More adults over age 26 are using marijuana in Oregon than in any other part of the country. Since recreational marijuana was officially legalized in 2015, marijuana use has been climbing at a rate above that of the national average. Legalization has ushered in a wave of users who downplay the negative effects of the drug or deny them altogether. This relaxed attitude is especially prominent among teens who are now using marijuana more than smoking cigarettes.
Using marijuana inflicts physical and psychological effects on the body. Physical effects are more prominent in users who smoke the drug, while psychological effects such as paranoia, depression, anxiety, panic, altered perceptions of time and self, mood swings, hallucinations, and obstructed thinking and problem solving are common consequences of both smoking and ingesting the drug.
The three most common methods to use marijuana include smoking, vaping, and eating it. Each of these methods has its purpose, upsides, and downsides.
Of all users surveyed in the 2016 Marijuana Report released by the Oregon Health Authority to study the use, attitudes, and health effects of marijuana in the state, 89% reported smoking it. Smoking marijuana is the easiest and cheapest method, as there is no time required to prepare an edible or funds necessary to purchase high-tech electronic smoking equipment.
Smoking marijuana delivers a fast punch of THC straight to the bloodstream, which gets to the brain and other organs quickly. Within minutes the average user can experience a high for up to 3 hours. Short-term effects include altered senses like seeing brighter colors, impaired body functions, memory, and sense of time passing.
For up to three hours after a joint is smoked, users also experience an elevated heart rate, difficulty breathing (due to the toxic nature of the carcinogens released when the plant is burned), and a slow reaction time. Much like tobacco smokers, pot smokers are more vulnerable to infections in their lungs and more susceptible to fits of coughing and phlegm. Another physical effect present in males is reduced sperm count.
Among youth Oregonians, 9% of 8th graders and 19% of 11th graders report current marijuana use in 2015, comparable to national use patterns. When it comes to teenagers whose brains are still developing, marijuana can have more harmful long-term effects.
The psychological effects of smoking a marijuana cigarette are equivalent to the effects of vaping, or using a special device called a vape pen or portable vaporizer. The biggest difference between vaping and smoking pot is the health benefits of cutting out all the toxins. Vaping is a much healthier way to get high, if you are so inclined. Inserting raw cannabis or THC oil into a vape pen or plug-in device heats the substance just enough to transform it into vapor, and thus only vapor is inhaled. It works well for recreational use because the effects happen just as quickly as smoking it, although many people use it for medicinal purposes as well. Vaping does not reduce the potential to become dependent on marijuana nor does it lessen the psychological effects. Approximately 14% of users surveyed in the study reported vaping marijuana.
Many marijuana users ingest the THC in the foods they eat, from cookies and brownies to pizza and even THC gummies. Edible marijuana delivers a much more concentrated high that lasts several hours and thus works well to relieve symptoms associated with chronic pain, cancer, and epilepsy. Approximately 27% of users reported ingesting marijuana in some form “recently” or within the last 30 days.
Edible pot creates a stronger and longer-lasting high because of the way the THC is absorbed by the body. When it is ingested, the THC passes through the gastrointestinal tract and is then processed by the liver which converts it from the delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol to 11-hydroxy-Tetrahydrocannabinol, which can pass through the blood-brain barrier faster and with heightened psychological effect. Effects are felt within 45 minutes to an hour and a half after the marijuana is ingested and can persist for 6-10 hours! It is definitely not the best choice for recreation and should be consumed when there are no obligations present.
How familiar are users with Oregon’s usage laws?
As it turns out, in that very same 2016 Marijuana Report, most Oregonians know the basics about marijuana legislation. About 61% surveyed were aware that it is legal for anyone 21 or older to consume cannabis and 59% knew that it is only legal in private spaces. Three in four adults knew that driving high increases the risk of a car accident in Oregon, but 63% did not know when it is legal to drive after using marijuana.
Unlike Washington and Colorado, Oregon does not have a specific figure against which law enforcement can measure those who are suspected of driving while high. This is due to the complex nature of THC and the fact that such a guideline has only caused more issues than it seeks to solve in Washington and Colorado courts. In Oregon, impairment is impairment at any level. If you have been hurt as the result of a drunk, high, or just plain careless driver, Attorney Richard Rizk is at your service. Call (503) 245-5677 for a free consultation.