Apr 20, 2016 9:55 AM

Are There Side Effects of Smoking Weed?

Every April 20, potheads all across the United States celebrate the so-called “Weed Day” or “420”—the unofficial holiday of marijuana. It seems that no one knows the real story behind 420 turning into a nationally celebrated day, but it does not make the holiday less anticipated and the celebration less euphoric and happy.

Some cannabis consumers prefer to celebrate Weed Day not only on April 20 but whenever they want. Thanks to those people, marijuana is currently one of the most widely popular and easily accessible drugs in the United States. The recent Washington Department of Revenue data on grocery spending shows that residents and visitors of Spokane County have spent more money on legal cannabis than on food this year.

While some claim that the plant is safer than alcohol and praise its potent medicinal properties, opponents point to the health risks of marijuana use. So, where is the truth, how does pot affect your body and mind, and are there negative side effects of weed?

Short-Term Side Effects of Cannabis

If you have ever smoked marijuana, you probably do not need us to tell you about its side effects. After the very first inhale of harsh, aromatic, and thick OG Kush smoke, your muscles gradually relax, your mood improves, and the perception of time slows down. At the same time, you may feel mouth dryness, treacherous reddening of eyes, increased blood pressure and heart rate, sleepiness or, conversely, hyperarousal.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) adds other effects to the list; they are:

  • fear, anxiety, and panic attacks;
  • hallucinations and paranoia;
  • irritability;
  • increased appetite;
  • altered memory and thinking;
  • nausea, vomiting;
  • reduced coordination and balance.

Smoking marijuana can increase blood flow to the brain and your heart rate by as much as two times for up to three hours. In addition to discomfort, it can be extremely dangerous for those suffering from a heart condition. