If you want to know how widespread marijuana use is today, all you need to do is search it on the internet. There are as many or more pros as there are cons. It might be safe to assume that most if not all of these positive blogs or forums for marijuana use were posted by users. Is it possible these blogs serve as defense mechanisms posted while high or in that false sense of well-being that is highly touted as a side effect of marijuana use? These posts may further serve to sway the decisions of young teens surfing the web that are already under pressure from peers to try the drug. Legalization of this mind-altering drug may do nothing more than compound the problem by giving societal rationalization to support the individual rationalization of the recreational marijuana user.
Memory and Emotion
One alarming 2009 statistic from the "National Institute of Drug Abuse" shows that 11.8 percent of eighth graders have used marijuana. This statistic coupled with the increased strength and potency of marijuana since the 1960s should cause society to step back and take a good long look at the effects of marijuana on the developing brain. Those parts of the brain that impact emotion, memory, fear and aggression are all affected by marijuana use. Other research as cited on "CTV News" states that the areas of the brain referred to as the hippocampus and amygdala are both smaller in marijuana uses than in non-users. Other studies show that the prefrontal cortex involved in cognitive thinking and reasoning may be adversely affected with early marijuana use, inhibiting memory and learning. This is particularly true in teens because the prefrontal cortex is the last part of the brain to develop, often not reaching full maturity until the early to mid-20s. According to one New Zealand study, college enrollment and educational attainment were both adversely affected by marijuana use prior to the age of 18.
Mary Cannon of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, based in Dublin, was quoted in an "nzherald.co.nz" article as stating that "Cannabis is part of the cause of schizophrenia." She participated in a New Zealand study regarding the relationship between schizophrenia and marijuana use. According to "Schizophrenia.com," a study of Swedish army members showed that "â€¦heavy consumers of cannabis at age 18 were over 600% more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia over the next 15 years than those who did not take it." Although marijuana use raises the risk for schizophrenia among all individuals, it appears to substantially increase the risk among those individuals with a tendency to develop the disease.
Marijuana has been shown to decrease testosterone levels in men. Low testosterone levels in some cases may even result in male breast enlargement. Where it decreases testosterone in men, it may increase it in women leading to menstrual irregularities. Marijuana use may also affect sperm motility in men and ovulation in women increasing chances of infertility. Low testosterone levels in boys during puberty may stunt growth, prevent the development of muscle mass and impede normal hair growth. So in answer to Paula Cole's question, "Where is my John Wayne?"-- well, he may have gone up in smoke.
Recreational marijuana users often passionately engage themselves in the medical marijuana debate for the same reason your family pet hangs around the dinner table. One might surmise that as marijuana becomes easier to obtain for the critically ill, some scraps may fall from the table toward legalization for recreational use. This attitude seems to show an unabashed lack of sympathy for the plight of the critically ill, exploiting their illnesses in attempt to gain a legal high.