Smoking weed: short-term and long-term effects for health

If you use marijuana, the side effects of long term use of marijuana is going to be something you will want to weigh against the tremendous medical benefits.  You have increasingly seen that the effects of cbd oil, medications containing THC, and the benefits of other cannabinoids like delta 8 THC are becoming widely apparent and accessible.   Let’s examine the effects of long term weed smoking and short term effects of marijuana use, along with the effects of marijuana use on the brain. We will see if there are negative consequences which can affect risks to your wellness and see how they stack against the many benefits and the intoxicating high of marijuana.

Short Term Effects of Marijuana Use

The user will immediately feel much of the short term effects of marijuana use.  When you smoke weed with effective THC amounts, you will get a quick euphoria, and most people get relaxed, a numbness, and a reduction in feelings of stress and anxiety. Altered perception can happen in novice users or those using high powered concentrates like dabs, crystal THC, and glass. Pain relief is a welcome accompaniment. It can boost the pleasurability of activities like making out, sex, listening to music, eating sweets, having conversations or playing sports. Coordination may be off and using heavy equipment or doing dangerous tasks are not recommended. Stimulant effects may include increased heart rate, change in pupil size, squinted eyes, sweating, and sensations of temperature change or decreased sensitivity to temperature. In overdose, the short term effects are generally a panic attack with anxious, paranoid, delusional, lethargic, or aggressive behavior. Unlike with opiates, cocaine, or alcohol, overdose is rarely if ever fatal.

Users may feel more creative especially doing music or other artistic endeavors. Some people will have creative realizations, others will become carefree and forgetful.

Some users, especially beginners will have uncomfortable symptoms of depersonalization. This is when things don’t feel real. This will only last the duration of the action of marijuana which may generally be around 2 to 3 hours for smoked marijuana. Unwanted or scary reactions are most often just waited out with the support of caring and reassuring friends.

Sativa weed effects are said to be more stimulatory and indica weed effects more relaxing but the reality now is that sativa merely describes a hairy, concentrated bud flower and indica describes a busty, round, grainy bud. Sativa genetics originated from Central and South America. Indica’s come from around India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Hindu Kush mountain valleys. Today they are so cross bred, every breed is a mix of at least these two or strains from other parts of the world.

 

Weed Effects in the Short-Term
How it feels Rare negative side effects
  1. Creative
  2. Deep in thought
  3. Different perceptions
  4. Effective in many types of pain and seizure diseases
  5. Euphoric
  6. Feeling calm
  7. Feeling good
  8. Hypersensitive
  9. It can reduce eye pressure in those with glaucoma
  10. Like a psychedelic, some strains
  11. More horny
  12. Nausea gone
  13. Pain melts away
  14. Talky and happy

 

●       Bloodshot eyes

●       Can’t remember things

●       Choking on the smoke

●       Depersonalized

●       Derealized

●       Feeling dizzy

●       Nausea

●       Panic attack reaction

●       Panicking

●       Paranoid

●       Rare psychotic reaction

●       Scared

●       Tachycardia

●       Uncoordinated

●       Unknown allergic reaction

 

 

A 2016 paper in the New England Journal of Medicine spelled out the long term marijuana risks for adolescents. Kids who start smoking marijuana too young may permanently alter brain development. Studies have found decreased matter in particular areas of the brains of people who began smoking marijuana in adolescence. The paper cites marijuana use as associated with problems in school including dropping out. Using too much marijuana in adolescence has shown a measurable few points drop in IQ. Frequent marijuana use can have an association with anxiety and depression.

Long Term Effects of Weed

 

Inside the brain: Long term effects of marijuana smoking

Marijuana aka cannabis sativa/indica will affect many receptors in the central nervous system. CB1 receptors found in the nervous system are affected by the THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes in marijuana and will release dopamine producing a euphoric high. Activation of CB1 receptors by THC causes changes in the levels of several neurotransmitters including glutamate, endorphins, acetylcholine, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. This will affect your demeanor, pain sensation, level of sensitivity to different types of stimulation and cause some of the physical effects discussed earlier acutely.  In the basal ganglia of the brain, the cannabinoid receptors can affect mobility, causing movement inhibitions or couchlock. Alterations of these systems over long periods of time may permanently change how they will function in the absence of extra exogenous cannabinoids. In the hippocampus of the brain, marijuana use over time can affect learning and memory. These changes can be particularly pronounced when the users start smoking during adolescence. It is recommended that users not use weed recreationally until brain growth is fully stabilized, which can take till one’s late 20s.

In a 2014 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, the researchers concluded “The results showed that compared with controls, marijuana users had significantly less bilateral orbitofrontal gyri volume, higher functional connectivity in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) network, and higher structural connectivity in tracts that innervate the OFC (forceps minor) as measured by fractional anisotropy (FA).” The significance of these findings is unknown but they do demonstrate long-term brain changes from smoking cannabis.

