Psychoactive Drug Research

Consciousness and Altered States Performance Assessment

Drug: Marijuana

Five Facts About Marijuana

  1. It is the most used illegal drug in America.
  2. Marijuana contains over 400 chemicals.
  3. It has been proven that smoking one joint exposes a person to as many chemicals as smoking five cigarettes.
  4. Marijuana is mostly smoked like a cigarette, but other methods include; being cooked into baked goods and eaten, brewed like tea, or the resin from the Cannabis plant (hash) can be smoked in a pipe.
  5. 25 million Americans have smoked Marijuana in the past year.

How Marijuana Effects the Body

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is the name of the chemical in Cannabis sativa that causes an altered state of consciousness. This chemical also known as, THC, replicates a natural transmitter called Anandamides. When marijuana is in a person's body the THC overwhelms brain cells, keeping them working more frequently than usual and causing a distorted perception. Marijuana also effects various parts of the brain and causes raised levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. These raised levels of certain neurotransmitters cause feelings of euphoria, relaxation, lessened sense of pain, and the enhancement of an experience. There are also receptors effected by marijuana that control short term memory, learning, coordination, movement control, and cognitive functions, so these functions may be impaired while a person is high.

Your Brain on Drugs: Marijuana

Short Term Effects of Marijuana

Low-Medium doses of Marijuana can cause these short term effects:

  • relaxation and euphoria
  • reduced coordination/movement control
  • reduced blood pressure
  • sleepiness
  • disruption in attention/short term memory
  • an altered sense of time and space
  • lessened sense of pain

Long Term Effects of Marijuana

The Long Term Effects of Using Marijuana Are Listed Below:

  • Low resistance to common illnesses and colds
  • A suppressed immune system
  • An increase of abnormally structures cells
  • Reduction of males sex hormones
  • Decreased amount of lung fibers
  • Lesions (injury) to the brain
  • Learning difficulties - retain information
  • Sleepiness and lack of motivation
  • Personality changes
  • Inability to comprehend information clearly

News Article - The New York Times Calls for Marijuana Legalization

Article Summary:

This article, written by the editorial board of the New York Times, claims that they see no reason to ban marijuana, in fact they think the United States government should legalize it. The board compares today's recent debate about marijuana legalization to the prohibition in the early 1900's, and argue that the prohibition was lifted and so should the illegal status of marijuana. They go on to argue that the economy would benefit, not only from sales of marijuana, but also from the costs of arresting people in possession of marijuana that exist while it remains illegal. The authors of this article neglect to focus on the health and mental effects of the use of marijuana, and simply say that nothing significant has been proven. In the conclusion, the board writes that the government would be wise to lift the ban on marijuana, although they do not personally foresee the government complying to the idea.


Although the article does expose some good counterarguments that argue why marijuana should be legalized, it does not fairly portray the government's point of view and does not properly explain the serious health and mental effects that marijuana causes.

Works Cited

"Neuroscience for Kids." faculty.washington.edu. Eric H. Chudler, 2010. Web. 14 Dec. 2014.

"The Truth About Marijuana." drugfreeworld. Foundation for a Drug-Free World, n.d. Web.14 Dec. 2014.

"Your Brain on Drugs: Marijuana." youtube.com. youtube, 2 Oct. 2012. Web. 14 Dec. 2014.