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Why marijuana is injurious to health

Saturday, 18 February 2017

By Toye Faleye 

Studies show that the proportion of adolescents steadily using marijuana is roughly 20 per cent as one half the percentage of the 18 to 25-year-olds who used it when it was more popular in the 1960s and 1970s, according to Frank B. Mahon and Judith Mahon, both psychiatrists.

This is not so nowadays that the drug has gained more prominence especially among the youth. Hardly can you trek a few kilometres without your nose being confronted by and stuffed with heavy and ever rising smoke of hemp puffed out from an individual at a hidden corner, under the bridge, at a joint, a pub, or a club house somewhere.

You wonder that despite the legislation against the psychedelic drug, which specifies a measure of punishment for both the sellers and users, and its negative effects on the users, as well as those who perceive the odour, the drug is still being brazenly sold and used.

From the motor parks, bus stations, junctions, joints, under bridges, club houses, to many other hidden arenas, marijuana has gained prominence so much so that it has become difficult to control.   

Pitiably, law enforcement agents also indulge in it according to one observer, who says, “They do not use it indiscriminately like the touts, but smoke it to pep up their body system in order to face the arduous task that confronts them in the discharge of their duties. It might probably look a difficult task, or nerve-racking standing in the sun for many hours, directing the flow of traffic, without pepping up your body with hard substance like marijuana.

“It is also not easy to stand in warfront where bullets are flying up and down, or confront a band of robbers in a gun duel without marijuana to ginger oneself up, the observer adds, pointing out that drug like marijuana would fire you up to face a life-threatening and daunting task,” he says.

People say musicians too do indulge in marijuana, especially those who play Fuji, Juju and Hip Hop genre of music. They say musicians take it so that they can face their audience during concert; hence that musician who gallivants about on the stage must have been under the influence of marijuana.

Many are of the opinion that touts, thugs and miscreants need it to look giddy to be able to extort money from drivers and commercial motorcyclist.

Quite interestingly enough, “it is not only touts, or scallywags, or vagabonds who use it,” a social affair observer says, adding “chief executives, upwardly mobile individuals, and the elite too indulge in it; perhaps to enable them perform some tasks that naturally they might not be able to perform.”

For instance, he says a chief executive, or a manager who has to defend a recent decision he has taken, or confront and convince either the board members, or other executive members during the management meeting may need to pep himself up, knowing full well that lots of intrigues, conspiracy, envy and enmity characterise such meeting.

Many of the chief executive officers resort to taking marijuana to be able to conquer, and dominate others during the meeting. According to him hard drink may not be useful because it may make such a fellow stagger, instead a wee bit of marijuana will do to ensure that he is not marooned, broken down, and subjected to ignominy during the meeting.

Nevertheless, the chief executives take it occasionally, unlike the youth, and other adults who take it indiscriminately as a result of one thing or the other that psychologist classified as peer pressure, hardship, harsh economy, lack of parental care, inferiority complex, and the tendency to want to be seeing as belonging to a class that dominates others.

A tricycle rider, Akeem Alli, attributed the cause to unemployment, idleness and lack of basic amenities that can take the youth away from drugs.

Akeem says, “As I am talking to you now, they are somewhere there smoking Igbo(local name for Indian hemp) (Pointing to a joint located beside a shrine in Akute, Ogun State). You see a lot of boys smoking hemp. They tell you they smoke it so as to do hard things. If the government can help us drive them away we will be happy, but I doubt it because the police too are smoking it,” a view that Mr Ola Omisile, an author, and social worker, who is the Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Association of Social Workers (NASOW) also corroborates, saying the law enforcement agents who should check the smoking of marijuana, and probably punish offenders are either dealing in hemp, or smoking it.

Away from this, studies have shown that marijuana is a drug that distorts or confuses the user’s perception of the world. The users become sleepy, and have a floating feeling. But psychologists say alcohol causes more problems with coordination, and makes people more aggressive than marijuana.

They, however, establish that it is still not safe to perform any task involving coordination when taking this drug. They prove that when experienced pilots took marijuana, and were studied in flight stimulation, the pilots made all kinds of serious errors.

Studies suggest that marijuana reduces the level of male sex hormones in the users, however, not all studies agree with this. Marijuana is also dangerous for pregnant women. Medicine has established that during the first three months of pregnancy, the male foetus’ sex characteristics are developed by these hormones; hence damage to the developing male foetus is possible from using marijuana.

The most dangerous effect of marijuana is on the memory system. While marijuana does not affect long-term memory, it does wipe out the short-term memory storage for a few hours after being taken, so newly learned materials is never transferred, and hence not retained. The consequence is that frequent use of marijuana typically leads to very poor school achievement, as established by psychologists.

Marijuana does not obviously affect those who use it occasionally, but the heavier smokers, as we have in the youth and adult of today, who use it once or more a day, seem to have more than their share of personal problems. Those taking marijuana alone tend to be quiet and depressed, while those using it in groups talk more and are outgoing.

To save the youth who indulge in it and the society at large, Omisile prescribes a way out, saying, “What we can do is teach parents to take care of their children right from childhood. They should be available at home to provide parental care. Effort should be made to encourage absentee parents to stay at home.”

The author adds that the society must go back to communalism, where everybody sees every child as his own child. Any evil is reported, for this is a situation where everybody must pay attention to what goes on around him. They should be on the look out for those selling and smoking Indian hemp.”

Omisile advises that serious advocacy and enlightenment programme must be encouraged to alert the public of the danger inherent in marijuana smoking. He says Lagos State Government has many rehabilitation centres where those with psychosocial behaviour are taken care of.

The three tiers of government need to be up and doing to engage youth in useful activities that can take them away from marijuana and other drugs. 

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