There are some proven benefits attached to marijuana, including relief for protracted pain. However, smoking marijuana can have some damaging effects on your health. The federal ban on marijuana makes it difficult to study its effects on humans.
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Marijuana comes from the dried flowers of the plant Cannabis sativa and it contains more than 500 chemicals. Cannabis can have a mind-altering effect on a person.
THC or delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the major psychoactive agent in marijuana. When you smoke cannabis, THC goes from your lungs into your bloodstream and then into your brain. It triggers the part of your brain that responds to sources of pleasure, thereby releasing a chemical called dopamine, which causes the “high” feeling.
The effect of THC can vary depending on who you are, the force of the strain, whether you smoke it or eat it, and other things. It can:
- Amplify your senses
- Give you a relaxed sense of happiness and security
- Change your sense of time
- Make you hallucinate
- Make you anxious, afraid, or panicked
CBD or cannabidiol, is another compound in marijuana. It doesn’t make you high. Instead, it can stabilize the effects from THC and bring you down from any paranoia.
Ways to Use Marijuana
The two major ways cannabis can be introduced into the body is through smoking and eating.
Smoking and inhaling or vaping, is the fastest way for marijuana to be effective. Your bloodstream carries the THC to your brain so speedily that you may begin to feel high within seconds or minutes after taking it. The amount of THC in your blood typically peaks in about 30 minutes, then reduces in 1-4 hours.
Ways you can smoke cannabis include:
- Rolled into a cigarette
- In a pipe or water pipe, called a bong
- In a cigar that has been hollowed out and refilled with marijuana, called a blunt
- In the form of sticky resins that have been drawn from the cannabis plant.
Eating or drinking marijuana slows down its effects because the THC has to go through your digestive system which may take 30 minutes to 2 hours for you to get high. However, it will last longer, like up to 8 hours than if you smoked or vaped pot. Cannabis can be integrated into cookies, candy, brownies, or brewed into tea.
Whether you smoke cannabis or eat it, remember that it can:
- Increase alcohol’s effects on your body
- Interact with medications.
- Hurt your concentration and motor skills.
Benefits of Marijuana
Researchers have discovered that cannabis can help with:
constant pain, stiff muscles, nausea or vomiting from chemotherapy. It may also help with loss of appetite in people with AIDs, sleep problems, and anxiety.
Disadvantages of Marijuana
Lungs: Regular intake of marijuana can cause continuous coughs and phlegm. The symptoms may discontinue when you stop smoking it. It’s still unclear, but some claim marijuana can lead to asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Cannabis truly helps open the airways at first. But evidence shows that regular marijuana use will cause your lungs not to function properly.
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Cancer. Researchers don’t have enough information whether cannabis affects other cancers like lung, cervical, bladder, head, neck, or prostate cancer.
Mind. Some evidence suggests that marijuana affects the memory, attention, and learning of a person after use24 hours after use. Evidence is less strong that your mental skills will get worse with long-term marijuana use. Limited evidence shows that marijuana hurts how you do in school or on the job.
Mental health. People with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders may be more likely to use marijuana heavily, about twice a month. Researchers have also found links between cannabis use and bipolar disorder, major depression, and childhood anxiety. What’s hard to untangle is if marijuana use leads to mental illness, or if it’s the other way around.
Babies and children. Babies born to women who smoke marijuana while pregnant are more likely to be malnourished, born prematurely, and need neonatal intensive care. However, researchers don’t have enough information to show the effects it would have on the children as they grow older.
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Secondhand smoke. It difficult or nearly impossible for a person to be affected by breathing in someone else’s marijuana smoke. Very little THC is released in the air when they breathe out. Probabilities that a secondhand cannabis smoke will make a non-smoker to fail drug test are extremely slim.