Does consuming weed have any side effects?
Cannabis has been shrouded in controversy for decades. Formerly a vilified illegal substance, cannabis is now widely accepted in numerous countries and communities across the globe. The widespread acceptance of cannabis can be attributed to the plant’s many medicinal benefits.
There are many studies and research projects establishing the efficacy of the substance as a treatment for a myriad of diseases. Despite the numerous benefits of the substance, marijuana — as all other substances — is not without its own unique set of side effects.
The cannabis plant is psychoactive, thanks to its THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) contents. The crop contains over 100 chemical compounds referred to as cannabinoids. These cannabinoids interact with our endocannabinoid system -- a system which regulates vital bodily functions, including appetite and sleep.
The frequent interaction of these cannabinoids with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is directly responsible for the effects (both positive and negative) manifested in cannabis consumers.
What are the side effects of marijuana use?
The side effects of cannabis use are influenced by a number of factors, including method of consumption and dosage consumed. The effects of marijuana can be grouped into two main categories:
- Short Term Side Effects and
- Long Term Effects.
Short term side effects of cannabis consumption
The short term effects of cannabis consumption are observed when cannabis has been ingested to the point where the cannabinoid concentrations in the blood drop significantly. They include:
- Increased heart rate;
- Bloodshot eyes;
- Lack of coordination;
- Impaired memories;
- Dry mouth;
- Numbed reflexes;
- Anxiety/Panic and so much more.
These effects are short term -- they cease shortly after cannabis use.
Long term effects of cannabis consumption
The long term effects of cannabis use manifest in individuals who consume the drug — often heavily — over a long period of time. These effects are manifested even without prior ingestion of the substance. They include:
- Cardiovascular risks — Cannabis consumption poses numerous cardiovascular risks to those who consume the substance through smoking. Also, studies have proven that cannabis increases the heart rate for prolonged periods when consumed. This phenomenon can aggravate the heart conditions of older or unhealthy consumers, increasing the propensity for fatal cardiovascular events.
- Respiratory risks — Marijuana consumed via inhalation — smoking or vaping — increases the risk of lung infections and related diseases in users. The smoke emitted from cannabis via smoking and vaping contains many of the chemicals present in tobacco smoke. Given these factors, some cannabis consumers experience some of the respiratory problems tobacco consumers suffer.
- Mental health effects — The frequent consumption of marijuana can have numerous adverse effects on the mental state of its consumers. Long term cannabis users have demonstrated decreased efficiency in mental tasks, problem solving, and overall motivation. These individuals have trouble recalling memories, both short and long term.
What about cannabis addiction?
Statistics show that 9% of people who abuse marijuana will develop an addiction to the substance in time. Source
There are tell-tale signs of cannabis addiction, such as:
- High tolerance — users with addictions often have high tolerance for the substance. This inadvertently leads to increased consumption.
- Withdrawal symptoms —moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms are a tell-tale sign of cannabis addiction. These symptoms include anxiety, irritability and insomnia.
- Reduced activities — Individuals who trade hobbies and activities for an opportunity to consume cannabis are on the path to addiction.
Final Words: How can I deal with a cannabis addiction?
A cannabis addiction — or any addiction at all — must not be taken lightly. Cannabis offers numerous benefits both medically and recreationally. Addiction, however, throws all these benefits out the window.
If you or anyone around you manifests symptoms of withdrawal, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible. Addiction levels vary and, very often, individuals with addictions require professional help and support to overcome these challenges.