Marijuana ‘high’ more costly today

By Julie Zvitkovits

Marijuana is more harmful today than 30 years ago.

The level of marijuana’s active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), was two-tenths of one percent in the 1960’s, but is now about five percent, according to a 1989 article in the “American Behavioral Scientist.”

The article stated half of the THC consumed in one puff of a marijuana cigarette remains for several weeks and gets trapped in the brain, lungs, liver and reproductive organs.

The strain on the heart and lungs from smoking one marijuana joint is four times greater than from smoking one tobacco cigarette, reported researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1988.

One “toke” of marijuana releases three times more tar than one puff of a cigarette, UCLA researchers said.

Marijuana was smoked daily by 10.3 percent of high school seniors in 1979, but in 1989, the figure dropped to 2.9 percent according to a recent government drug report.

“The infrequent use of marijuana (less than once a week) might not be hazardous, unless a negative reaction occurs,” said Roland E. Herrington in the American Medical Association Journal in 1988.

However, “anxiety, panic, paranoid thinking and immediate recall deficits could result,” Herrington said in the journal. These reactions then produce “halting or blocked speech,” he said.

“Marijuana interferes with immediate memory. Some researchers say it’s the main effect of pot,” said Michael Haines, NIU Health Enhancement Services coordinator.

Marijuana can cause a mild euphoria, drowsiness or nervousness, according to a health services informational flier.

The health flier stated marijuana’s “high” produces a feeling of relaxation and altered perceptions of sight, sound and tastes.

“Your senses are heightened and there is a short-term memory loss,” said Eric Vandergriff, a freshman history major, who said he has experimented with the drug.

“The effects of the drug usually last two to four hours, peaking within 30 minutes,” the flier stated. But hours after it is consumed, marijuana can still impair motor responses, short-term memory and learning ability.

Although reactions vary among users, panic attacks, food cravings and “dry mouth” are often experienced, the flier stated.