The Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica is an herbaceous flowering plant that has leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds that are dried, which people refer to as Marijuana. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and other similar compounds such as CBD (cannabidiol). The differences between these 2 compounds is that:
- THC is the compound responsible for making the user experience the “high.” Also, THC rich cannabis is mostly used as a recreational drug rather than for medication.
- CBD rich cannabis is harvested from the Cannabis Sativa Strain. This strain is mostly used for its medicinal purposes. However, not all Cannabis plants inhibit CBD; others can cause hallucinogenic effects in the brain and can cause more harm than good in the user.
Why Does Marijuana Stay In Your System For So Long?
According to a Pressley et al., who wrote an article on marijuana use in U.S. teen drivers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported to congress that THC is fat-soluble, has different elimination properties, and behaves very differently in our currently available drug tests than water-soluble alcohol. THC can be stored in fat tissues and released back into the blood up to 30 days post ingestion.
Effects of Marijuana
When a person smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. THC acts on numerous areas in the brain, which is shown in yellow.
Long term effects include brain health, mental health, athletic performance, daily life and a baby’s health and development during pregnancy.
Marijuana and Pregnancy
- Using marijuana during pregnancy may impact your baby’s development.
- About 1 in 20 women in the United States reports using marijuana while pregnant.
- The chemicals in any form of marijuana may be bad for your baby – this includes eating or drinking, creams or lotions applied to skin, smoking, vaping and dabbing.
- Chemicals from marijuana can be passed to your baby through breast milk. THC is stored in fat and is slowly released over time, meaning your baby could still be exposed even after you stop using marijuana. However, data is conflicting.
- The health effects of marijuana exposure during pregnancy and breastfeeding are not certain.
- THC crosses the placenta, enters the fetal brain, and is transferred to newborns through breastmilk.
- Prenatal marijuana exposure is associated with lower birth weight.
- Marijuana use during pregnancy is linked to a higher likelihood of an infant’s being placed in neonatal intensive care, increased startle and tremors, altered sleep patterns, and preterm birth.
Marijuana and Mental Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marijuana use may have a wide range of health effects on the body and brain:
- Cannabis use is associated with the development of schizophrenia and other psychoses (loss of reality). The risk is highest for the most frequent users.
- Heavy cannabis users are more likely to report thoughts of suicide than non-users.
- Long-term cannabis users are more likely to develop social anxiety disorder than non-users.
- Frequent and long-term cannabis use may be linked to worsened symptoms in individuals with bipolar disorder.
Marijuana and Vaping
Vaping marijuana has increased considerably in the past year. Recent reports of lung injury due to the use of e-cigarettes (EVALI – E-cigarette and Vaping Associated Lung Injury) have linked vaping marijuana with lung illnesses.
- As of Nov. 20, 2019, there have been 2,290 reported cases and 47 deaths related to EVALI. Most of these cases (More than 80%), but not all, were from users who reported use of THC vaporizer products.
- The CDC states “it is possible that more than one compound or ingredient could be a cause of lung injury, and evidence is not yet sufficient to rule out contribution of other toxicants.” It continues to advise non-smokers to avoid vaping of any variety and especially products purchased “off the street.”
To learn more about EVALI, read Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products
Marijuana in Nevada
In 2016, Nevadans voted in 2016 to make adult recreational use of cannabis legal in the state. The law went into effect on January 1, 2017.
Now that marijuana is legal for adults in Nevada, there is an imperative to protect both young children and teens from the risks. These risks include:
- Kids potentially accessing marijuana in their own home or the homes of their family or friends
- Kids mistaking marijuana edibles for regular treats
- Teens developing greater interest in trying marijuana
- Children suffering abuse or neglect by adults who abuse marijuana
Everyone has a role to play in keeping kids safe. Explore marijuana in Nevada to learn what you can do, what the state is doing, and what penalties are associated with breaking the laws about marijuana and youth.
Youth Risk Behavior Survey (Nevada)
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is conducted across the state of Nevada every two years. This survey is administered to both middle and high school students and the local data informs decision makers on a variety of issues including substance misuse.
In Clark County, 7.7% of middle school students reported they have used marijuana during the 30 days before the survey. This is a 2.8% increase since 2017 and has been rising since 2015.
As the popularity of vaping grows, in Clark County, 16.9% of high school students reported they have vaporized marijuana during the past 30 days before the survey. This is a 15.1% increase since 2017.
Monitoring the Future Survey (United States)
According to 2019, Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trend Drug Facts, across the country, daily marijuana use increased among 8th and 10th graders. Daily use is defined as use on 20 or more occasions in the past 30 days, while these percentages for each grade level may seem low, they represent an increase of 85.7 percent among 8th graders and 41.2 percent among 10th graders, compared to 2018, a 1-year period.
- Vaping of marijuana on the rise among teens (2019)
- Preventing the Use of Marijuana: Focus on Women and Pregnancy
- Cannabis Use During Pregnancy and Lactation
- Cannabis Use in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: The Pharmacist’s Role
- Is there a link between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders?