Is Marijuana Usage Detrimental?

I mention marijuana and what do you picture? The typical image of a stoner with heavy lids and a sly smile, unsure of whether the words coming out of your mouth are visual or auditory. Up until recently marijuana was illegal in many places, but with the recent surfacing of marijuana legalization  in different states, there must be some sort of scientific evidence to condone the use of this drug. It’s been told time and time again that used recreationally, it won’t have any negative consequences on the body. The only effect it has is a momentary state marijuanaof bliss. Given that the purpose of drugs is to alter the body in some sort of way, it doesn’t make sense that marijuana won’t have any long-term effects on the body. In a setting such as a college campus, where almost everyone partakes in this recreational activity, is marijuana detrimental to learning?

The main ingredient in a weed concoction is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has been proven to impair a person’s physical abilities and their memory. THC can affect the creation of short-term memories and it alters the ability to recollect thoughts. Meaning, if you’re high, chances are you won’t remember what happened during that time. Also meaning, “I’m so high I can’t remember my name” is a lie. Marijuana DOES NOT induce memory loss. In an academic setting, this would mean that getting high after an intense night of studying won’t make you forget everything you studied. Studying while high, on the other hand, isn’t a very smart thing to do.

Because marijuana stimulates the release of dopamine, it can be easy to see why smoking can go from a once in a while thing to a heavy dependence. Scientists at Columbia University conducted a study with 11 cannabis-dependent adults aged 21-40 (experimental group) and 12 healthy participants (control group). These people were given an oral amphetamine to stimulate dopamine release, which scientists then tracked using a positron emission tomography (PET, tool that scans and tracks a molecule that binds to dopamine receptors) throughout different parts of the brain such as the thalamus and striatum.* After conducting the experiment and analyzing the results, scientists found that marijuana users had lower dopamine release in the striatum, which is important for learning. 

Furthermore, one of the consequences of partaking in the recreational usage of smoking marijuana is that marijuana can be considered a gateway drug to more harmful substances (just like alcohol and cigarettes). This is extremely dangerous in college, where people are in their experimental phase and are susceptible to making harmful choices that mrjna-memeaffect their future professional careers and personal lives. If you’re stressed out over a big assignment, don’t turn to marijuana to soothe your nerves. Chances are you’ll sabotage yourself and mess up that important group presentation that accounted for 30% of your grade. Furthermore, if you plan on learning things for the long-run, frequent usage of marijuana can eventually lead to long-term memory loss. In the end, frequent marijuana usage can lead to addiction and potentially be detrimental to your learning abilities.

*The striatum is a region of the brain associated with movements, behaviors, and learning abilities (memory and attention).

Source 1 Source 2


4 thoughts on “Is Marijuana Usage Detrimental?

  1. Casey Andrew Schaum

    It seems that there is a lot of controversy about marijuana at the moment. While it definitely has its risks, it seems that it also has benefits. It really doesn’t surprise me that marijuana doesn’t help you learn. However, I found a study that sheds some light on how marijuana might not be as detrimental as some think. . Even though the study has a small sample size, they found that marijuana might not impair our cognitive functions like we thought. More studies still need to be done, but maybe marijuana isn’t as bad as we thought. Marijuana can make you think in different ways so is it possible that marijuana could possibly help you learn or figure something out? Maybe it could help you think outside the box and reach a conclusion you didn’t think about before. It is a long stretch but it could be possible. Since many studies are being done on marijuana at the moment, it will be interesting to see what we learn about the plant in the upcoming years.

  2. Ajay Shethna

    Coming from California I have had so much first hand experience with recreational marijuana, almost every kid at my school did it and the first thing anyone would tell me was “Marijuana isn’t harmful for you” but that just simply isn’t true. The distinction is that marijuana is less harmful for you than other drugs and much like other drugs also has medicinal purposes but if used recreationally for the sole purpose of getting high then of course its going to be detrimental. Drugs are substances that alter the natural chemical balance of your body.

  3. Michael Mandarino

    I’ve always heard that marijuana causes memory loss so it’s interesting to see that it actually doesn’t. I did know that less dopamine is produced in your brain as a result of marijuana use, and that’s part of why marijuana is bad for you, but it’s bad for you in the same way that any other substance is bad for you when you use it too much. Even water can be toxic if you drink too much of it in too little of a time period, check that out here:

    Thanks for sharing – this is a very polarizing topic on college campuses so it was interesting to read about it from a student’s perspective

  4. Daniel William Snyder

    This is something I’ve been curious about for a while as many of my friends partake in smoking marijuana, but they always told me it was safe. I also noticed that while they were high they seemed a little less smart so this article gave me some better insight into that. Maybe more questions we should ask is is bad leg term for learning? Does it make you lose brain cells? So we can further understand what this drug does to humans. Here is an article that talks about how marijuana affects IQ.

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