Like any other substance, marijuana has both short-term and lasting effects. Plenty of research still needs to be conducted, as there isn’t as much information about the long-term effects as, say, alcohol would have. However, there are still concrete results for both short and long-term effects.

To learn more about marijuana, click HERE for an overview.

Marijuana’s short-term effects

When a person smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. The body absorbs THC more slowly when the person eats or drinks it. In that case, they generally feel the effects after 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Marijuana kicks parts of the brain that contain the highest number of our natural brain cell receptors into overdrive. These receptors usually react to natural THC-like chemicals. These natural chemicals play a role in normal brain development and function. This causes the “high” that people feel. Other effects include:

  • Altered sense such as seeing brighter, more vivid colors
  • Skewed sense of time
  • Mood changes
  • Impaired or slower body movement
  • Difficulties in thinking and problem solving
  • Memory loss

Higher doses of THC are proving to be more dangerous and can also cause”

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis

Long-term effects

There are still many different studies being conducted to better understand the long-term effects that marijuana has on our brain and body. However, studies have concluded that if marijuana is used during the teen years, while the brain is still developing, it can impair the ability to think critically, recall memories, and may stunt the ability to retain information. Marijuana may affect how the brain builds connections between areas necessary for development.

Studies of marijuana’s effects

A study from New Zealand conducted in part by researchers at Duke University showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and continued to use lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38. The lost mental abilities didn’t fully return in those who quit marijuana as adults. However, those who started smoking it as adults didn’t show notable IQ declines. To read more on this study, click here.

In another recent study on twins, those who used marijuana showed a significant decline in general knowledge and in verbal ability (equivalent to 4 IQ points) between the preteen years and early adulthood, but no predictable difference was found between twins when one used marijuana and the other didn’t. This suggests that the IQ decline may be caused by something other than marijuana, such as shared familial factors (e.g., genetics, family environment).

Marijuana use is rising, but so are the questions. Click HERE to learn more about marijuana use disorder and a deeper look into its effects.

Marijuana’s effects on the body

Smoking, vaping, ingesting, and inhaling marijuana don’t just effect the brain. Studies are also beginning to show that, while many argue that marijuana is not addictiveit actually is. Inhaling the smoke or consuming the plant/oils can damage parts of the body and cause a variety of life-threatening illnesses.

  • The lungs
    • If smoked, the user’s lungs become irritated. Those who smoke marijuana frequently can develop the same breathing problems that tobacco smokers do. This includes daily cough and phlegm, frequent lung illness (bronchitis and pneumonia), and high risks of lung infections. 
  • The heart
    • Marijuana raises the heart rate for up to three hours post-smoking, which can increase the risk of heart attack. Older smokers and those with heart problems may be at an increased risk. 
  • Child development during and post-pregnancy
    • If used during a pregnancy, marijuana is linked to lower birth weight and increased risk of brain and behavioral problems in the infants. 
  • Children exposed to marijuana while in the womb or while breastfeeding 
    • Risk of problems with attention
    • Memory
    • Problem-solving
  • Testicular cancer and impotence

This type of addiction can be effectively treated. If you or someone you know needs help, visit Recovery Guidance for a free and safe resource to find addiction and mental health professionals near you.


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