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Marijuana's Short and Long Term Effects on the Brain

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Millions are abusing marijuana every day. In fact, 1 out of 7 high school students smoke

marijuana more than once a day. Marijuana is taken very lightly and is the most highly used

illegal drug. For this reason, society should know its short and long term effects on the brain.

Marijuana can effect these two areas emotionally or physically. Also in some cases physical

damages causes the emotional response. Although most public information on drugs are funded

by anti-drug organizations, hopefully we will still learn these true facts of marijuana in spite of


The brain is the most complicated part of the human body. I will begin explaining certain

parts and their functions. In doing this to I hope to give a better understand of our brain while

implicating the possibilities of chemical induced complications "The brain with its 15 billion

neurons and nerve cells operates using chemical and electrical messages: (Swanson, 1975). This

is how we perceive our senses. Differences in the way our brain translates these

messages can impair perceptions. Hallucinogens prevent the brain from receiving all of these

messages in order. All of the information that we receive is through millions of transactions of

neurons, like a computer, marijuana alters these transactions.

After smoking, or consuming marijuana, it is distributed in the brain. The concentration

of marijuana in the brain may be governed by an active transport process in the choroid plexus

network of blood vessels in the brain which regulates intraventricular pressure by absorption

and secretion of cerebro spinal fluid. one scientific experiment it gave an example of how the

distribution of marijuana in the central nervous system could effect man. At a high dose of 30

mg./kg. marked sedation and pronounced motor incoordination peaked at the one hour interval

subsiding in 8 hours when over reaction occurred to external stimuli; man reveals incapacitation

of cognitive and motor function. High concentrations of marijuana are usually found in the

following parts of the brain: the frontal cortex (the general association area), and hippocampus

(short term memory and oreintation). As a result, perception of time, mood and general

cordination is impaired. It is apparent that marijuana intoxication effects the neurological

functions and usually disappears in 24 hours, but can become a permanent malfunction.THC

effects the limbic system which is vital to some every day functions. The brain is made up of 3

basic cerebral types differing in structure, chemistry and organization (MacLean, 1970). These

are: 1) reptilian or brain stem responsible for instinctive (survival) behavior (and regulator of vital

functions of the body) 2) old mammalian (paleocortex) or limbic brain surrounding the brain

stem (like a lap or limbus) having an important role in emotional behavior and motivation

(contains opiate receptors) 3) new mammailian (neo cortex) brain (thinking cap) with the

capacity for symbolic (written and spoken language). The 3 subdivisions of the limbic cortical

system or ring are linked by 3 pathways to the brain stem. The lower part (hippocampusi

memory information) of the ring connected with the amygdala insures self-presentation

(survival). The upper part is connected to the septum which is the area for pleasure. These 2 are

connected to the olfactory which deals with sense. In addition, there is a third passageway

dealing with sexual behaviors and visual activities. Any limbic dysfunction can result in emotional

and mood disturbences alienation distortions of perceptions and paranoid states. THC can

reduce the blood flow to the hippocampus, which earlier I introduced as the controller of short

term memory and orientation.

To make a simple conclusion to all of this confusing data, marijuana results in chemical

damage effecting emotional, motivational and hormonal disturbances. After 3 months of light,

moderate and heavy use, evidence of irreversible damage can be detected.

The effects of marijuana are mostly short term. When I say short term, I mean damages

that can restore to normal. Most symptoms from heavy usage vanish in about a year and a half

of clean time. Although, not ever exactly back to normal relatively emotional and memory

abnormalites are restored. The more evident short term effects though leave in about one full

month. Since the more severe effects go away in one month one can see the potential for a

problem in



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