Dr. William Carter answered our questions regarding the effects and legality of marijuana, which is a hot topic in Georgia nowadays.
How would you define marijuana in a very simple way?
It is a substance acquired from the flowers or seeds of a plant called Cannabis sativa. There are two kinds of this plant: male and female. Female one has flowers while male one has only leaves. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or simply THC, which is present in this plant, is what ‘‘makes people high’’ and flowers of Cannabis sativa has the highest content of THC. So, it is harvested more.
What is the main effect of marijuana and how long does it last?
It mainly gives people the feelings of happiness, giddiness; or makes some people paranoid and cause cannabis hallucinations in some others. It does not cause loss of consciousness. As for how long effect of marijuana lasts; it is difficult to give a certain duration but for most people who smoke it, assuming that they smoke a joint, a few puffs of good marijuana would be enough for a few hours.
Does marijuana lead to harder drugs?
In my opinion, no. People can start using even harder drugs without even using marijuana.
Does it cause any life-threatening illness or brain damage?
In young people, marijuana could cause cognitive decline. It could kill someone’s motivation to do things. There is no specific illness I can name, though. When marijuana was made illegal around late 1920s, what they claimed at the time was that marijuana caused reefer madness and that made people commit crimes. However, I think this might have more to do with politics, too, because it was Mexicans who supplied a lot of the marihuana at that time in the United States and this became a good reason to deport them from the country.
Is marijuana more dangerous than tobacco, or cigarettes?
Some people smoke cigarettes for years and do not develop any kind of cancer while some people do not smoke at all in their entire life and come down with lung cancer. Or, smoking could cause COPD, which is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and makes it more difficult to breathe. However, it is difficult to say marijuana would have this kind of effects because people do not smoke it as much as they smoke cigarettes.
What do you think about it being legal?
Marijuana could be used to treat people with chronic pain, namely epilepsy, or people who have glaucoma. Marinol which is tablet form of marijuana, is used for people who have problems with anorexia and to decrease nausea and vomiting from the use of cancer medications. So, I believe it should be legal, i.e., for medical use in Georgia. However, people cannot buy or sell it if they do not have an illness; it is available in tablet forms with prescription. But it is discussed right now in Georgia whether to make it legal to sell and buy marijuana or not. I think buying and selling it should be legal, too. In my opinion, it would stop a lot of crimes on street associated with marijuana being illegal. Plus, the state would make money since it would tax the sales. Also, I would like it to be legal so that I would get me a store (laughs).