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Marijuana, or cannabis, is a psychoactive drug that alters the mind. It is a harmful substance that heightens perception and affects the mood of individuals due to its main ingredient, THC. Recreational cannabis has been legal in Canada since the passage of the Cannabis Act on June 7, 2018. Along with this controversial Act, comes many rules and regulations to limit the potential dangers of the substance. Nevertheless, the use of cannabis has greatly increased throughout Canada since its legalization. There are common signs of cannabis use such as red eyes and uncoordinated movements, along with long term health concerns like heart, lung, and brain complications (Shiel, 2018). Cannabis can also be seen as the root cause of many mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, along with the destruction of confidence in social situations. The devastating effects of marijuana do not only stain physical health, but mental and social health as well.
The human body consists of a network of highly complex mechanisms that efficiently work together to promote healthy function. Marijuana on the other hand, causes the destruction of many physical aspects of the body. Unlike medicinal marijuana, which contains CBD, recreational marijuana consists of TBC, which makes the drug psychoactive. One of the main issues that this substance causes is the suppression of body’s immune system (Live Science Staff, 2010). This makes cannabis smokers are more susceptible to certain cancers and respiratory infections than non-smokers. These side-effects are due to the drugs chemical structure, which causes the body to release immune system cells. These cells suppress proactive immune cells that usually fight infections. Without essential immune cells, individuals are more likely to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and osteoporosis. Because TBC alters the central nervous system (CNS), it greatly affects brain function. Once cannabis containing THC is inhaled or consumes, it is absorbed through the bloodstream and releases neurotransmitters to the white matter of the brain, where cannabinoid 1 receptors are located (Mandel et al., 2017). These neurotransmitters bind to the receptors which causes great damage to the entire brain. These events can be so strong that cannabis-induced psychosis may result. Psychosis is a severe condition that affects normal brain function and causes the progressive loss of reality. This can result in seeing and believing things that are not true. Cannabis abuse is related to other brain diseases as well such as brain cancer and cognitive impairment. Just like the brain, the cardiovascular system is another body system that is negatively affected by marijuana. Since cannabinoids work to dilate blood vessels and make the heart pump harder, they become one of the main causes of hypertension (high blood pressure). As the inhalation of cannabis leads to higher blood pressure, the risk of cardiac arrest and strokes also increase. It is clear that marijuana causes great physical harm and should be used very carefully under the right circumstances.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the definitions of health is “the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” (WHO, 2019, p.1). This means that along with physical health, mental and social health are equally important for overall health. Similar to physical health, marijuana greatly influences mental health as well. One of the major problem’s individuals face with cannabis abuse is addiction. Although cannabis is not extremely addictive like cocaine, Evidence indicates that long-term marijuana abuse may lead to addiction, Approximately one-in-ten individuals will become addicted to marijuana simply from early experimentation with the drug. These numbers increase to one-in-six individuals is the drug is taken by teenagers. In addition, attempting to withdraw from marijuana usually results in cannabis withdrawal syndrome, which result in sleeping trouble, cravings, and anxiety. This syndrome makes withdrawal very difficult and increases the chances of relapse. Along with addiction, comes many different psychiatric disorders. Other mental disorders include increased substance use, depression, and anxiety. Due to the impairment of cognitive function, marijuana greatly impacts the education of adolescents. Marijuana significantly reduces cognitive function, not only during intoxication, but for several days after. Over sixty-five percent of grade twelve high schoolers throughout Canada have reported daily or near-daily marijuana use. There are also relations between high school dropouts and frequent marijuana use, due to a lack of motivation (Williams, 2014). Along with cognitive function, long-term marijuana use results in impaired memory and attention spans. The three main factors that affect the potential diagnoses of psychiatric disorders are the amount of marijuana, the age of first use, and the genetic vulnerability. Although mental illnesses do not usually result in casualties, they dramatically impact the lives of diagnosed individuals and result in many hardships for them and their loved ones.
There is usually a confusion between mental and social health. Mental health refers to the emotional and psychological state while social health refers to how an individual feels and interacts with others (Greenberg, 2004). Communication has always been a primal need for societies to function properly. With the increased rate of marijuana use, the social health of users has substantially dropped. For example, marijuana has an adverse effect on the intimate relationships of others. Individuals in their late twenties that frequently use marijuana report poorer relationship status and intimacy. They are also more likely to get into more hostile arguments and usually separation by their late twenties. Frequent marijuana use clearly illustrates trends of separation or divorce and decreased social health. Cannabis can affect social health in ways other than intimate relationships. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a severe and intense phobia of being negatively evaluated, judged, or rejected in public. Symptoms usually begin whenever individuals are targeted or stand out in public. Symptoms include rapid heart rate, sweating, trembling, and lightheadedness (Buckner et al., 2005). Among those who suffer from social anxiety disorder, the prevalence of problematic cannabis use is twenty-nine percent. This rate of cannabis dependence was the highest with social anxiety, relative to any other anxiety disorder, such as general anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder (PD) (Buckner et al., 2005). Due to high cannabis usage, individuals are suffering from social anxiety disorder which greatly damages social health. In addition, there are less severe social consequences to marijuana use such as body odor, the disapproval of family and friends, and a lack of motivation. The lack of motivation caused by marijuana use goes hand in hand with the high dropout rates of adolescents in high school. Communication within society is an essential aspect of life and must be well maintained by each individual. Therefore, the abusive use of marijuana works against society, by negatively affecting social health.
Ever since the legalization of marijuana, criminal rates of assault, homicide, and intoxicated diving have spiked. Before legalization, it was said that legalization would eliminate violence from the illicit underground market (Johnson, 2019). Recent crime statistics reveal a spike in marijuana-related homicides throughout Canada. These statistics were also clear in pro-marijuana districts in the United States such as Columbia and Denver (Johnson, 2019). The legalization of marijuana is causing a resurgence of violence. Increased violence rates are also being noticed in schools as well. Cannabis use in teenagers has been linked to violence between peers in school. Usually, the individual that, is either intoxicated or has smoked in the past few days, will participate in bullying and cause physical harm to the victim. If both peers have been recently exposed to marijuana, there is a likely chance of a violent fight to occur. These instances can cause more teenagers to in contact with the law and potentially be sentenced to juvenile detention. In addition, the rates of cannabis-related driving crashes spiked as well. Studies show that before the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2018, the rate of marijuana-related car crashes was under seventeen percent. After legalization, these rates shot up to twenty-four percent. The total deaths caused by car crashes in Canada last year was about three thousand. One and a half thousand of those deaths were the result of impaired driving. Ever since the legalization of marijuana, the rates of violence and car crash deaths have significantly increased.
The heavy use of cannabis destroys all the healthy aspects of life, ultimately ruining life itself. This can be seen through the many physical effects is has. Marijuana progressively degrades essential body systems like the brain and lungs. It also directly leads to many mental illnesses which eventually conflicts with social life as well. Healthy relationships and personal motivation are also ruined by an excess use of marijuana. In general, marijuana usage has been linked to a greater need for socioeconomic assistance, unemployment, lower income, criminal activity, and lower satisfaction with life.
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