How Pot Affects Your Mind And Body

Marijuana, weed, pot, dope, grass. They’re different names for the same drug that comes from the cannabis plant. You can smoke it, vape it, drink it, or eat it. Most folks use marijuana for pleasure and recreation. But a growing number of doctors prescribe it for specific medical conditions and symptoms.

Marijuana has mind-altering compounds that affect both your brain and body. It can be addictive, and it may be harmful to some people's health. Here's what can happen when you use marijuana: You Can Get "High" It's why most people try marijuana. The main psychoactive ingredient, THC, stimulates the part of your brain that responds to pleasure, like food and sex. That unleashes a chemical called dopamine, which gives you a euphoric, relaxed feeling. If you vape or smoke weed, the THC could get into your bloodstream quickly enough for you to get your high in seconds or minutes. The THC level usually peaks in about 30 minutes, and its effects may wear off in 1-3 hours. If you drink or eat pot, it may take many hours for you to fully sober up. You may not always know how potent your recreational marijuana might be. That also goes for most medical marijuana.

It May Affects Your Mental Health: Not everyone's experience with marijuana is pleasant. It often can leave you anxious, afraid, panicked, or paranoid. Using marijuana may raise your chances for clinical depression or worsen the symptoms of any mental disorders you already have. Scientists aren't yet sure exactly why. In high doses, it can make you paranoid or lose touch with reality, so you hear or see things that aren't there. Your Thinking May Get Distorted Marijuana can cloud your senses and judgment. The effects can differ depending on things like how potent your pot was, how you took it, and how much marijuana you've used in the past. It might:

Heighten your senses (colors might seem brighter, and sounds might seem louder), Distort your sense of time, Hurt your motor skills and make driving more dangerous Lower your inhibitions so you may have risky sex or take other chances. You May Get Hooked About 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. That means you can't stop using it even if it harms your relationships, job, health, or finances. The risk is greater the younger you start marijuana and the more heavily you use it. For instance, the odds of addiction are 1 in 6 if you use pot in your teens. It might be as high as 1 in 2 among those who use it every day. You could also grow physically dependent on marijuana. Your body could go into withdrawal, leaving you irritable, restless, unable to sleep, and uninterested in eating when you don't use it. Learn more about how to spot the signs of marijuana addiction.

It May Impairs Your Brain: Marijuana can make it harder for you to focus, learn, and remember things. This seems to be a short-term effect that lasts for 24 hours or longer after you stop smoking. But using pot heavily, especially in your teen years, may leave more permanent effects. Imaging tests with some -- but not all -- adolescents found that marijuana may physically change their brains. Specifically, they had fewer connections in parts of the brain linked to alertness, learning, and memory, and tests show lower IQ scores in some people.

Your Lungs May Hurt: Marijuana smoke can inflame and irritate your lungs. If you use it regularly, you could have the same breathing problems as someone who smokes cigarettes. That could mean an ongoing cough with colored mucus. Your lungs may more easily pick up infections. That's partly because THC seems to weaken some users' immune systems.

It May Ease Your Pain, and Other Symptoms: Medical marijuana is legal in some form in a majority of states. And more than ten states and Washington, DC, have legalized recreational pot. But the federal government's ban on marijuana has made it hard to study its effects on humans. Limited research shows that medicinal pot might help:

Ongoing pain (This is the most common use and a possible benefit of medical marijuana.)

Stiff muscles or muscle spasms from multiple sclerosis. Sleep problems for those with fibromyalgia, MS, sleep apnea, Anxiety, Loss of appetite, and weight loss in people with AIDS, Nausea or throwing up from chemotherapy, Seizures from epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. You May Feel Hungrier Many people who use marijuana regularly notice that it boosts their appetite. They call these "the munchies." Some research suggests that it might help people with AIDS, cancer, or other illnesses regain the weight. Scientists are studying this and whether it's safe.

It May Harm Your Heart: Marijuana makes your heart work harder. Normally the heart beats about 50 to 70 times a minute. But that can jump to 70 to 120 beats or more per minute for 3 hours after the effects kick in. The added strain plus tar and other chemicals in a pot may raise your chance of heart attack or stroke. The danger is even bigger if you're older or if you already have heart problems.

It Intensifies Alcohol's Dangers: More than 1 in 10 drinkers say they have used marijuana in the past year. Combining alcohol and marijuana at the same time roughly doubled the odds of drunk driving or legal, professional, or personal problems compared to drinking alone.

Your Newborn Might Be Underweight: Mothers who smoke pot while pregnant face a higher risk of giving birth to underweight or premature babies. But researchers don't know enough to say if those infants are more likely to grow up to struggle in school, use drugs, or have other problems in life.

Connection to Cancer Is Unclear Researchers haven't found any links between smoking marijuana and cancers in the lung, head, or neck. Limited evidence suggests that heavy marijuana use may lead to one type of testicular cancer. We don't have enough information on whether cannabis may lead to other cancers, including:

Prostate

Cervical

Bladder

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

What's CBD?

It's short for cannabidiol, a substance found in both marijuana and hemp plants. It doesn't make you high. CBD can be made into CBD oil and sold as pills, gels, creams, and other formulas. Some people use CBD to treat pain, seizures, and other health problems. But scientists aren't yet sure how well it works or if it's safe over the long term. Lack of regulation means you can't always know exactly what you're buying.

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