mano vicino a fiori di cannabis e barattoli di vetro

What are the risks if I use Cannabis?

Until the 1970s, cannabis was tolerated in Italy, there was no law prohibiting it and it was even smoked as a substitute for tobacco , which at the time was more expensive than grass . As long as marijuana consumption was a limited phenomenon it did not create any problems, but when - in the 1960s and 1960s - it became the symbol of rebellious young people, the government felt the need for a crackdown. Thus it was that Italy went from being the second largest producer of industrial hemp in the world - the main supplier of the English navy - to completely cutting ties with this plant , which was now also a significant item in the national budget. Since it was made illegal and assimilated to other narcotic substances, the debate on cannabis has become increasingly intense, and has reached exorbitant peaks in Italy in the last two years, thanks to the legalization of the so-called cannabis light . We are in the era of legalization: Spain, Canada and the USA have taken a big step, legalizing "traditional" cannabis, but many other countries - including Italy - are starting to take the first steps on the long path towards total legalization . There are certainly risks and we must be careful, especially due to the growing use of chemical substances within the inflorescences which, in countries where the sale of marijuana is not legal, are "peddled" on the black market. It is for these reasons that it would be important to achieve the legalization of cannabis, to make the supply chain completely controlled and controllable , in order to reduce the risks linked to poor quality or chemical modification of the substance. In this article we will see together:

  1. The King's College study
  2. What are the effects of cannabis on the brain?
  3. The effects on memory
  4. Combustion and pulmonary risks
  5. Risks in pregnancy
  6. Cannabis and anxiety

The King's College study

After the legalizations of the USA and Canada, the debate mounted again and many studies aimed at clarifying the topic were presented. The latest was carried out by experts at King's College London who tried to identify the relationships between psychotic manifestations and the consumption of grass with a high THC content . The results of the study – published in Lancet Psychiatry – support that daily intake of THC in large doses can increase the risk of manifesting psychotic tendencies .

Marijuana, by nature, contains less than 10% THC . Today there are many genetics that are modified in the laboratory to enhance their effects, resulting in smoking a very different herb from what the hippies of the 1960s smoked. The joints of the time contained up to 4-5% THC , a light dose to enjoy in company, while today's cannabis reaches even 40-50% THC , with the result of causing completely different effects on the unsuspecting. consumer.

The researchers examined 11 sites between Europe and Brazil and focused on a sample of 900 patients - identified in collaboration with national health services - who had had a first episode of psychosis between 2010 and 2015 . The patients were subjected to a questionnaire, aimed at ascertaining whether and how often they had used narcotics during their life. The analyzes therefore focused on the use of cannabis , and the results were compared with those of a control group made up of 1,237 healthy people, comparable to the sample in terms of age and socio-demographic conditions.

The results have shown that frequency and type of cannabis use are associated with a greater risk of psychiatric problems : smoking joints daily would increase the probability of an episode of psychosis by approximately 3 times, while for daily "high" cannabis consumption power” the risk would jump up 5 times.

According to the study, London and Amsterdam are the places where high-potency cannabis causes the greatest problems: 50% of psychosis cases in the Dutch capital and 30% in the English capital are linked to cannabis with a high THC content . And it is probably no coincidence - the researchers underline - given that in countries such as Italy, Spain or France, cannabis with a content of less than 10% is still quite widespread in the illegal market , while in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom with a high THC content has reigned supreme for years now.

Obviously the study is still at an advanced stage to affirm with certainty the existence of a causal link between high levels of THC and psychosis; it is possible that this is a discomfort associated with cannabis for other reasons, and not strictly due to THC.

“Our results coincide with those of previous research which showed how the use of cannabis with high concentrations of THC has more harmful effects on mental health than less potent varieties,” underlines Di Forti. “These are also the first estimates to indicate how cannabis use might influence the incidence of psychotic disorders at a population level.”

cannabis What are the effects of cannabis on the brain?

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Center for Brain Health showed that smoking marijuana regularly can have effects on brain structure and gray matter volume.

The research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has highlighted the brain differences between habitual marijuana smokers and subjects who have never used it, through the combination of the results of three different brain magnetic resonance imaging techniques, with which brains were compared. Researchers have verified that those who smoke cannabis at least three times a week, for at least ten years and since they were young (starting between the ages of 14 and 30), have on average less gray matter in the area of ​​the orbito-frontal cortex, which is the part associated with decision-making processes, addictions, motivation and learning .

However, according to research, regular cannabis smokers show increased brain connectivity, which is partly able to compensate for the reduction in gray matter volume .

Furthermore, the differences compared to non-smokers would be more marked in subjects who maintained the habit for longer and who, above all, started smoking during adolescence .

Field cultivated with cannabis

The effects on memory

Memory is a complex system, composed of two elements: short-term memory , i.e. the ability to retain information so that it is available for a short period of time (15-30 seconds), and long-term memory. term , which is the ability to store and remember information for longer periods of time.