A 2016 review found that in adults who started smoking marijuana as adolescents, there was reduced functional connectivity in some areas including the prefrontal cortex which controls executive functioning. There was an association with cognitive impairments and poor grades leading to worse outcomes in adulthood when smoking began in adolescence.

Marijuana use has been linked with anxiety and depression, though causation is not thoroughly verified. It has been linked with the onset or exacerbation of a pre-existing vulnerability to psychotic disorders as well, especially if use is begun in adolescence.

9 percent of those who experiment with marijuana will become addicted.

Marijuana use after adulthood has not been associated with signs of significant brain damage and cognitive impairment.

Those with bipolar disorder should be watchful of symptoms of mania which can arise from marijuana use.

Memory and Intelligence

Weed causes acute memory loss and distortion. This will affect long term memory since the memory of the event was never fully experienced or stored properly.

Marijuana causes short-term memory deficits.  This naturally translates into  long term effects of smoking cannabis on memory and learning because it intervenes in memory formation.  Smoking cannabis in one’s teens and 20s can cause long-term memory issues, as the brain is not fully developed until late 20s/early 30s. Also, how much one smoked and how long one smoked was shown in studies to be indicative of the amount of damage to memory a user had. One study showed people who had smoked cannabis between the years of 14 -22 but stopped by 22, still had more memory issues than those who had never smoked cannabis. In adults, those who began smoking before 17 in studies had more measurable impairments in reasoning, executive tasks, verbosity, and language learning and understanding than those who started smoking after 17.

An earlier study on heavy weed use, done at Harvard, found more promising results, and was an actual study rather than a research report, meta-analysis, or other analyses submitted to journals for publication. They looked at people who had smoked pot at least 5,000 times versus those who had never smoked it and found no cognitive differences. Long-term cognitive effects of cannabis smoke was examined by Harvard researchers. They studied marijuana smokers who were heavy users, medium  users, and non users and gave them a battery of intelligence and psychological tests. They found no differences among the groups, suggesting cannabis use during adulthood may cause few if any negative cognitive effects. The researchers reached the conclusion that cannabis smoking created no mental deficits in adult users.

Physical Health Effects of Marijuana

 

Can it cause cancer?

Marijuana smoke has 50 substances that are recognized as carcinogens. However, it hasn’t been linked to lung cancer, anecdotally or in studies. It has even shown some cancer fighting effects. If one is concerned about the risk of the inhalation of any kind of combustible materials whatsoever, one can choose cannabis edibles for pain relief or recreational purposes and thus bypass any risk there could be of lung damage.

The puzzlingly preliminary answer that the research is pointing to is that cannabis smoking does not appear to be causative of cancer despite the inhalation of combustible plant material. This suggests that it might actually be having some anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer effect.

Other effects on the body

We’ve recognized cannabinoids can help in the battle against cancer-related nausea. There are many ongoing studies using various methods to use cannabis for other cancer-related ills. Some cannabinoids like CBD may help reduce aggression and agitation in age-related dementias.

There are some problems with cannabis’s effect on the cardiac system. It will acutely raise blood pressure and heart rate. In the period just after smoking, cardiac risk factors increase. It is virtually the same as happens during activities like sex or sudden exercise. They may give a shock to a heart which is weak and out of shape and this can cause complications. The risk of harms come down very quickly however as cannabis smoking is ceased the stimulation dies down and the relaxation sets in.

Weed should likely be avoided during pregnancy but the patient should consult her doctor. Marijuana could have associations with neurological problems in the developing brain of the fetus, though there is not widespread evidence of any cannabis related birth syndromes in babies of pregnant mothers who smoke cannabis. Pregnant mothers may avoid cannabis due to risk of miscarriage. It is inadvisable for a mother to use exogenous cannabinoids recreationally during pregnancy as the fetus’s nervous system is still developing and cannabinoids can cause the accelerated release of unnatural amounts of neurotransmitters and interfere with brain development. Pregnant mothers with cannabinoid scripts should consult their doctors about continuing treatment.

Will I get addicted?

 

Marijuana Dependency is a Mental disorder in the DSM-5 used by psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose and treat mental disorders. While marijuana has little threat of physical withdrawal or fatal overdose, it can be habit forming and using it compulsively can interfere with areas of life such as school, relationships, and work. That is the point at which one has a substance use disorder. Some symptoms that one has developed a disorder can be: feeling restless, feeling irritable between doses, being depressed, anxious, withdrawn, using higher doses, spending too much money on weed, and hiding one’s habits from friends and families due to knowing it is excessive. Withdrawals from marijuana are rarely serious and rarely if ever require hospitalization.

Conclusion

Marijuana is not for kids or fetuses, it can derrange developing brains. it is fairly safe for adults. So, get high and be wise.