Understanding marijuana

While marijuana has been recently linked to IQ loss and kidney failure, it shows no harm to a person’s lungs, according to multiple health articles.

According to a Jan. 1, 2012 Family Patient News Article, 20 years of marijuana smoking doesn’t appear to impair long-term lung function.

“I look at marijuana kind of like an herb,” Birkam Health Center Dr. Susan Davis said. “It’s a natural substance and so I think there may be some benefits in marijuana over other drugs that are not natural. It fits into body receptors better for some people.”

On the other hand, marijuana use beginning in adolescence is associated with a decline in cognitive function, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers found persistent marijuana users lost several IQ points on average between the ages of 13 to 38.

“They lose memory, especially short-term memory,” Davis said. “They don’t seem to be motivated to do anything and that’s what we call a pot head.”

Davis also discussed alternative options for medical marijuana.

“There is medication that can be prescribed that is THC and is called Marinol and there is another one called Cesamet,” Davis said. “Those are both THC products. THC is the component of marijuana people think is the most potent. So, it’s not really marijuana but it’s a drug that derived from cannabinoid type sources.”

Marijuana can also be created synthetically. Synthetic marijuana is also known as “spice” or “K2.”

In 2012, more than 15 cases of acute kidney injury resulted in the use of synthetic marijuana according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An acute kidney injury is an abrupt loss of kidney function that develops within 48 hours.

Within days of using synthetic marijuana, the patients experiencing kidney injury all visited emergency departments complaining of nausea and vomiting, according to a March. 1, 2013 Family Practice News article.

The potency of marijuana has changed exponentially since past decades.

“The marijuana of the 60s is not the marijuana of this century,” Davis said. “It was potent back in the 60s so I can imagine how potent it is now.”

The Director of the Department of Public Safety Bruce Borkovich says potent marijuana is addictive.

On the other hand, Davis said she doesn’t think there can be a true physical addiction to marijuana.

“I think you can get psychologically addicted, but not necessarily physically dependent,” Davis said.

Ferris marketing junior Anders Johnson has known people who have had their careers affected by the use of marijuana.

“Personally, I’m not a fan of [marijuana],” Johnson said. “I think it just causes problems. Plus it smells awful. I definitely think it can ruin a career. I have known some people who have been fired or not received a job because they failed a drug test. It’s just stupid.”

Birkam Health Center wants to know if a student is using marijuana as it can have negative effects on prescriptions.

“It seems to me the public image of marijuana is becoming much more laxed,” Davis said. “Now people are thinking it’s just a recreational thing like drinking.”