What Is Cannabis and Why Is Cannabis Usage Termed as Abuse?

Author: Alexander Salerno, MD
December 27, 2019

Marijuana, which is the popular term for cannabis, is a form of drug that comes from the plant cannabis sativa or the hemp plant. A drug is a substance that, when ingested, causes an alteration in the functioning of the body, either a physical change or a psychological change. Some of these drugs are legal whereas many are illegal. Cannabis is one such drug that is illegal in most parts of the world. Cannabis is often referred to as weed, pot, or hash and is ingested via a smoke or can be mixed into a drink. It can also be baked into foods and thus eaten. The effects after taking the drug are feelings of excitement, happiness, and a general high, and these are usually felt right after ingesting the drug and last up to 3 to 4 hours, depending on how the drug was consumed, that is—either eaten or smoked.

Drug use is often under scrutiny and illegal as well because of the ill effects that it has on the body. Usage of drugs over a period of time has short-term as well as long-term effects on the body. The effects might vary depending on the person’s age, health, fitness, gender, diet, mood, and physical size. It also depends on the kind of drug ingested and its quantity as well as purity.

The effects may include aggressiveness, anger, depression, feelings of being unmotivated, sleepiness, anxiousness, talkativeness, and feelings of paranoia. Emotional and social effects that negatively impact one’s relationship with family and friends are also often observed.

What is cannabis abuse?
The excess use or consumption of cannabis is termed as abuse.

Drug abuse is so termed because it is a patterned use of the substance by the user beyond normal levels, and this excessive usage can have a harmful impact on the user as well as on others. Cannabis abuse is often referred to as a pattern that causes a number of problems, both physical and mental. Often, users get into arguments with family and friends regarding their usage and can feel helpless if they are not experiencing the “high” after using the drug, which is a form of abuse.

What are the effects of cannabis on the body?
Marijuana abuse can affect work or even daily activities, such that one is unable to drive or take care of children, concentrate on work, or one must take leave from work entirely. Driving a vehicle under the influence of cannabis is dangerous for the driver and passengers as well as for those around the vehicle.

The medical effects on the body from cannabis abuse include increased risk of blood vessel disorder and heart disease. One’s immunity is also affected, making the body susceptible to infections and illnesses. The long-term use of cannabis can even increase the risk of developing cancer of the throat and lungs.

Mental illnesses are also more likely, because individuals tend to lose their judgment due to high usage of the drug and can develop schizophrenia, depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Also, chances of injuries increase due to a decrease in judgment.

About Alexander Salerno, MD

Salerno Medical Associates medical practice & founder of Urban Healthcare Initiative Program (UHIP) and Community Healthcare Outreach Program (CHOP) SalernoMedical.com UHIPNJ.org CHOPHealth.com