The oldest cultivated crop in the human history was Cannabis. Cannabis originated in Ancient China in the Tian Shan mountain ranges. It was found in the burial sites of Siberia and China as early as 2500 B.C. This crop spread from China to Korea and then to India. It was in India that it was used widely as a herb to relieve anxiety. From the Asian continent, it spread to Europe and other parts of the world. It was widely used for its medicinal properties. Vikings, Germans, Chinese, Indians used it to relieve pain during childbirth, for epileptic conditions, to alleviate tooth pain.
About Cannabis plant
- Cannabis is called by many names: pot, marijuana, ganja, yarndi, hash, dope, choof, bhang, puff, gear, hash, hashish, weed.
- It is a flowering plant that can grow to a height of five meters. The leaves of the plant are jagged that branch into five or seven fingers. The dried parts of the plant are smoked through pipes or in joints.
- Subspecies of cannabis plant:
Cannabis sativa is the commonly used drug called by the name `Marijuana` and is known for its psychoactive properties produced by the compound THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).
Cannabis sativa L is called hemp and does not have psychoactive properties. Hemp is used to manufacture oil, ropes, cloth.
How cannabis is used?
The dried cannabis resin is called hashish which is mixed with tobacco and smoked. It is also mixed in foods and baked. They are called hashish cakes.
Strong forms of cannabis are sinsemilla and skunk contain higher percentages of THC. They are stronger than the other herbal varieties of cannabis and have a powerful effect on the brain.
Adverse effects of smoking marijuana
- Smoking marijuana can cause addiction. It can impair brain function leading to short term memory loss, affects thinking patterns, and causes poor performance in studies among adolescents. It can cause schizophrenia, where you lose in touch with reality.
- Using marijuana regularly causes changes in the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain – area associated with addiction.
- It can cause heart problems and increase the heart rate causing blood pressure.
- It adversely affects the lungs and leads to chronic bronchitis in marijuana smokers. Prolonged use of marijuana mixed with tobacco can cause lung cancer.
- It causes fertility problems in both men and women.
- Using marijuana affects one`s ability to drive thus causing fatal accidents and deaths.
- Behavioural changes are seen in marijuana smokers making them paranoid, anxious. It induces relaxation and causes sleepiness.
- The smokers of marijuana have mood swings and also sudden laughter and excitement. When taken with alcohol, it makes them dizzy and disoriented.
- They may suffer from memory loss and panic attacks. Many suffer from hallucinations.
Signs of using cannabis
Bloodshot eyes, dry mouth, increased appetite, disinterest in personal hygiene and appearance. They also have burnt fingertips.
Signs of addiction
Smokers of cannabis get angry and irritated if they do not get the drug. They start taking larger amounts than before. They start losing interest in other normal activities.
Cannabis and Law
Possession of cannabis is illegal and classified as the class-B drug. If seen with it means you can get arrested.
Cannabis was outlawed in the US in 1937 with the enforcement of Marijuana Tax Act for it potential for abuse and addiction.
Medicinal benefits of Herbal cannabis
- Those with glaucoma benefit with the use of this drug as it helps reduce the intraocular pressure.
- A compound found in marijuana helps fight cancer cells and prevents them from spreading further. It is also helpful to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy as it reduces nausea caused due to the treatment.
- Those with neurological problems like multiple sclerosis suffer due to severe muscle spasms. They find relief through the use of this drug.
- It is used to reduce the symptoms of epilepsy in children.