Marijuana: The Increasing Deception Behind the “Green” Leaf
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, among other names, is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant. Although recreationally legalized in 15 states, others use it for medicinal purposes only. There is a current “gateway drug” theory involving marijuana, which is thought to lead to the use of and dependence on harder drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, or opioids.
So, here lies the deception of the infamous “green” gateway drug.
Marijuana has become endorsed as a relatively safe drug, getting by solely because of its’ ‘plant-based’ component, but also because there isn’t enough dedicated research on its adverse effects yet. There is an overwhelming stereotype that marijuana is one of the healthier drugs because it does indeed, come from a plant. But this gives the misconception that it’s only beneficial to our health, and we tend to skip over the negative effects that it’s likely to have. Like any substance, it’s not completely understood. The prominent research, though, shows multiple reports and studies that marijuana potency has increased over the past decades, and the addition of harmful chemicals and addictive components have increased as well, such as:
- Lead or other heavy metals
- Fungus and bacteria
- Embalming fluid
- Laundry detergent
Not only are more random chemicals being traced in marijuana, but its own THC potency has also risen from 4% to more than 15% in less than 20 years. Concentrated THC products such as oil, shatter, dab, and edibles have upwards of 95%. As the potency rises, so does the risk of accidental overdose and the development of mental health problems, including suicidality and schizophrenia-like psychotic episodes. Marijuana could be taking a turn for the worse for all its users, particularly those new to marijuana use and young people whose brains are still developing.
The Stress Behind the Plant
The scary part: the lack of health research into marijuana makes it difficult to tell people what you are ingesting, whether you’re consuming it by smoking, using edibles, or taking it in pill form.
The scarier part: marijuana is still illegal under federal law and is classified as a Schedule 1 drug with zero medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. The federal government has strict limits on drug studies, making it hard for researchers to get the support or access needed for extensive analysis. The result is that there is little evidence of marijuana’s effects — good or bad. There are multiple legal hurdles when it comes to studying the effects of marijuana — and that should cause some concern.
Categorized by effects and properties, drugs generally fall into one of four groups:
- Depressants: These are drugs that slow down your brain function.
- Stimulants: These drugs stimulate your mood and increase your alertness and energy. They’re typically highly addictive and can cause paranoia over time.
- Hallucinogens: This drug changes your perception of reality by changing how the nerve cells in your brain communicate.
- Opiates: These are potent painkillers that rapidly induce feelings of euphoria. They’re addictive and can have lasting effects on your brain.
So, where does marijuana fall among these categories? Here’s the scariest part: unfortunately, the answer isn’t apparent, and that’s why this is a problem. Different strains and types of weed can produce different effects, which can vary widely from person to person.
Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health, argued in the New York Times: “Marijuana use is positively correlated with alcohol use and cigarette use, as well as illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine…people who are addicted to marijuana are three times more likely to be addicted to heroin.”
This is why marijuana is known as the “gateway drug.” It opens a door where you may believe there are no significant effects on your health, it’s easier to access than other illegal drugs, and many people are partaking and have been for decades. But, new waves of drugs and harsh chemicals are becoming more prevalent in the dose because growers are cross-breeding plants to create more potent strains. But what else is going into these compounds? Potent cocktails of other highly addictive drugs like fentanyl, meth, cocaine, and heroin, are even more addictive than regular weed—but the chances of addiction increase from laced marijuana. Unfortunately, that also means that those additional addictive components could have the potential to become the first steps of substance abuse in other strong, life-derailing drugs.
Is Marijuana Withdrawal Real?
Whether being used for medical or recreational use, studies show that weed can have an impact on withdrawal, creating symptoms such as:
- Feelings of anger, irritability, and aggressiveness
- Sensations of extreme nervousness or anxiety
- Disturbances with sleep can include insomnia or nightmares
- A decrease in appetite; may or may not be associated with a significant weight loss
- Feelings of restlessness
- Increase in depression
- Physical symptoms such as fever, chills, abdominal pain, sweating, headache, and tremors or shakiness
Like many other drugs, if the body is used to having specific chemicals, it will take some time for the natural receptors to grow back to their baseline levels, causing withdrawal symptoms. This can become exponentially worse if the marijuana is laced with other substances, leading to urges for supplemental drugs because of their addictive qualities.
These withdrawal symptoms can develop into behavioral patterns, making it hard for our brain to cope without them. So whether you’re using weed for recreation, pain, depression, or anxiety – the withdrawal is real, and the lasting effects they have on your body are still relatively unknown – a huge factor when deciding what to introduce to your body.
Addiction Can Happen, Leading to Worse Conditions
Marijuana use directly affects brain function — specifically the parts of the brain responsible for attention, decision-making, coordination, emotions, memory, learning, and reaction time. It is estimated that people who use products with THC have a 10% chance of becoming addicted, and approximately 1 in 11 people who use it become addicted.
When it comes to your brain, behaviorally and developmentally, many of the causes of addiction are:
- Unstable psychiatric symptoms
- Delay discounting
- Environmental exposures
When dealing with any conditions stated above, we know how hard it can be to work through the emotions and behaviors without relying on something else, especially if you feel as if you don’t have a more reliable support system, such as friends or family. Above all else, we know that addiction is very real and dangerous. When smoked or ingested, the effects of cannabis can vary massively – as with most drugs. Marijuana holds a lot of power when it comes to introducing new drugs to its users, especially in the teenage years. The earlier the use of marijuana begins, the higher the chances of other drug use, especially if that person already has addictive personality traits.
Other aspects, such as social environment, are also critical in a person’s risk for experimenting with other drugs. People more vulnerable to drug-taking and addictive patterns are more likely to start with readily available substances such as marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol. If they hang around others who use drugs, this increases their chances of developing unhealthy, destructive patterns further down the road.
Get Help for Marijuana Addiction
If you or a loved one is currently using marijuana or other substances, we can help. Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to admit there is a problem. Or, they may wait until they hit rock bottom. Since drug addiction is a progressive illness, you must address the early signs and symptoms to avoid more long-term and severe damage.
At Discovery Point Retreat near Dallas, Texas, change is always possible with the proper treatment and support. Our dedicated team of doctors, counselors, therapists, and clinical staff work together to build a personalized recovery plan for you. We provide you with the very best care throughout your recovery journey. Click this link to contact us today, or call us at 855-306-8054.Marijuana: The Increasing Deception of the “Green” Leaf