Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis plant. The leaves of the plant are quite distinctive and have been portrayed in many messages – from bumper stickers and drawings to artwork on the sides of vehicles or buildings.
The drug has been the subject of debate for over a century. In 1906, some labeled the plant as poisonous and state restrictions began emerging in the 1920’s followed by the first national regulation in 1937.
The debate about the regulations has reached as high as the United States Supreme Court, which ruled the federal government had the right to regulate the drug.
Today, a number of states have decriminalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes and a few permit its use recreationally.
Although there has been research and information distributed about the potential benefits of the drug, only in recent years have scientists started looking at potential side effects and dangers.
New studies, despite claims that it is not addictive, indicate it is associated with the criteria for substance dependence.
THC, the acronym for Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical compound in cannabis that brings on the “high,” and its use has often been seen as a safe alternative to other recreational drugs with few side effects.
However, in a story in Live Science, a study of more than 38,600 samples of plants seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration found that levels of THC are on the rise.
And, at over 300 percent, that rise is significant.
The argument that the use of marijuana has health benefits isn’t entirely accurate, either.
While the levels of THC have risen, the beneficial ingredient, known as CBD (cannabidiol), has been in a steady fall, sliced almost in half in the past 15 years.
Its legalization in some states doesn’t come with a sticker stating the product is “safe” or “harmless.” Consider tobacco products and alcohol, both of which have warnings associated with them, such as “drink responsibly,” “don’t drink and drive,” and the surgeon general’s warning on cigarette boxes.
Marijuana can increase heart rate and blood pressure, an indication some individuals can be more susceptible to heart attacks and is known to increase the risk of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
These facts were cause for concern at a hospital when an increase in infants testing positive for marijuana was noted. That would be a concern to the parents considering social services could have gotten involved.
Turned out it was a false positive, the result of soap formulas. There was no marijuana in the soap; it was just a matter of how the ingredients worked together.
As legalization gains a head of steam, researchers are looking at the potential side effects of marijuana, not just on the human body, but the landscape.
Grows, legal and illegal, are far from beneficial to the environment. The amount of energy used for indoor grows is massive and the illegal grows on public lands that often garner front-page headlines are detrimental to the land, water, and wildlife.
And it does hit closer to home than some may believe. Illegal grows are often found on public land, and there’s a lot more public land in the west than anywhere else in the nation.
In 2012, 12,556 illegal marijuana plants were seized and destroyed just south of Wikieup, Arizona along the Big Sandy. Large amounts of fertilizer and poisons were used at the site. Carcasses of poached wildlife were found, and the poisons used to kill rodents can result in the death of raptors and other animals that consume the poisoned creatures.
Grows consume a lot of potential wildlife habitat, need to use a lot of a limited water supply and large amounts of fertilizers are not good when it filters into drinking water.
How much land can be consumed? Consider the amount of habitat lost following the largest drug seizure on record: 6.4 million pounds.
For those wishing to learn more, visit only reputable websites, not those that simply confirm existing beliefs.
If you didn’t know, now you do.