Cannabis is by far the most widely cultivated, trafficked and abused illicit drug. Cannabis is a generic term used to denote the several psychoactive preparations of the plant Cannabis sativa. The major psychoactive constituent in cannabis is ∆-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). – Dr Dushyant Nadar, Director & Head of Department, Urology & Renal Transplant, Fortis Hospital, Noida shares more information.
The geographical spread of those seizures is also global, covering practically every country of the world. About 147 million people, 2.5 per cent of the world population, consume cannabis (annual prevalence) compared with 0.2% consuming cocaine and 0.2 percent consuming opiates. The use of cannabis can cause some serious side effects.
Acute health effects of cannabis use
Cannabis impairs cognitive development (capabilities of learning), including associative processes. Cannabis impairs psychomotor performance in a wide variety of tasks, such as motor coordination, divided attention, and operative tasks of many types. Human performance on complex machinery can be impaired for as long as 24 hours after smoking as little as 20 mg of THC in cannabis. There is an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents among persons who drive when intoxicated by cannabis.
Chronic health effects of cannabis use
Selective impairment of cognitive functioning which include the organization and integration of complex information involving various mechanisms of attention and memory processes;
Prolonged use may lead to greater impairment, which may not recover with cessation of use, and which could affect daily life functions; Development of a cannabis dependence syndrome characterized by a loss of control over cannabis use is likely in chronic users; Cannabis use can exacerbate schizophrenia in affected individuals; Epithelial injury of the trachea and major bronchi is caused by long-term cannabis smoking; Airway injury, lung inflammation, and impaired pulmonary defense against infection from persistent cannabis consumption over prolonged periods; Heavy cannabis consumption is associated with a higher prevalence of symptoms of chronic bronchitis and a higher incidence of acute bronchitis than in the non-smoking cohort;
Effect of cannabis on male infertility
Infertility affects 10–15% of couples, and it has been estimated that a male factor is responsible in approximately half of these cases. Male infertility is diagnosed with the analysis of several semen parameters, such as the number of total sperm, sperm motility, and percentage of sperm cells with a normal morphology. It is known that marijuana, the commonest recreational drug of abuse, has adverse effects on male reproductive physiology. Its use is associated with impotence, decreased testosterone plasma level, impairment of spermatogenesis, production of spermatozoa with abnormal morphology, reduction of sperm motility and viability and, more recently, with the occurrence of non-seminoma germ cell tumors.
The biological mechanisms by which marijuana affects semen quality and hormone levels are not fully known. The active component of cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), binds to the human cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found in the anterior pituitary but have also been identified in the testis, vas deferens, and human sperm cells, leading to a dose-dependent decreased sperm motility and decreased mitochondrial activity in spermatozoa when activated.
This makes it possible for marijuana to affect hormone levels and spermatogenesis, as well as the mature sperm cells. A study found that men who used marijuana have an unhealthier lifestyle and health behavior, are often smokers, consume more alcohol, had a higher caffeine intake, were more likely to have had a sexually transmitted disease, and were more likely to have used recreational drugs other than marijuana.