By Sandi Bhutella
There are a lot of different opinions on marijuana use and I am the first to point out that my mom’s is extreme. The fact is that marijuana is an illegal drug. With that in mind, and my mother’s reaction to use of the drug, I am going to now take this opportunity to clear a few things up about the drug, it’s effects, and where we see it in society.
Marijuana is often referred to as a ‘gateway drug’. This means that it’s usually the first drug that people will ever try. If people have a positive experience with marijuana, the assumption is they will be tempted to try different drugs that are harder or can do more damage. Although the effects of marijuana are not as harsh as other drugs out there, it is important to be aware of the facts. Smoking marijuana in the current generation is probably way more dangerous than it was say, forty years ago. Marijuana, contains over 400 chemicals, 60 of them being cannabinoids which are psychoactive compounds that are produced inside the body after cannabis is taken from the plant (they react with your body and get you high). The most effective cannabinoid is THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannibol, and it has the most psychoactive effect. It affects your brain to make you interpret the world around you differently. Another thing to be really aware of is that drug dealers aren’t the most reliable of sources so you never really know what else could be in the mix. Sometimes marijuana can be laced with more dangerous substances like cocaine, crack or PCP. It’s also been proven that smoking marijuana is much harder on your lungs than first believed. Smoking marijuana is even harsher than cigarettes on the lungs and it is believed that the effects of smoking one marijuana joint are the same as smoking four tobacco cigarettes.
Now that the risks are outlined, let’s get down to the effects of the drug. What exactly does marijuana do to you? Why are so many people smoking it? The medical explanation of what physically happens is that when you inhale, the smoke makes its way through the bloodstream and eventually ends up in the brain, which is were it does most of its work. The drug affects the parts of the brain that have to do with short-term memory, reasoning and coordination. The non-medical explanation is that the results of smoking marijuana usually depend on the person, the mood of the person and the atmosphere where the person is smoking. Most people say that it makes music sound better or that it makes colours more prominent. Some people use it to relax, it even helps some people to concentrate or be more creative. Others, such as me when I tried it, find that it makes them really goofy and makes pretty much everything funny.
One of the real dangers about marijuana is that it can make people very, very lazy. Being high on marijuana makes the mundane seem exciting or interesting for most people so it’s easy to waste time. This can turn out to be a real problem for some people because in many cases craving the feeling of total relaxation and ‘chilled out’ can become all you want to do.
Most things are okay in moderation and if you’re curious about marijuana and its effects, talk to your parents - that was my biggest mistake. Your parents can give you honest, truthful advice on the best way to handle a situation regarding drugs. If Charlotte had talked with her parents before inviting me over they probably would have warned her about what could have happened. If I had talked with my mom about marijuana before smoking it maybe she could have seen another point of view and things wouldn’t have gone so horribly wrong between our families. I’d still be with Charlotte, my mom wouldn’t be mad at me and everything would be cool… then again, maybe not.