What is marijuana?
Marijuana is a plant (cannabis). It may be smoked or eaten. There are over 200 slang names for marijuana, including pot, weed, Mary Jane, grass, or chronic. Marijuana is also used as hashish, the pressed resin (tarry substance) of the plant.
A chemical in the plant called THC changes a person’s body chemistry. THC is absorbed through the lungs or digestive tract and goes into the blood. THC causes the brain to release a chemical that makes a person feel “high.” THC stays in the body’s organs for several days. Marijuana may be more potent than it used to be in the 60s and 70s. This can cause very serious health problems.
Marijuana can cause dependence. If you are dependent on a drug, you feel a need for the drug when it is stopped. If you crave the drug, or feel distressed without it, you are psychologically dependent. If you have bodily changes such as anxiety or trouble sleeping when the drug is stopped, you are physically dependent.
What about medical marijuana?
THC may be used to help people with glaucoma, certain nerve disorders, severe pain, or nausea from chemotherapy.
Health Canada grants access to marijuana for medical use for those suffering from certain serious illnesses.
How does marijuana affect the body?
Brain: Marijuana changes your view of reality. It can cause trouble with memory and learning, even weeks after you stop using it. It makes it harder to think clearly and solve problems. It also causes loss of coordination and slows your reflexes.
Emotions: Marijuana users are more likely to have mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, or schizophrenia than nonusers. You may not be interested in life, work, family, and friends. Relationships get worse and job and school performance suffers.
Lungs: Marijuana smoke contains hazardous chemicals. Marijuana smokers have symptoms such as chronic coughs and lung infections.
Heart: Marijuana can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Because of the carbon monoxide inhaled, blood is less able to carry oxygen.
Immune system: THC can change the way the body fights infection and cancer.
Pregnancy: Smoking marijuana while pregnant can cause lasting effects on a child. The baby may not grow normally. The child can have more behavioral problems and problems with language, attention, and memory.
How long do the effects last?
Urine test results for marijuana generally show positive for several days after you use marijuana. For regular users, test results may show positive for several weeks or longer.
A treatment program will focus on staying away from drugs for the rest of your life. The best way to help yourself is to see your healthcare provider and make plans to stop using drugs.
Where can I get more information?
For more information on Medical marijuana see the Health Canada website at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/index-eng.php
For more information on Addiction Services and dealing with an addiction to marijuana visit Nova Scotia department of Health and Wellness website at: http://www.gov.ns.ca/hpp/addictions/