What is Weed?
Marijuana (Weed) is a mixture of the dried and shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of Cannabis sativa—the hemp plant.
Of the more than 500 chemicals in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, is responsible for many of the drug’s psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. It’s this chemical that changes brain activity, distorting how the mind perceives the world.
How does it affect the brain?
When marijuana is smoked or vaporized, its effects begin almost immediately and can last from 1 to 3 hours. Decision making, concentration, and memory can suffer for days after use, especially in regular users.
Long-term, regular use of marijuana—starting in the teen years—may impair brain development and lower IQ, meaning the brain may not reach its full potential.
Can you die?
It is very unlikely for a person to overdose and die from marijuana use. However, people can and do injure themselves and die because of marijuana’s effects on judgment, perception, and coordination, for example, when driving under the influence of the drug.
People can experience extreme anxiety (panic attacks), agitation, aggression, suicidal thoughts or psychotic reactions (where they lose touch with reality and may become paranoid).
Is weed addictive?
Yes, marijuana can be addictive. A user may feel the urge to smoke marijuana again and again to re-create the “high.” Repeated use could lead to addiction—which means the person has trouble controlling their drug use and often cannot stop even though they want to.
An estimated 30 percent of users may develop some degree of problem use—use that causes problems with a person’s health, school, or other aspects of life, also known as a marijuana use disorder.
“It is a natural plant…so it can’t be that bad.”
Sure, it can’t directly kill you – but that doesn’t mean that pot is risk-free. Regular marijuana use has been shown to be associated with long-term problems, including poor academic performance, memory loss and lung cancer. To a developing brain, like those of teenagers, marijuana can be especially toxic — using pot can lead to panic attacks, depression and other mental health problems, not to mention increased anxiety.
“Driving while high is safer than driving drunk.”
Hardly. In a study reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, even a moderate dose of marijuana was shown to impair driving performance, since it affects alertness, concentration, perception coordination and reaction time – essential skills required for safe driving. Researchers also found that 17% (1 in 5) of crash victims under the age of 18 tested positive for marijuana.
“I Can Smoke Pot and Still Get Straight A’s”
Hey, anything is possible – but there has been a lot of research done that states the opposite. Researchers have found that heavy marijuana use may be especially problematic during teens’ peak learning years, when the brain is still developing, since smoking pot can impair your ability to concentrate and retain information. This can cause poor academic performance. You might think you’re doing well in school – but you’ll never know if smoking pot is inhibiting your true academic potential.
“Everybody is doing it.”
While it may seem like everyone is doing it, this may be related to how much we are talking about marijuana use and not actual facts about use. The actual statistics in Canada are that 33% of Canadians aged 18-24 had tried marijuana in the past year. Daily use in the previous year was reported by 2% of the population aged 15 or older, and another 3% reported at least weekly use (one or more times a week). This is definitely not everyone. However, it is true that more males that use more than females.