Marijuana: only a drug, or something more?

Photo: www.shutterstock.com
Photo: www.shutterstock.com

The main aim of the given analysis is to point out the positive and negative effects that the legalization of marijuana could have, to understand whether marijuana is evil, or everything depends on the type and portion of usage, resting upon the international experience and the opinions of Armenian specialists.

Marijuana

Marijuana (the official name is cannabis) is a psychoactive drug made from the cannabis plant. Those substances (caffeine, cocaine, morphine and so on) which somehow influence the central neural system are called psychoactive. The negative influence of marijuana on the human organism is conditioned by cannabinoids included in cannabis plant.

Marijuana is used in two main spheres. Firstly, it is a psychotropic and dopey substance. The second sphere of using the substance is medicine.

Marijuana as a drug

Marijuana as a drug has several ways of usage. The most widespread one is tobacco. For example, the smoking of cannabis is as widespread and common in Bangladesh as a cup of beer in European countries[i]. Besides smoking, it is also common to eat marijuana. It is added as an ingredient to candy, and the doping effects appear after 40-60 minutes. In case of eating the plant the intoxication is displeasing and long-lasting. There are coffee-shops in Czech, the Netherlands and in other marijuana-tolerant countries, where some amount of cannabis is sold for personal usage. It is sold in the form of plant or candy. Coffee-shops are to preserve some rules, for example, not to sell drugs that could have bad effects (heroin, cocaine), not to sell drugs to teenagers or more than five grams.

As a result of short-term usage of marijuana as a drug eyes become red, limbs tremble, and the appetite increases.  Beside the physical effects, people appear in the state of euphoria and become more sleepy. Those people who have used cannabis notice details more quickly and become more sensitive to external stimuli.

In case of long-term usage the memory deteriorates. The abuse of cannabis during pregnancy can bring about such problems as hyperactivity, decreased mental and concentration abilities of the baby. The addiction after long term usage is of psychological, not physiological character. The drastic increase in portion and the refusal of cannabis can result in a set of mental illnesses (psychos, paranoia). In the early 1960-s the long- term effects of cannabis were called a syndrome of motivation loss, which is characterized by indifference, the absence of wishes and the interests in problems and objectives.

The researches had an opinion that marijuana can result in cancer. On May 23, 2006 David Geffen, the professor of medical school Donald Tashkin, proved that the usage of cannabis as a drug cannot result in cancer of lungs, brain and other organs. Cannabis is much safer than tobacco which is freely sold all over the world. The above-mentioned is proved by the results of research made in New Zealand published in 2016, which have lasted for 20 years[ii].

The usage of Marijuana in medicine

The application of marijuana in medicine has begun since the A.D. 18-th century[iii]. It was used in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, being one of the powerful painkillers. It was the only remedy for pathological nausea[iv] as well as epilepsy. Modern medicine uses marijuana as a means of fighting against the following diseases.

  1. Cancer, glaucoma and depression[v]
  2. AIDS[vi]
  3. Neural anorexia. In case of the absence of appetite cannabis is used an appetizing measure
  4. Asthma (this method was widely used in the 19-th century)
  5. Severe migraine and regular headaches

Cannabis has also still understudied sides, for example, the antibiotic feature of marijuana which was studied in Czech in 1949-1961 last time. Marijuana can also ease such severe and incurable illnesses as the Parkinson disease.

The legal status of marijuana

The issue of the legal status of marijuana is regulated by laws referring not only to the usage and permitted amounts but also the preservation, sale, growing and so on. The legal status of marijuana has a clear definition, because it contains psychoactive substances which can be converted to a drug if being processed. Those parts of cannabis which are impossible to be converted to drugs are being sold freely, for example, seeds, threads and so on.

Nowadays in the majority of countries marijuana is forbidden, however, there are countries where it has a legal status. In some countries it is totally legal, but in others the sale for personal usage is permitted.

Uruguay is the first country to give cannabis a legal status. The state is entitled with the right to sell marijuana, and only adults can obtain it if registered in the base beforehand.

Marijuana is partially legal in the Netherlands, Canada, North Korea, Spain, Portugal and so on.

Struggle for the legalization of marijuana

The American NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) is one of the organizations struggling for the legalization of marijuana. NORML members think that the usage or giving up marijuana should be based on the choice of individuals, as in case of alcohol and tobacco. Although the members are for the legalization and struggle for it, they accept that after gaining legal status marijuana should not be advertised, be sold to teenagers or used in public places. These processes should be controlled by the authorities.

The positive sides of legalizing marijuana

The legalization of cannabis has positive sides, about which it is spoken less than negative ones. We attempt to analyze the positive sides the given process may have:

  1. However odd it seems, the threads made from cannabis can be useful in the sphere of mechanical engineering. They are very soft and durable. The machines made from cannabis have the same velocity as the machines made from other substances. The author of the idea is American entrepreneur Bryus Ditce[vii]
  2. After the legalization, marijuana will be studied more thoroughly for medical application.
  3. The society will stop having stereotypes about marijuana because it would be available and people would understand that it is not as harmful as alcohol or tobacco, which are accepted.
  4. The state would control the production of marijuana, accordingly there would be more working places and it would become easier to fight against abuses.
  5. The paper made from cannabis is thicker and more practical for usage than the paper made from tree. In case of legalizing and using it in the sphere of industry we would avoid a part of deforestation.

