What can destroy people’s lives

Drugs destroy millions of lives every year, yet the most disturbing aspect of this problem is the damage drug abuse does to our young people and to the future of our country. With more and more young people being introduced to drugs.

Marijuana is the word used to describe the dried flowers, seeds and leaves of the hemp plant. A survey conducted in 2002 found that 14 million individuals in the United States alone had smoked marijuana at least once during the previous month. In Ontario a 2005 survey of students from grades 7 to 12 revealed that of all drugs, excluding alcohol and tobacco, cannabis is the most frequently used. One in seven students reported using cannabis six or more times during the previous year.

Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint). When a person smokes a joint, he usually feels its effect within minutes.  As the typical user inhales more smoke and holds it longer than he would with a cigarette, a joint creates a severe impact on one’s lungs. Aside from the discomfort that goes with sore throats and chest colds, it has been found that consuming lone joint gives as much exposure to cancer-producing chemicals as smoking five cigarettes.

The mental consequences of marijuana use are equally severe. Marijuana smokers have poorer memories and mental aptitude than do non-users. Some users suffer panic attacks or anxiety. But the problem does not end there. The active ingredient in cannabis, THC, remains deposited in fat cells and organs such as the brain, sex glands (testicles and ovaries), spleen, liver and lungs.

What does that mean to you? Even if you stop using the drug, you can continue to experience harmful physical and mental side effects from it for months or even years. Smoking marijuana and hashish causes more lung damage than smoking tobacco. The risk of lung cancer is many times higher for joint smokers than for cigarette smokers. Marijuana smoke contains 50% to 70% more cancer-causing hydrocarbons than cigarettes and one joint is equal to five tobacco cigarettes. Chronic joint smokers often suffer from bronchitis, an inflammation of the respiratory tract. Marijuana changes the structure of sperm cells, deforming them. Thus even small amounts of marijuana can cause temporary sterility in men. Marijuana use can upset a woman’s menstrual cycle. A pregnant woman who regularly smokes marijuana or hashish may give birth prematurely to an undersized, underweight body. Studies show that the mental functions of people who have smoked a lot of marijuana tend to be impaired or diminished. The THC in cannabis disrupts nerve cells in the brain affecting the memory. Studies also suggest that prenatal use of the drug may result in birth defects, mental abnormalities and increased risk of leukaemia in children.

Short-term effects:

  • sensory distortion
  • panic
  • anxiety
  • poor coordination of movement
  • lowered reaction time
  • after an initial “up,” the user feels sleepy or depressed
  • increased heartbeat (an risk of heart attack)

Long-term effects:

  • reduced resistance to common illnesses (colds. bronchitis. etc.)
  • suppression of the immune system
  • growth disorders
  • increase of abnormally structured cells in the body
  • reduction of male sex hormones
  • rapid destruction of lung fibers and lesions (injuries) to the brain could be permanent
  • reduced sexual capacity
  • study difficulties: reduced ability to learn and retain information, apathy, drowsiness, lack of motivation
  • personality and mood changes
  • inability to understand things clearly

Marijuana itself does not lead the person to the other drugs; people take drugs to get rid of unwanted situations or feelings. The drug (marijuana) masks the problem for a time (while the user is high). When the “high” fades, the problem, unwanted condition or situation returns more intensely than before. The user may then turn to stronger drugs since marijuana no longer “works.” The vast majority of cocaine users (99.9%) began by first using a “gateway drug” like marijuana, cigarettes or alcohol. Of course, not everyone who smokes marijuana and hashish goes on to use harder drugs. Some never do. Others quit using marijuana altogether.

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