Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in North America, and the severity of its effects are often greatly disputed. Many people, uneducated about its impact on the body, falsely believe that Marijuana is a safe, non-addictive drug. While there are certainly “harder” drugs that are far more damaging on the body, Marijuana is by no means “safe”, and its effects should be properly understood by all of us.
Short-term memory loss
Marijuana inhibits the brain’s ability to decide what should be remembered and what should be thrown away. In experiments where users were asked to listen to news stories and then recount what they remember, they were almost completely unable to recall anything they’d heard.
Feelings of relaxation and hyper focus
The most common side effect of Marijuana use is a feeling of relaxation, and “stress relief”. By affecting dopamine levels in the brain, the drug leads to sensations of euphoria, pain modulation, and general heightening of experiences. Perception is magnified, which explains why people under the influence of Marijuana become so hyperfocused on their ideas – they’re unable to think about anything else until a new idea takes hold in their brains.
The Marijuana “high” typically lasts around two hours, and users will often feel sleepy toward the end.
People who have inhaled or ingested Marijuana often experience confusion (especially because of their memory loss), decreased coordination and movement control, paranoia, sedation, dizziness, and sometimes anxiety. Marijuana slightly increases the heart rate, and if someone is anxious about using it, this effect may be magnified.
The drop in blood pressure brought about by Marijuana can also trigger a fainting reflex – causing a lot of people to feel the need to sit down.
Using Marijuana causes people to experience what’s known as “the munchies” – a sudden desire to seek out and consume food. Regardless of hunger levels, users will feel desperate to eat.
Some people experience paranoia to a level that becomes classified as a “psychotic reaction”. How vulnerable a person is to the drug can vary, with some users reporting feelings like the ability to communicate telepathically while under the influence.
Increases risk of Chronic Bronchitis
Marijuana smoke attacks the cilia that line the lungs, either paralyzing or destroying them completely. Holding smoke in the mouth for extended periods of time, as a lot of users will do, increases the level of this kind of damage.
Statistics indicate that if a person tries Marijuana just once, 9% will become frequent users who feel unable to live without it. Though the drug is typically considered non-addictive, human beings can become addicted to basically anything, so whether or not Marijuana is inherently addictive by nature, there are still many people who are dependent on its relaxing, euphoria-like effects.
Regular users also experience withdrawal effects when they stop taking the drug, such as insomnia and anxiety. Symptoms typically only last between one and two weeks, and are not life-threatening.
Detrimental effect on life overall
Users of Marijuana often reach a point where they feel they could have achieved more in life. Despite many being in denial of how Marijuana affects them, people are typically less motivated and productive when they use the drug frequently.
Studies also show that using Marijuana under the age of 16 can cause long-term impaired brain function.
The effects of Marijuana may come on instantly or be delayed, depending on whether it’s inhaled or ingested. Those struggling with substance abuse of any kind, including Marijuana use, should seek to overcome their addictions immediately, seeking professional help when necessary.