Most people who consume marijuana do so to feel the effects of the plant, whether for medicinal or recreational purposes. Before you smoke cannabis or use it in another way, it is wise to understand how it typically affects the mind and body.
The best-known way in which marijuana affects your body and mind is by creating the psychoactive effects or “high” that cannabis is associated with. THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive ingredient. It stimulates the portion of your brain responsible for responses to pleasure. This releases dopamine, a chemical that produces a feeling of relaxation and euphoria.
When you smoke or vape marijuana, the THC can reach your bloodstream quickly enough that you start noticing this high within minutes or sometimes even seconds. The effects will usually peak in around a half-hour, finally wearing off within one to three hours.
When you consume cannabis via an edible, the effects will take longer to begin and can last for many more hours.
Changes to Thinking
It is also likely for marijuana to affect the way you think, distorting your thoughts. Some of this is frequently desired by those consuming cannabis, while, for others, these effects are less wanted.
You will likely notice a heightening of senses, such as louder sounds and brighter colors. You may also observe a distorted sense of time. You may also see a reduction in inhibitions, increasing your chances of taking risks.
There are also potential brain impairments associated with marijuana. For about 24 hours after you finish smoking, you may find it harder to learn, remember, and focus. When teens consume too much cannabis, it has the potential to change their brains physically. This is why all areas with legal marijuana have age restrictions in place.
Effects on Mental Health
If you consume too much marijuana, you may experience panic or anxiety. There is also a chance for those with mental disorders experiencing worsened symptoms if they consume too much cannabis.
Some people also feel depressed or exhausted when they come down from their marijuana high.
Intensifies Alcohol’s Effects
Like marijuana, alcohol is known for creating effects on the body and mind. Early research seems to indicate that smoking marijuana while drinking alcohol increases the effects of alcohol.
It is common for those who consume marijuana to feel hungry. This is commonly referred to as the “munchies.” Some anecdotal evidence suggests that this effect of cannabis may help those who lost excessive weight due to an illness, such as AIDS or cancer. However, research is still incredibly limited, so this is mostly anecdotal at the moment.
Worsened Motor Skills
You should not drive after (or while) consuming marijuana since you can also experience a decrease in motor skills.
Minor Physical Effects While Smoking
Many people develop red eyes when smoking marijuana. Dry mouth is also very common, which is why those who smoke cannabis suggest keeping plenty of water on hand.
Potential Lung Irritation
It is also possible for cannabis smoke to irritate and inflame the lungs. Those who regularly smoke marijuana can even develop some lung problems that are similar to those who smoke cigarettes. Examples of these potential issues include picking up infections more quickly and ongoing coughing with colored mucus.
Potential Heart Effects
It is also possible that marijuana can physically affect the lungs. A normal heartbeat is between 50 and 70 times each minute. Consuming marijuana can increase this to 70 to 120 times, for as long as three hours. There is also a chance that chemicals in cannabis, such as tar, could increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.
Potential Reduction in Symptoms Like Pain
The reason that medical marijuana exists in so many jurisdictions comes down to its potential effects on various physical symptoms, such as pain. Most states in the United States have at least legalized medical marijuana to some extent. Despite this, research into the positive effects of cannabis on physical conditions is limited since it is still a Schedule I substance at the federal level.
The most common potential effects of marijuana, based on early research and anecdotal evidence, come from treating seizures and controlling ongoing pain. It may also show promise for MS-related muscle spasms and stiff muscles, sleep problems (due to sleep apnea, MS, and fibromyalgia), AIDS-related appetite loss and weight loss, chemo-related nausea, and anxiety.
It is important to note that more research is necessary to determine whether marijuana does indeed have these physical effects and the extent to which it does. Research would also still need to account for variations in reactions across individuals.
Effects on Pregnant Women
There are also some harmful physical effects on the unborn children of pregnant women who smoke cannabis. There is a higher risk of the baby being premature or underweight if the mother smokes marijuana during pregnancy. There are not enough long-term studies to see if there are any lasting effects on unborn babies.
Adults Can Make Their Own Decisions
Based on the research into marijuana so far, many people feel that the potential benefits, such as pain relief or relaxation, outweigh the negatives. This is a personal decision that each individual should make.
Teens should not use marijuana as it can affect brain development, and pregnant women should also avoid it due to potential impacts on the unborn baby. Other than this, however, adults can make their own decisions, provided they are aware of the potential risks.
Use Marijuana Responsibly
As long as you choose to consume marijuana responsibly, there should be minimal issues. Paranoia and anxiety, for example, are more common with larger doses so you can minimize these risks by consuming a small to a moderate amount. You can also avoid dangers associated with reduced motor coordination when smoking by staying home or in a safe environment.
It is just essential that you be fully aware of the adverse effects of smoking marijuana as well as those that you want to experience, such as the high.