The Effects of Marijuana on the Brain

Pothead or stoner is a term often used to refer to someone who regularly smokes marijuana. The term, although derogatory, is often fitting, as marijuana tends to mellow the mind. A recent story about a pot grower from Florida who fell for the police’s ransom note illustrates this point perfectly.

Steven Locasio of Marathon, Florida, was recently picked up for cultivation and sale of marijuana after he fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. Police found Locasio’s plot of 6 marijuana plants growing in a wooded lot, but weren’t able to trace it back to the person responsible. So they seized the plants, and as a last ditch effort, left a fake ransom note saying, “Thanks for the grow! You want them back? Call for the price…We’ll talk.” It didn’t take Locasio long to take the bait and call the ransom number, ready to negotiate. When he met to buy the plants back for $200, he was surprised to find out it was the police he was dealing with.

Marijuana and Brain Damage

While it may be debated whether or not this guy should win the dumbest pothead award, you can’t deny that doing drugs interferes with intelligence. Some drugs actually seem to “fry” the brain, just as the anti-drug tv campaign from the 1980’s stated. People do dumb things all the time when on drugs. The majority of crimes that are committed are drug-related. Sometimes it is because the person is so desperate to get their hands on their drugs that they will do anything to get them. Other times, a person’s judgment is just clouded because of the drug use. Many drugs, however, physically change the chemistry of the brain. A new study done in 2009 at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal showed that marijuana caused long lasting changes in serotonin and norepinephrine levels of the brain. This causes increased anxiety, stress, and depression, even after the marijuana use has stopped. Marijuana has also been found to impact the user’s cognition and emotion. All these effects on the brain should be a concern for those that use marijuana, and when the exposure is more frequent or carries on for an extended period of time, you can expect the damage to be even worse.

So while those under the influence of marijuana may seem laid back and relaxed, the drug is actually causing long-term or permanent damage to the brain. Problem solving, memory, concentration and perception may all show the effects. Marijuana may also affect the rest of the body adversely. Rapid heart beat, low blood pressure, respiratory problems, and decreased immune system function are all possible side effects.

Marijuana is one of those substances that many people don’t see the harm in. It is the most commonly used recreational drug and because it doesn’t cause fatal overdoses, many see it as harmless. But based on the evidence of recent studies, as well as other known adverse effects of marijuana, it should be avoided just like other drugs.

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