The Physiological Effects of Marijuana Essay

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The Physiological Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana derives from the dried leaves and flower of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa; for thousands of years, physicians regarded marijuana as a useful pharmaceutical agent that could be used to treat a number of different disorders. In the 19th century, physicians in the United States and Europe used marijuana as an analgesic, as a treatment for migraine headaches, and as an anticonvulsant (Grinspoon & Bakalar, 1993, 1995). In 1938, a physician used marijuana (hashish) to completely control the terror and excitement of a patient who had contracted rabies
(Elliot, 1992, p. 600). Results from a research conducted in the
1880s indicated that smoking marijuana might help manage
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However, when it comes to immediate lethality, marijuana is reasonably safe; nevertheless, its content can produce long term physical effects caused by Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical ingredient in marijuana that inhibits the immune system's ability to fight of infectious diseases and cancer
(Adams, & Martin 1996). Even occasional marijuana smokers may experience unpleasant effects; such as burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, often followed by a heavy cough. Regular marijuana users may have similar respiratory problems than tobacco users: daily cough, frequent chest illness, and an increased risk of lung infections (Tashkin, 1990). Because marijuana contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke, and it also produces high levels of the enzyme that converts certain hydrocarbons into their carcinogenic form-levels that may speed-up the changes that ultimately produce malignant cells; and thereby, increasing the likelihood of promoting cancer of the lungs, and other parts of the respiratory system.

Furthermore, smoking marijuana increases the risk of developing cancer of the head or neck (Hoffman, D. Brunnemann, K.D. & Gori,
G. B, et al., 1975). The greater the amount of marijuana use, the greater the risk. The primary

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