The Dangers of Marijuana Essay

2015 Words 9 Pages
Marijuana, Cannabis Sativa, has been used for centuries for its medicinal and euphorant properties, and its fibers, to make hemp cloth and paper. Medicinally, between 1850 and 1942, it was prescribed in the United States Pharmacopeia as a remedy for a variety of ailments including gout, tetanus, depression, and cramps (Farthing 1992). Today, it is used for reducing intraocular pressure due to glaucoma, as an antiemetic to relieve nausea associated with chemotherapy, and as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients. Recreationally, it is the most widely used illicit drug, especially among adolescents.

The main psychoactive component of marijuana is (9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Other prominent cannabinoids include cannabidiol,
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In this paper, my objective is to determine potential chronic effects of marijuana on memory. I do this by selectively reviewing studies on this topic and attempt to integrate the findings, which range from neurobiological standpoints to more general effects on cognitive behavior.

In earlier attempts of finding the cannabinoid receptor, using THC as the ligand proved difficult because of its lipid solubility which cause non-specific, high affinity binding. In Herkenham et al. (1990), they localize cannabinoid receptors (CB1) throughout the brain by using synthesized, radiolabeled CP 55,940, structurally similar to THC, but less hydrophobic and more potent as a cannabinoid receptor ligand. They find high density binding in the cerebellum and basal ganglia (which regulates time perception and coordinated movement), the cerebral cortex (perception and reasoning) and the hippocampus, which is associated with memory. This correlates with marijuana's distortion of these cognitive functions, including memory. The hippocampus, located in the inferior medial temporal lobe, has been shown to be involved with memory through studies with brain-damaged patients such as HM, who, in the extreme case, resulted in having anterograde amnesia (inability to form new long-term memories) due to the removal of the bilateral hippocampus (Gazzaniga et

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