Drug Awareness Month: Marijuana Abuse

ganja spliff

Marijuana, also known as ‘weed,’ ‘herb,’ cannabis or ganja, is revered in Jamaican pop culture, its virtues celebrated in many a reggae or dancehall song. Marijuana abuse is not to be taken lightly. The plant is a hallucinogen, which means it alters mood and cognitive function. It is generally smoked or eaten for it’s major psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Effects depend largely on the user’s mood and personality, as well as the amount and strength of the preparation used. These range from feeling of relaxation and well being with enhanced sensations and perceptions, to reduces social interaction and increase passive behavior. For some people, the drug may have little or no effect at all.

Marijuana smoke contains many of the same carcinogenic compounds found in tobacco smoke, thereby increasing the risk of lung cancer and other respiratory ailments.

Signs of marijuana intoxication

Bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, enhanced sensations and perceptions, increased appetite, dry mouth, possible dizziness and nausea.

Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, irritability, mild agitation, insomnia, sleep disturbances, nausea, cramping and craving for the drug.

Effects of chronic abuse

  • Mind and behavior: Decreased sense of time, confusion, inability to carry out multiple tasks, short-term memory impairment; users may become apathetic, anxious: high doses may trigger paranoia, hallucinations and ‘flashbacks’ in susceptible individuals.
  • Heart and blood: Reduces oxygen delivery to the heart muscle; may increase heart rate and lower blood pressure. This may pose significant risk to people with heart disorders.
  • Lungs: Heavy smokers suffer bronchial irritation and inflammation leading to an increase risk of bronchitis and other pulmonary disorders.Possibly carcinogenic.
  • Immune system: Possible decrease in immune responses increasing risk of infections and disease.
  • Sexual organs: Reduces hormone levels; may reduce fertility in both men and women.
  • Fetus: May contribute to premature birth. Marijuana freely crosses the placenta and is secreted in breast milk; possible delay development after birth.

More diG resources on marijuana

  1. Chart Of The Day: Average Age Of First Marijuana And Alcohol Use
  2. A Timeline of Marijuana in Jamaica
  3. The Marijuana Debates
  4. Related Articles – Marijuana Legalisation
  5. Studies Done on Marijuana in Jamaica