MARIJUANA CAUSES LONG-TERM EFFECTS
By: Amanda Mqadi
There are a number of myths about marijuana. This drug is also known as weed, herb, pot, grass, ganja, and a vast number of other slang terms. It is a mixture of dried, shredded leaves
and flowers of Cannabis. Some users smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints; many use pipes, water pipe, or marijuana cigars called blunts (often made by slicing open cigars and replacing some or all of the tobacco with marijuana).
Xolile Yeni, a nurse at the KwaMashu Poly Clinic suggests it’s important to look at the facts to avoid risks.
While alcohol remains the most widely used and abused drug, according to Yeni, marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug among the youth and the number of students using
marijuana nationally has increased in recent years.
Yeni says that myths regarding marijuana from users is that it is harmless, but the fact is the use of the drug can cause significant health, safety, social and learning problems.
“Short-term effects of marijuana use includes anxiety, memory loss and trouble thinking and concentrating,” adds Yeni.
She highlights that students who use marijuana frequently have reported increased memory loss, missing days of classwork, difficulty sleeping, procrastination and lower productivity.
Yeni says, “Heavy users of marijuana may develop withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, anxiety and difficulty sleeping, when they have not used the drug for a period of time.”
Effects such as these may be especially problematic, as these impairments can lead to poor academic performance. Another common myth used is that marijuana is not addictive.
According to the nurse, research shows that use of marijuana can lead to physical dependence.
A frequent user of marijuana, Sthembelo Zungu (35) says that he has been using marijuana for years and he has never had any side effects.
“Marijuana is a plant and is natural therefore it cannot do any damage to a human being. This is year I mark 15 years of smoking weed and I will never stop because it brings me up when
I’m down. I will stop when I hear of someone who died of smoking weed,” added Zungu.
Zolile Thabethe (22) quit smoking marijuana early this year and says he does not regret it.
“When I used to smoke weed, I had a mentality that it made me wiser but instead I was messing up with my brains,” says Thabethe.
He adds that he noticed this when he started his first year at university. It slowed everything he was doing.
“I usually lost concentration in class, laughed at almost everything with my friends, and my marks started dropping. I knew I had to quit smoking,” explains Thabethe.
Nomvula Zinyanga (19) said that she has tried smoking marijuana once in her life and does not want to do it again.
“The feeling you get is indescribable, I hated it. I started seeing things, acted funny and felt depressed the next minute. When she wanted the feeling to go away, it felt like she was
losing her mind,” says Zinyanga.
While health professionals find challenging the myths related to marijuana is essential in order to provide an accurate view of the harm related to use, some marijuana users find myths
as facts and enjoy the substance.