Historical Consumption of Cannabis
Numerous archaeological excavations and historical records prove that the human consumption of cannabis is not a recent trend. In fact, humans have consumed cannabis as far back as 500 B.C. It is believed that the cannabis plant originated in Central Asia before spreading to Africa, Europe and finally, the Americas.
Inhalation, or what we know now as smoking or vaping, is the oldest method by which humans have consumed cannabis. In 2015, smoking devices which bear close semblance to bongs or smoking pipes were discovered in Russia. These devices have been dated at around 2,400 years old, and are solid gold with residues of cannabis and opium.
Does the Way Cannabis is Consumed Have Any Impact on its Effects?
Nowadays, cannabis is consumed primarily for two purposes; medicinal and recreational. As offered by drugpolicy.org, cannabis can be consumed in four major ways. These ways are;
- Inhalation – This is the most common form of cannabis consumption. There are two main methods of inhalation, namely smoking and vaporising – also known as vaping.
- Orally – Here, cannabis is ingested orally through edibles, oils, capsules and tinctures.
- Sublingually – With this method, cannabis is placed under the tongue and held in the mouth.
- Topically – Here, cannabis preparations are applied and absorbed into the skin.
Each method of cannabis consumption comes with its own unique set of pros and cons. Inhalation, however, outranks all methods of consumptions as the most harmful. From the harmful chemicals released via combustion to the distinctive odour of cannabis, inhalation is one of the most problematic ways to consume cannabis. However, it is also the most popular.
Smoking Cannabis Every Day: the Long-Term Effects of Cannabis Consumption
Cannabis has proven beneficial for the treatment of a number of diseases including chronic pain, mental health disorders and even cancer. Despite the established therapeutic benefits of cannabis, when overused cannabis poses numerous negative health risks. The negative effect of constant cannabis consumption manifests itself in numerous areas including;
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to smoking cannabis every day over the long term is the substances’ effects on memory. The issue of memory stems from the way which cannabis affects the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the region of the human brain which regulates short term memory. Marijuana works by impacting the hippocampus’s ability to develop new memories and learn new things. This affects an individual’s ability to function using short term memory.
A study published in the Hippocampus journal discovered that teenagers who smoked cannabis everyday for three years had ‘abnormally shaped’ hippocampal regions. In long term memory tests, these individuals performed up to 18% worse than those who had never consumed cannabis before.
Another negative effect of smoking marijuana daily is its effects on the heart, and by extension the respiratory system. The smoke released by marijuana when burned contains a number of toxic chemicals including ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can damage the lungs and bronchial passages. Given to this fact, regular marijuana consumers are likely to experience persistent coughs, trouble breathing and excessive phlegm production amongst other problems. As reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the respiratory health of marijuana smokers bears significant resemblance to that of tobacco smokers.
As reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the constant consumption of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can result in heart rhythm disorders and stroke even in young people with no other elevated risk factors for heart disease. This happens as a result of THC hitting the bloodstream after exiting the lungs. Once in the bloodstream, the substance can increase the heart rate by as much as 50 beats per minute. This creates an increased risk for individuals who are already suffering from heart disease.
An Infographic highlighting numerous potential negative effects when cannabis is smoked daily. Source
How Has the Strength of Cannabis Changed Over Time?
As they have for thousands of years, humans continue to consume cannabis today. Modern cannabis, however, seems to boast a higher cannabinoid potency compared to the cannabis produced decades ago.
A study conducted in 2014 corroborates these conclusions. Researchers looked at samples of illegal marijuana obtained by the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration as far back as 20 years ago. On testing samples, it was discovered that the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol – THC – in these samples rose significantly from 4 percent in 1995 to approximately 12 percent in 2014. On the flip side, Cannabidiol – CBD – witnessed a decline between 2001 and 2014. In 2001, strains recorded an average 0.28 percent cannabidiol content whereas in 2014, strains recorded less than 0.15 percent.
The high concentrations of cannabinoids – particularly THC – can be attributed to a number of factors including the evolution of cannabis growing methods since its legalisation in countries around the world. The growth processes of cannabis have changed from what they used to be decades ago. Nowadays, growers experiment with numerous methods which could produce more potent cannabis strains in order to meet the demands of the market.
Every kind of marijuana consumption has a definite set of advantages and disadvantages. Inhalation has proven more harmful but also more popular than the other methods. Individuals who smoke cannabis daily for a long period of time open themselves up to all manner of negative health effects including memory issues and heart conditions. When consuming cannabis, it is advisable to do so in moderation. Moderation could be the difference between a healthy life as a cannabis consumer, and an addiction that could potentially cause problems in the body and mind.