One of the most obvious effects of cannabis is the influence it has on short-term memory. When you are under the influence of cannabis it becomes more difficult to create new memories, but also to retain important information such as information about the space around you. Short-term memory also allows us to provide immediate responses based on the context : when using marijuana this faculty is partially or completely lost and it becomes difficult to interact, especially in an unfamiliar environment.

Another variation of short-term memory is the so-called working memory , i.e. the ability to respond to stimuli and provide immediate information to external stimuli. Obviously it also depends on the work done, but if timely intervention skills are required, it will be better not to take cannabis.

A 2004 study by researchers at the San Francisco Brain Research Institute and SAM Technology tested the working memory of 10 adults immediately after cannabis use. After consuming cannabis, participants were subjected to a spatial “N-back” test , which required them to examine a series of symbols and images, and identify those that had been shown to them just moments before. The responses of those who had consumed cannabis were recorded as much slower and more inaccurate than those of those who had received a placebo.

The effects of cannabis on our long-term memory, unfortunately, are much more concerning. A 2006 study, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal, found a strong correlation between long-term exposure to marijuana and verbal memory impairment in middle-aged people (between 18 and 30 years old). The study included a sample of more than 5,000 participants and found that long-term marijuana use had a significant impact on verbal memory. On average, for every 5 years of cannabis use, 50% of participants forgot 1 word out of a list of 15 presented to them as part of the test .

High CBD cannabis flower

Combustion and pulmonary risks

Cannabis burns like tobacco and the results of its combustion are also identical. Combustion generates carcinogenic substances that are absorbed by the body; upon burning, cannabis molecules break down and give rise to so-called free radicals , which generate very harmful toxins. Targeted analyzes have shown that the smoke released by joints contains only 10% of cannabinoids , while the remaining part is made up of combustible products, including the so-called PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Vaporization is certainly the best way, both to protect our health and to be sure to take in the greatest quantity of active ingredient possible . With vaporization it is possible to control the temperature to which cannabis is subjected, with the result of saving a large part of cannabinoids and terpenes and not subjecting the body to harmful substances. THC is released by subjecting the inflorescences to a temperature of approximately 157°, with the result that approximately 46% of the substance contained in the vaporized herb is absorbed .

Unlike the smoke released by the joint, the vapor contains approximately 90% cannabinoids and only 10% other substances, which are however less harmful than those generated by combustion at very high temperatures.

Risks in pregnancy

The use of cannabis during pregnancy has been and is the subject of many studies, with which scientists hope to highlight the risks for the fetus and mother linked to taking the substance. A 2014 study analyzed 20,000 cases of anencephaly that occurred between 1997 and 2005 and highlighted that the incidence rate of the pathology was double in mothers who smoked marijuana. Anencephaly is a rare neural tube defect that causes severe brain malformations.

The effects of cannabis on the fetus are so serious that every woman should stop and think carefully before consuming marijuana . It seems that THC interferes in some way with brain development: Canadian research, conducted on 4-year-old children for 10 years, found that the use of cannabis during pregnancy negatively affects memory. Children born to smoking mothers scored lower on memory tests. However, overall their intelligence did not appear to have suffered any damage. When the children were tested again at age 10, they showed a slightly higher rate of hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity.

A 2014 study on laboratory rats showed that exposure to THC in the womb altered connections between brain cells. Other studies have established rather definitively that marijuana can alter human fetal development, especially between the 18th and 22nd weeks of gestation.

Although the evidence regarding the influence of cannabis on the brain development of the fetus is still to be consolidated, US pediatricians are convinced of the need to "advise pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid marijuana", as they already do with smoking and alcoholic beverages. Especially in America, after legalization, many women reported having resorted to cannabis to ease the nausea of ​​the first trimester of pregnancy ; the medical indication therefore concerns both recreational and therapeutic use.

Cannabis and anxiety

Cannabis intake is often associated with anxiety disorders, especially due to the "side" effects of THC.

A study conducted in 2009, called “Social Anxiety Disorder And Marijuana Use Problems: The Mediating Role Of Marijuana Effect Expectancies”, lists various clues linking cannabis to the onset of so-called social anxiety. Social anxiety is the fear of being judged, rejected, and negatively evaluated at social events or gatherings. The definition of social anxiety disorder has changed considerably over time: in the early 20th century it was defined as social phobia or social neurosis.

Subsequently , a distinction was made between generalized anxiety disorder and specific anxiety disorder, before returning to classifying it simply as SAD, or social anxiety disorder.

The researchers concluded that the data collected "strengthens the hypothesis that SAD is linked to problems with marijuana, and offers a clear view of the mechanisms underlying this fragility". The study admits that cannabis use is not usually associated to anxiety disorders in general, however it is hypothesized that "some particular negative feelings might be associated with problems with marijuana, and SAD appears to be one of them."

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