SCIENCE: Everything you never wanted to know about marijuana


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Photo by Chloe Coffman |

Photo Illustration | Marijuana use can lead to an increased appetite, memory issues and distorted perceptions.


Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among young people in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Marijuana is commonly found in the form of green-brown dried up parts of the Cannabis sativa plant. The drug includes the bud, seeds, stem and leaves of the plant. People can smoke marijuana as rolled cigarettes, in pipes or eat it in food form.

Additionally, many people use vaporizers to avoid inhaling the smoke from the drug. Using a vaporizer is often more clean and does not involve burning the marijuana, according to a website on portable vaporizers.

A vaporizer heats the marijuana at a temperature that does not burn the drug. The essential oils which contain the same active ingredients boil until vapor is created that can be inhaled, according to the site.

The resulting vapor contains the active ingredients that will make a person "high" without the chemicals found in the smoke. Using a vaporizer is not necessarily safer than the other personal uses of marijuana, but it is the least risky option, according to the site.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are both short term and long term effects that marijuana has on the brain.

When someone smokes marijuana, the main chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) goes from the lungs straight into the bloodstream and then into other organs. An individual experiences the marijuana’s "high" when the THC binds to the receptors responsible for pleasure, time perception and pain, according to livescience.com.

Some short-term effects include an increase in appetite, problems with memory and learning and distorted perception. While the short-term effects of using marijuana on the brain can be temporary, the drug can make it unsafe to drive while under the influence of marijuana.

People who use large amounts of marijuana more likely experience signs of depression or anxiety, according to the site.

It was found that teens who continue to smoke marijuana have lower IQ’s later on in life and changes in the structure of their brains, according to livescience.com.

The long-term effects of marijuana usage include changes to the brain and problems in the respiratory and immune systems. Regarding the respiratory system, those who smoke a lot of marijuana can develop problems in their lungs like mucus or bronchitis, according to kidshealth.org.

For the immune system, excessive marijuana use can make it harder for the body to fight off future infections, according to the site.

Additionally, those using marijuana can face problems with problems with their careers regarding criminal records and drug testing. Once caught with medical marijuana, charges can end up on the person's criminal records for future plans such as college or jobs, according to the site.

Many companies require a drug test as part of hiring process. The marijuana drug can be found in someone’s system for continual several weeks. Companies also continue to do routinely drug tests to illuminate those under the influence, according to the site.

In New Jersey, individuals are allowed to have access to medical marijuana under certain qualifying conditions and under a two ounce per month limit, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws website.

Many benefits of medical marijuana are still unknown. The U.S. Food and Drug Association supports any research on the medical usage of medical marijuana through valid review and approval from the agency, according to their website.

They hope that through research, there will be more information about the safe and effective drug products for medical treatment, according to the site.

Kevin Jackson, a School of Engineering first-year student, believes that doctors should be allowed to prescribe small amounts of marijuana if it is the best way to treat a person’s illness.

Rutgers University has set strict policies against the use or possession of illegal drugs. Any selling or exchange of these drugs on University property is a violation of the policies, according to the University residence life website.

The University has restrictions against the possession and sharing of medical marijuana. Penalties can result in arrest, loss of housing or immediate counseling.

Like any drug, once you are addicted, it is hard to let go. Those who use marijuana for long periods of time can experience withdrawal symptoms if they are trying to give up.

Those who are trying to give up the drug experience systems like anxiety, depression and having trouble sleeping or eating, according to the site.

Students who want to quit using marijuana can contact Rutgers. Individual counseling and/or group therapy can be beneficial for those who want to stop marijuana use.


Pragya Hooda is a School of Engineering first-year student majoring in biomedical engineering. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. She can be found on Twitter @tobphase.


Pragya Hooda

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