Marijuana’s Effects on the Brain & Body

Marijuana’s Effects on the Brain & Body

Marijuana consists of shredded leaves, flower buds, and stems from the cannabis plant. You can eat, vaporize, smoke, brew, or even use it topically. However, most people choose to smoke it. When you think of cannabis, you most likely think of being high. The intoxicating part is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Today, you can find extremely potent marijuana, which might be 30 percent or more THC. 

Using Cannabis

Typically, users will put weed on rolling papers to make them into cigarettes. This is known as a joint. They might also place the herb in an empty cigar wrapper to create a blunt. When the cannabis is burned, THC will be released. Then, your lungs can absorb it and send it to your bloodstream. Some people also use bongs and glass pipes to smoke it.

Many people ingest marijuana in food. Besides brownies, you can add cannabis to many other types of foods, such as ice cream, candy, and even butter. If you want to take it in a liquid form, you can brew it into a tea. Then, you can add that to beverages, like milk, alcohol, and soda. Some manufacturers create hashish, which is a resin that is made from concentrated parts of the plant. Topical oils, capsules, and oral sprays are also all used.

A newer method of using cannabis is with vaporization. This involves using a delivery system that does not create smoke. You use e-cigarettes with this method. When you heat the marijuana at a low temperature, only the extracts will be released. 

That means you will only be inhaling the cannabinoids, instead of burnt plant material. It can affect your body just as quickly as combusting it can. However, there is still not enough research to determine if this is a better method than smoking.


How Does Marijuana Affect the Mind?

Like alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, cannabis can affect the areas in the brain that cause pleasure. Depending on the quality, method of consumption, and quantity of cannabis, you can feel euphoric, or high. This is because the brain cells are stimulated to release dopamine. 

When you inhale it or smoke it, you will almost immediately have the feeling of euphoria. But when you take it in food, it will take longer to go through your body. This is because it has to go through your digestive system before it can enter your blood and get to your brain.

You might also have some other mental changes when you are using the herb. For example, some users find that they are more relaxed. Others may find that their senses are heightened. Colors might look brighter and noises may seem louder than usual. Marijuana may also cause appetite changes. Many people find they feel hungrier, which is known as the “munchies.” 

Time can also seem altered. However, the effects will vary greatly depending on the person. Plus, the strength of the cannabis, how often they get high, and how often it has been since their last high will all play a role.

Sometimes, users will feel anxiety, have short-term memory issues, and even have a racing heart. On the other hand, they can feel more relaxed or sedate after using cannabis. Some of the other side effects can include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Fear or Panic
  • Trouble Completing Tasks
  • Less Coordination

When you are coming down from a high, you might feel tired or depressed. This is often because of the contrast between the feeling of euphoria and going back to normal. 

Cannabis and Teens

No matter how you decide to use cannabis, you should wait until you are older. Cannabis may affect the way a teen’s brain develops. That can result in decreased brain activity, as well as a smaller hippocampus, which is responsible for memory.

A 2014 study seems to support this. The researchers looked at teens who used marijuana, and they found that structures in the brain related to memory seemed to get smaller. That pointed to potentially decreasing neurons. These issues remained as long as two years after teens stopped using cannabis. That showed that the herb may have long-term effects.

However, the study also found that people who started using marijuana after the age of 21 did not experience these abnormalities. So, if you decide to try cannabis, it may be a good idea to wait until your adult years. A 2016 study found that students who smoked around age 14 did not do as well on cognitive tests as those who waited until at least age 17.


How Does Marijuana Affect the Body?

If you smoke it, you may experience some respiratory problems. That can include phlegm production and a cough. You may have more acute infections, like bronchitis. It was thought in the past that people who smoked marijuana a lot were at a higher risk for lung cancer. However, some research suggests that this may not be the case, even if someone is a heavy smoker.

Shortly after smoking, your heart rate may be raised by as much as 20 percent to 100 percent. That effect may last for as much as three hours, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The good news is that marijuana is not addictive. 

However, cannabis may also have some potentially positive side effects on your body. Many people who have chronic pain believe that cannabis may help offer some relief. One reason for this is because when you are high, you are less likely to think about your pain. But some individuals believe that they feel relief even with CBD, which does not get you high.

Closing Thoughts

There are many ways that marijuana can affect your body and brain. Some of them are positive, while others may not be. More research is still needed to learn about the effects of cannabis. If you are thinking about starting to use marijuana, you may want to talk to your doctor first.

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