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Published on June 22nd, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie

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The Hidden Dangers Of Cannabis

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Every day hundreds of thousands of people consume cannabis, either through smoking it or in food form. There are many people who champion the cause of marijuana but there is a hidden danger that can have devastating consequences for a certain portion of the population.

Early in the 1990’s psychologists, psychiatrists and mental-health advocates began to wonder if there was a link between taking pot and psychotic illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Several psychologists had noticed that a substantial portion of schizophrenics used to be, or were, active cannabis users.

Finally, a comprehensive study of 50,000 military soldiers in Sweden revealed a clear link between the two. It was found that smoking cannabis doubled a persons chances of developing schizophrenia. More worryingly, if the person smoking marijuana was 16 years of age, or younger, the odds of becoming a schizophrenic was increased five-fold.

No Longer The Drug Of The 1960’s

Cannabis was the drug of choice during the 1960’s. It evoked connotations of freedom, spirituality and sedition in the hippie movement. Users liked the relaxing and tranquil feelings that swept over them when they took the substance.

Hippies In Attendence At Woodstock

However, cannabis today is a very different animal to that of its 60’s cousin. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the part of the drug that gives the high feeling and is now grown in very different concentrations. In the 1960’s, the THC content of pot was between one and three per cent.

Today there are strains of cannabis that have a THC content of up to 23 per cent. So why is that such a bad thing? For the vast majority of people, the increase in THC will have no adverse effects apart from an increased high but for a susceptible portion of the population – the increased levels can cause devastating consequences and psychotic breakdowns.

Medicinal Use For THC

This doesn’t mean that marijuana plants with high THC content should not be grown. It is now known becoming apparent that THC can both prevent and greatly curb the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. The THC found in medicinal cannabis has also being found to reduce memory loss and cognitive impairment by blocking the formation of protein clumps which damage the brain.

Medicinal Marijuana Cannabis Pit

Clearly THC has an important role to play in medicine but the problem is people do not know if taking cannabis with high amounts of the substance will cause psychotic illness.

The Cannabinoids And Brain Development

The human brain, as far as we know, is the most complex organism in the Universe. It has more neurons than the entire sum of the stars in the Universe. This complex and partially understood mechanism can be easily interfered with and damaged.

The cannabinoids are a class of neurotransmitters that assist with passing along information in the brain. The problem for cannabis users is that THC is also a cannabinoid. It is thought that marijuana overloads the endocannabinoid system and this is particularly damaging to young people.

The teenage brain is still developing and as it matures the neural pathways become untangled. Heavy cannabis use during this development period can arrest brain development and cause serious damage.

Schizophrenia And Cannabis Use

Schizophrenia is a complicated disease. There are many factors that may trigger it such as traumatic pregnancies, introspective personalities and cannabis usage. What’s more, the nature of the illness means that you are more likely to become dependant upon cannabis as it offers relief from the anxiety and paranoia that accompany the disorder.

Schizophrenia causes bouts of anxiety and paranoia. Taking cannabis with high THC content, at least in the short term, relieves these anxieties. Nonetheless, after this initial period of calm, the drug worsens the condition. It is this aspect of marijuana that creates a dangerous dependency for schizophrenics and other suffers of psychotic illness.

Cannabis Bud

Cannabis A Cause And Cure For Schizophrenia?

Believe it or not new research suggests that pot may be the best drug to treat schizophrenia. Besides THC, other strains of marijuana also contains another drug called CBD (Cannabidiol). CBD is a highly promising for drug manufacturers.

According, to research by the University Of San Paolo, CBD is an effective anti-psychotic drug.

Nevertheless, the strain of cannabis that produces large quantities of CBD is very different from the plants that are grown for recreational use. These strains contain very little THC and are grown solely for medicinal purposes. Marijuana is either high in THC or CBD, it can be equal as was the case in the 1960’s with low amounts of each, but both cannot have high amounts.

The lives of people who are susceptible to schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses may lay with genetic testing. As many as one in three people are believed to have tried cannabis or pot at least once in their lifetime – this number is unlikely to be reduced in the future and the plant is far too valuable for the medical industry to not be cultivated.

For further information please check the highly informative video The Downside Of High below.


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