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Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana, weed or pot affects the brain and how it functions. The potency of weed is directly related to the amount of the active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it contains, which ranges from 1% to 30%. Weed also contains cannabidiol (CBD), which causes psychological effects.

THC is absorbed by the lungs and the bloodstream, then carried throughout the body and stored in body fat. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for THC to be undetected in the bloodstream after marijuana use.

Immediate Effects of Marijuana Use

Short-term effects of weed are felt within a few minutes, sometimes seconds. They peak between 10 and 30 minutes. The immediate effects wear off in 2 to 3 hours. Some of the most common effects include:

  • Immediate physical changes like dizziness, trouble walking, giddiness, bloodshot eyes, trouble remembering
  • Euphoria in most users; someone in a negative frame of mind might experience depression instead of euphoria
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Increased heart rate, sometimes by 50%
  • Chest pain if there is compromised blood supply to the heart
  • Usually lowers blood pressure but can raise it slightly for some
  • Distorted perception of sight, sound, time and touch
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Trouble problem solving
  • Altered color perception due to dilated pupils
  • Extreme hunger or the “munchies,” especially for sweets
  • Problems with memory
  • Difficulty learning

Long-Term Effects of Weed

The long-term effects for chronic users last for days to weeks after the acute effects wear off. They can include:

  • Negatively affects memory, math and verbal skills
  • Alters the areas of the brain that control memory, attention, learning, pleasure and sensory and time perception
  • Long-term use leads to addiction in 9% of all users, 17% of those who start using weed at a young age and 25-50% of daily marijuana users
  • Impacts fertility by lowering male testosterone level as well as sperm count and potency; ovulation cycle is disrupted in women

Health Risks for Users

Immediate and long-term effects include health risk but there are other major health risks including:

  • The risk of having a heart attack is five times higher in the first hour after smoking marijuana
  • Breathing problems like daily coughing and wheezing
  • Increased numbers of respiratory illnesses like the common cold and pneumonia
  • Immune system is compromised and not as effective in fighting against illness

Proposed Benefits

There are proponents to the medical use of marijuana for the following reasons:

  • THC helps nausea and vomiting experienced by patients undergoing cancer treatment
  • THC increases the appetite and helps AIDS patients maintain their weight
  • Marijuana is purported to reduce the feelings of anxiety and depression

Long-Term Dangers of Weed

  • Marijuana contains some of the same cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco, possibly 50-70% higher amounts. Users breathe deeply and hold it longer in the lungs causing major health issues.
  • Marijuana use during pregnancy can harm a developing fetus and also lead to bearing children with behavior problems.
  • The risk of using other drugs like cocaine and alcohol is higher for those who have tried marijuana than those who have not
  • “Burnout” or a dull, inattentive personality is a danger

Marijuana and Pregnancy

Like any drug, extreme caution and consideration should be taken if you’re pregnant and want to smoke pot. It is reported that marijuana can have the following negative effects on babies:

  • Lower birth weight
  • Higher incidence of asthma and likelihood of other physical ailments and diseases
  • Lower IQ and behavioral problems

Just like caffeine and alcohol, pot should be avoided while pregnant as there are no benefits for the fetus, only potentially negative ones.

Eating Weed

Some people do not want to smoke pot but still want to get the effects of marijuana. Another way to ingest MJ is by eating it. Dispensaries sell marijuana-infused cookies, chocolate, candies. etc. A few points about eating marijuana include:

  • Three times more psychoactive than smoking pot
  • Can cause a psychedelic experience
  • Takes affect slower, usually 1 to 2 hours
  • Effects last longer, about 4 hours

Marijuana has many short and long-term effects, which vary from user to user. If taken for medicinal reasons, patients should consult with their doctors so they are aware of side effects and other drug interactions.


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