The negative sides of the legalization of marijuana                                                  

The negative sides are spoken about much more, which has objective reasons. In the scope of anti-marijuana struggle it is impossible not to touch upon the influence that marijuana has on the human mental health. If the aim of state’s anti-drug policy is to reduce the application of drugs, so no matter the medical, industrial and entertainment sides, the marijuana will be presented in a bad light. Now we are going to reveal the negative effects that the legalization of cannabis could have.

  1. In case of legalizing marijuana the number of users would increase, and there is no guarantee that they will not become long-term users, and the application of marijuana for a long time brings about many mental diseases.
  2. It would become very difficult to keep away the teenagers from drugs.
  3. The number of crimes would increase because people would try to find money
  4. to buy marijuana.
  5. Drugs would become more available. The fact that a new struggle for the legalization of other types of drugs would emerge, is not excluded.
  6. After the legalization of one type of drug it would become difficult to shape bad opinion on drugs among children.

The opinions of Armenian Experts

After figuring out the status of marijuana in the world let us speak about the Armenian reality. The usage of drugs without the permission of doctor in Armenia is punished by fine (maximum 200000 drams) or detainment (maximum 2 months). What is the position of Armenian doctors and scientists on the legalization of marijuana?

According to Ruzanna Sadoyan, doctor of biological sciences, as almost any plant, cannabis and marijuana made from it, have positive sides, because they ease the pain and positively influence in case of epilepsy. She also underscored that although it results in less physiological addiction than alcohol, the legalization of marijuana in Armenia would make a fuss. Teenagers will attempt to obtain marijuana by any means. 13-16 years old children, particularly boys, smoke not realizing the harm that they pose their organism, so in case of legal cannabis why would they refuse drugs?

Academic Ruben Harutyunyan noted that it is possible to get acquainted with the positive and negative sides in professional literature, and the issue of mentality is more important. “A person who has used alcohol only once hardly would be labeled as alcoholic by the community, but try to speak on marijuana with people of mediocre intellectual level, and you will be called drug user without even comparing the influence of marijuana and alcohol”. As mentioned by Ms. Harutyunyan, in case of current situation in Armenia the legalization of marijuana will result in social controversies, destabilization, which is not so necessary for us.

Alienist Gerasim Vardanyan, who has worked with addicts a lot, noted that he is against the legalization of marijuana in Armenia. He mentioned the fact that most people compare it with alcohol but alcohol does not result in not so many mental illnesses. The number of psychoses is bigger in case of marijuana. If we speak about marijuana, the bad mental condition is a result of regular usage, but in case of alcohol the intoxication emerges because of one-time usage. The illnesses are the following: hashish psychos, change of personality, disorder of behavior. They are likely to be cured only by the professional help of alienists and psychologist. Armenian society is not organized enough for the legalization of cannabis. The youth would be affected and they would do anything to procure marijuana. The doctor also mentioned that it is wrong to compare Armenia with the European countries because the level of life there is high and the mentality is different. Currently the difficult availability of marijuana is a peculiar filter.

Psychologist Qristine Baghyan is also against the legalization of marijuana in Armenia. According to her, marijuana is a means of avoiding reality. It is not about experimenting for one or two times motivated by youth interests, but a chronic situation. Ms. Qristine also mentioned that it is not intrinsic to strong person to evade reality, to conduct ostrich policy when facing difficulties or hiding behind drugs. Marijuana is the initial step which can subsequently outgrow to an addiction.

Summary

As a drug marijuana is safer than any other representatives of the mentioned class. It hardly results in sharp physiological addiction and in case of short-term application it can have irreversible effects on rare occasions only. Besides being a drug, cannabis is also a medical treatment having ancient roots. One can notice that it influences not the concrete type of illness (mental problems, cancer), but has myriad manifestations.  Sometimes the existent stereotypes impede us to view the plant as not only a drug, but also a progressive means for incurable or almost incurable illnesses. So, the labeling of cannabis as evil is not a proper decision. The legalization of marijuana has both positive and negative sides. In case of huge apparatus of control it would not have irreversible effects. The reputation of “banned fruit” and attractiveness of marijuana can gradually abolish. The main reason for not legalizing marijuana in Armenia is mentality, not the negative influence of cannabis.


  1. Ланге Н. Н. О действии гашиша (Психологическая заметка)
  2. Leslie A. King (2009). Forensic Chemistry of Substance Misuse: A Guide to Drug Control
  3. Mahmoud A. ElSohly (2007). Marijuana and the Cannabinoids
  4. Maternal smoking, drinking or cannabis use during pregnancy and neurobehavioral and cognitive functioning in human offspring .Huizink AC, Mulder EJ.


[i] http://www.marijuanatravels.com/countries/bgd

[ii] Associations Between Cannabis Use and Physical Health Problems in Early Midlife. A Longitudinal Comparison of Persistent Cannabis vs Tobacco Users.

Madeline H. Meier, PhD; Avshalom Caspi, PhD; Magdalena Cerdá, DrPH

[iii] Проблема марихуаны: очевидное и неясное

Доклад А. Г. Данилина на семинаре ECAD

[iv] Pathological nausea is typical for foodborne and other types of intoxication, brain injury, infections and so on.

[v] http://dislife.ru/articles/view/11945

[vi] «The pharmacologic and clinical effects of medical cannabis»

Borgelt LM, Franson KL, Nussbaum AM, Wang GS .

[vii] http://ruhemp.com/facts/iz-avtomobil-konopli/


Author: Lusine Hovhannisyan. © All rights are reserved.

Translator: Khachik Makyan.


 

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