Marijuana is among the most popular of the recreational drugs on a global basis, and it stands next only to alcohol and tobacco in terms of its popularity. This is in spite of the fact that its consumption is illegal in most countries or there is ambiguity regarding its legality. The vast popularity of marijuana is because of its mood-altering characteristics, which means that its users experience a ‘high’ after consuming it. The psychoactive chemicals present in weed are responsible for creating this effect upon its users. However, these very chemicals are also responsible for many of the not so pleasant effects of marijuana on its users.
Weed smokers usually consume the dried leaves, flowers and seeds of the hemp plant; Cannabis sativa. However, apart from smoking, a number of other means of consuming it are popular among a section of marijuana users as well. Moreover, the effects of weed are also dependant to an extent upon this mode of consumption because the concentration at which the active chemical enters the bloodstream decides its efficacy. The active chemical in case of marijuana, which is responsible for producing all the psychoactive and psychological effects in its users, is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. This chemical is also the one that law enforcement agencies try to detect in any suspected drug abuser with the help of myriad drug tests.
The agility with which this THC is able to enter the bloodstream of any marijuana user will determine the time lag between consumption of this drug and its expected effects to kick in. This delivering of the active chemical to the bloodstream is the most effective in case of those who smoke weed. The active chemical enters the bloodstream rapidly through the lung, and starts exerting its effect on pretty much every corner of the body. Thus, the marijuana effects are the fastest in people who smoke it, rather than taking it in some other form.
The other forms of marijuana consumption include grounding the cannabis leaves, and mixing it in various food dishes such as puddings or cakes. Moreover, many are fond of inhaling powdered cannabis leaf and flowers with the help of a vaporizer. Cannabis that enters the body through the digestive tract takes some time to exert the marijuana effects because the body needs to break it down first before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. However, regardless of the manner in which a person consumes marijuana, they are going to experience the side effects of weed all the same. This is because marijuana affects practically every organ in the body, and some of those negative effects of weed are not at all good for the users.
Short Term Effects of Marijuana
The effects that users of marijuana start to feel right from a few minutes after having consumed it, to a few hours afterwards is the handiwork of the active chemical THC. The THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors of brain and creates the effects, which the users collectively term as ‘getting high’. However, the short term effects of marijuana consumption are much more than a feeling of euphoria and elation that many users feel.
Among the common short term effects of marijuana that users feel almost immediately after consuming it is the increase in the heart rate or tachycardia, as well as, increase in the blood pressure or hypertension. Both of these cannabis weed side effects can get out of hand, and combine to produce fatal consequences for the users. Moreover, weed users can experience an increased rate of breathing or tachypnea. Among the other negative effects of marijuana that the users feel over the short-term, include red eyes, and dryness in mouth, as well as, short-term memory loss.
Using cannabis weed also leads to a slowed reaction time, which are due to the impairment of the sensory perception and motor coordination skills. Moreover, marijuana weed users are bound to experience a distortion in their perception of sound, sight, and time. There might even be a degree of hallucinating (rambling) with magical thinking being among the major short term effects of cannabis. In fact, many of the users of this drug are fond of it because of this very characteristic. Apart from that, cannabis users are also likely to experience a spike in their appetite, which may result in excessive eating and resulting health effects.
The short term effects of marijuana abuse result in an unstable state of mind and body, which makes it dangerous for the weed users to drive or handle any heavy machinery while under its influence. Marijuana leads to cognitive problems, which can considerably impair learning ability, even though many wrongly belief it to be beneficial for learning anything because of its alleged effect in improving attention span. Furthermore, cannabis often leads to a growing feeling of anxiety and depression, and even paranoia in some, once the initial euphoria and ecstasy wears off. Thus, the short term negative effects of marijuana that users experience are quite extensive, and seriously affect their health.
Long Term Effects of Marijuana
However harmful the short term effects of marijuana may be, the long term effects of marijuana abuse are even more damaging for its users. This is because the active chemical of cannabis is capable of affecting every major organ in the body, and thus the damage it produces is widespread in its occurrence. Among the most telltale sign of marijuana abuse is the lack of motivation, and growing apathy towards life in general. Moreover, it produces a number of other psychological changes, which include negative changes in the personality and mood of long-term addicts, as well as, drowsiness whenever they are not high.
Other long-term psychological negative effects of marijuana include a schizophrenic state, combined with reduced ability to process and retain information, both of which can be damning for the career prospects of the users of this drug. Apart from causing several psychological problems, marijuana abuse also leads to severe damaging of various critical organs in the body. Thus, chronic consumers of cannabis are likely to have reduced immune capabilities, as well as, ability to fight common infections such as common cold and bronchitis.
Apart from causing brain lesions that could well be permanent, chronic smoking of weed often causes rapid destruction of the lung fibers, and can also increase the likelihood of its users suffering from lung cancer. Harmful long-term cannabis effects also include a severe damage to the sex life of its users, with a decreased sex drive, as well as, reduction in the concentration of male hormones of sex as well. Moreover, there is a considerable increase in the abnormality in the structure of the cells in the body of chronic users of cannabis.
Long term effects of marijuana abuse can also cause growth disorders, in addition to causing general weakness as well. Moreover, chronic abuse of marijuana leads to an increasing dependence on this drug, with any sober period leading to increased paranoia and other common signs of withdrawal syndrome. The long term effects of marijuana are highly detrimental and even fatal for the chronic users. It is most likely to impair the mental faculty of its long-term users, while also impairing their physical health. Therefore, abstaining from cannabis is the most effective way of staying clear of the debilitating long term effects of marijuana.
A study that was published in the ‘The Medical Journal of Australia’ researched if marijuana smoke can have adverse effects on the body. Researchers conducted various tests on humans in 1992 to establish this fact. They found marijuana smoke as mutagenic (capable of mutation) Ames test. They also established that cannabinoids could inhibit biosynthesis of macromolecules. The in-vitro and in-vivo experimental studies reported the first pathophysiological effects of marijuana. The results on the tests show smoking marijuana can lead to airway obstruction and squamous metaplasia. They can also cause long-term impairment of memory in adolescents.
Another study published in 1997 published in the ‘Oral Oncology Journal’ suggested that 72% of males and 53% of females used cannabis and marijuana. They conducted a survey to determine the effects of marijuana on the human body. They found out, that marijuana could cause anxiety, dysphoria, and panic as well as acute cognitive and psychomotor impairment among users.
These studies suggest that smoking marijuana can have a dramatic effect on the body and the functions of the brain. The effects of smoking marijuana can make ones mental state unstable, and it could lead addicts to being highly unsociable with their families, and even completely isolating themselves from the outside world altogether. It’s also interesting to note that mental illnesses like: anxiety, dysphoria, and panic attacks were rising in marijuana smokers, which could also be due to the difficult situations that an addict may face after they have distanced themselves from family, friends, or losing their jobs. If your an marijuana smoker and want to make changes to the way things are, then check out these ‘Quitting Marijuana Tips’ by clicking here!
Toxicity of Marijuana– 1992- The Medical Journal of Australia- by Nahas G, Latour C
Marijuana Use & Oral Cancer– 1997- Oral Oncology Journal– by N.A. Firth