University is a time for experimentation, and drugs can be the gateway to new sensations and experiences. Such experimentation, however, comes with both physical and social risks. This is the first in a series of articles on the facts and myths of certain recreational drugs. The Tribune is in no way advocating or dissuading you from trying any of these substances, but merely looking to help you make informed decisions.
According to the United Nations, marijuana is “the most widely used illicit substance in the world.” Although pot is illegal, it is the most easily accessible illegal drug in Montreal.
Cannabis, the plant from which marijuana stems, has a long history of ritual and religious practices due to the state of relaxation it induces. It is thought to have been used as an intoxicant for the first time 5000 years ago in present-day Romania for ritual purposes. It has also been an integral part of Hinduism in India and Nepal for thousands of years.
The physical effects of marijuana on the human body include: reddening of the eyes, decreased intraocular pressure, dryness of the mouth, warm or cold sensations, increased heart rate, muscle relaxation, and lowered blood pressure. The cognitive effects include—but are not limited to—impairments in short-term memory, coordination, and concentration. Beware: not all trips are fun. You may fear you’re being chased by a plastic bag through the streets of Dublin.
While the long-term effects of marijuana are not fully understood, the prolonged use of marijuana can cause damage to the immune system, lungs, and airways, and may result in various cancers. The potency of these effects depends on how the drug is taken: vaporization will cause less detriment to the respiratory system than smoking a joint.
Depending on how you absorb it, the time it takes for marijuana to have an effect on your body will vary. When first experimenting, it may take a large dose for the full effects to be felt. However, this could lead to unpleasant and uncontrollable bodily effects that only go away with time. Mixing the drug with other substances such as Vicodin can cause nausea or more intense short-term effects, and is thus not recommended.
The recreational use of marijuana in Canada is illegal, but it is reasonably socially acceptable and can be easily purchased cheaply throughout the country. A number of other Western countries have similar bans, but do not tolerate use of the drug whatsoever. Some South Asian countries such as Malaysia have been known to even give the death penalty as punishment.