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Title: Marijuana: Stuff You Might Not Know You Don’t Know
Author: Jennifer James
Publisher: Do It Now Foundation
Publication Date: February 2011
Catalog Number: 151

..This just in…

Sometimes,
all the talk about marijuana can start to sound like
old news, or seem like a television rerun. And
it’s easy to think that you’ve
heard it all before.

That’s
where we come in. Because
this pamphlet isn’t a rerun. It’s more like a “This
just in” bulletin or a special report on one of the channels
we usually channel-surf past on cable, or a really high-number
UHF station on regular TV.

Call
us
THC-TV. Or the Mystery
Channel
.

Because
it does take a lot of detective work to sort out the facts
and the fictions about pot today. And it is a real mystery
why so few people even bother to try.

In
this program — er, pamphlet — we’ll look closely at
the latest
facts about marijuana, and
consider what those facts could mean for you.

Then,
when we’re finished, you’ll be better able to make up your own
mind about marijuana, and have a better idea what to do about
it in your life. Because, like it or not, you will have to do
something about it — one way or another, sooner or later, if
you haven’t had to choose already.

Sound
fair? Cool.

So
stick around. We’ll be right back after these
words


..Meet Marijuana

Over
the years, marijuana has made quite a
name for itself — several
of them, in fact.

It’s
been called everything from
“killer weed” to plain old “weed,”
“pot,” “grass,” “bud,” and “reefer.”

Still,
no matter what you call it, all the names and nicknames refer
to the same thing: the flowering tops and leaves of a plant known
scientifically as
cannabis.

It
grows naturally all over the world (except places like
Death
Valley

and the
North
Pole
),
and it’s been used for centuries to make
everything from bird seed to rope.

But
that’s not the reason it’s so well-known.

The
reason that marijuana is so talked-about today (and the reason
we’re talking about it at all) is because it contains a mind-altering
drug known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or
THC.

In
fact, marijuana plants are like little green factories that churn
out THC all day, every day.

And
if they didn’t, nothing else would.

Because THC
is produced in only one place in all of nature: in the
flowers and leaves of cannabis.

Still,
just because THC is the chemical that causes most of the drug
effects of marijuana, that doesn’t mean it’s the only one. In
fact, marijuana smoke is made up of at least 420 different chemicals.

Even
scientists who study it full-time aren’t sure of all the ways
all those chemicals affect the mind and body. Still, they keep
at it, anyway.

In
the process, they’ve blown away a lot of the
myths (and the smoke) that’s
swirled around marijuana for centuries.

And
now that things are finally starting to clear, we’re ready to
move in for a closer look — after this break.

Just
don’t touch that dial! (Or even
this
remote
!)


..Tricks & THC

If
you want to imagine
THC
in action
,
you have to start by thinking small.

That’s
the way it is, anyway, when it enters the body as tiny particles
in marijuana smoke, mixing with oxygen in the lungs, where tiny
blood vessels (called capillaries) pull it into the bloodstream.

From
there, THC gets shuttled to more places than a Salesman-of-the-Year
with frequent-flyer miles — moving to every part of the body,
doing different things in different places.

In
the
brain, THC hooks up with some
of the
electrochemical
circuits

that direct the way we think and feel.

Some
people like these changes, but others — especially
inexperienced
users

and
older
people

— sometimes find being stoned confusing or scary.

Why?
No one knows for sure. It probably has a lot to do with how fast
THC goes to work and how different people experience and interpret
all the effects it produces in all of the body systems it works
on.

Still,
there are universal effects, things that happen to everyone who
smokes marijuana.

One
effect that seems to hit everyone equally is a distorted sense
of
time
perception
.Things
that ordinarily seem to pass by in a couple of minutes may seem
to take hours.That may be one of the reasons why pot smokers
sometimes find it hard to concentrate.

Memory
is also affected, which means that doing even simple things,
like following instructions (or the plot of a “Gilligan’s
Island” rerun on good old
THC-TV), can start to seem awfully complicated.

And
if remembering simple things gets complicated, just imagine how
hard it gets remembering seriously complex stuff — like the
answers to the exam or quiz you thought you studied for the night
before.

No
big deal, though, of course — not to the
serious stoner, caught up in the throws
of true, pot-assisted pretzel logic.

Because,
hey — you know, even if you fail all your exams this year, you
can still take them all over again next year.

True?
True?

Hey,
you gonna eat those
chips?


..Pot Luck

As
it trucks around the bloodstream, THC does more than play tricks
on the brain. It puts the body through a lot of changes, too
— and they may last a lot longer than you might think.

That’s
because some of the chemicals in pot stay inside the body and
brain long after drug effects wear off. In fact, some hang around
for weeks after use.

Nobody’s
sure how big a deal that is, but we do know that some measurable
problems have been noted in physical and mental skills as long
as 24 hours after smoking.

Still,
a lot is known about some immediate effects in the body, including
increases in both
heart
rate

and breathing.

And
although these changes don’t seem particularly risky for healthy
people, they can be a bigger problem for those with heart or
lung disease.

There
may be even more problems in other parts of the body — the immune
system, for example. Problems here could make it tougher to fight
off colds and infections.

There
are also changes in body chemicals called hormones, which direct
how fast and how much your body changes and develops as you grow
up.

And
the latest news from the
lungs seems even worse.

In
fact, marijuana seems just as harmful to the lungs as tobacco.
And for people who smoke pot and cigarettes, the chances
of getting cancer later in life are higher, still.

Why
did you think they called it getting
high, anyway?


..Sign Off

In
spite of all the new facts we’ve bumped up against in preparing
this report, one old fact about marijuana hasn’t changed much,
at all: It’s still
against
the law

in most places — especially at school.

When
you add that to its other risks, you may just come to the same
conclusion that
millions
of other people

have come to: that pot’s more of a risk than it’s worth.

And
while we still don’t know everything there is to know about it (Heck,
we don’t know everything about air or water,
for that matter), we know enough to safely say that a lot of
people — including kids, pregnant women, and
people with emotional
problems

— are better off as far away from it as possible.

That’s
the
word
from our sponsor

that we promised a while back. Because the fact is you really
do only have one body — and the healthier you keep it, the better
it’ll take care of you and the happier you’ll be.

And
when you stop and think about it, isn’t
happiness what it’s all supposed
to be about in the first place?


This is one in a series of publications
on drugs, behavior, and health published by Do It Now Foundation.
Please call or write for a complete list of available titles,
or check us out online at
www.doitnow.org.


 

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