter J. " Medical Marijuana, Compassionate Use, and Public Policy: Expert Opinion
or Vox Populi?" Hastings Center Report 36.3 (2006): 19-22. Web. November 18,
Harrison, David. "The buying and selling of legal marijuana." September 9, 2010. Web.
November 18, 2010. < http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=511628>.
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Pharmacology 42.11 (2001): 58-63. Web. November 18, 2010.
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Marijuana fast facts. National Drug Intelligence Center. March, 2003. Web. November 18,
2010. < http://www.justice.gov/ndic/pubs3/3593/index.htm>.
Moelker, Wendy. "How does marijuana affect your body? What are the marijuana physical
effects?" July. 22, 2008. Web. November 18, 2010.
Pertwee, Roger G. "Pharmacology of cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors." Pharmacology
& Therapeutics 74.2 (1997): 129-180. Web. November 18, 2010.
Stacy, Kelli M. "Marijuana smoke linked to cancer." June 23, 2009. Web. November 18,
2010. < http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20090623/marijuana-smoke-linked-to-
World Drug Report 2010. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. New York: United
Nations, 2010. Web. November 18, 2010.