California and 12 other states have medical marijuana laws that allow for people, with a doctor's prescription, to use marijuana as a way to relieve pain or calm anxious nerves. Articles previously written by this examiner highlighted how that works.
Yet the negative effects of marijuana are just as real. They may not include making people jump out of windows such as those 1950's scare tactic ads suggested, but there are legitimate mental health concerns with chronic use. This article will discuss how marijuana can induce paranoia and stunt emotional growth. If you are a teenager or parent of a teenager, you might want to read this.
Please note that this author does not condone the use of any substances deemed illegal.
The brain has a section called the Amygdala, which is located in the deep middle of your brain. It's part of a Limbic system, which means it is connected to all of your brain's functions. The Amygdala's main function is to promote emotional growth. It helps you learn when to be happy, when to be sad, when to be afraid, when to be strong, what promotes excitement, what causes anger and even how to control those emotions. The Amygdala uses cannabinoid receptors to transmit those instructions and grow the brain cells by creating memory paths for them. It's just like driving to your house every day. After awhile, your body knows what to do and it seems almost automatic as time goes on.
Whenever marijuana is inhaled, it has an immediate effect on the body. Inhaling bypasses any toxic removal functions as done by the liver and kidneys. Smoke immediately reaches the mind, blasting it with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. When THC reaches the Amygdala, it connects to those cannabinoid receptors and interrupts their transmissions. It can send mixed signals or prevent any signal from being sent at all. A small study showed that chronic marijuana users had smaller Amygdalas than non-chronic users.
Remember, this is all in association with chronic use, not recreational use. Even if you don't believe the science, take a look at the chronic and recreational pot smokers you know. Observe their habits.
With chronic marijuana use, the signals for fear and worry can be tremendously affected. Some studies in adult smokers show that fear is actually reduced. But these adults have fully-formed emotional brains. In brains still learning how emotions work, however, these emotions are stunted and warped. They start to contribute to memories and overthinking. Imagine an immature, emotional feeling of fear inside a mind that's already dealing with trying to avoid getting caught using illegal substances.
So if you are smoking marijuana or considering smoking marijuana, you might want to also consider these risks, especially if you have known mental health disorders.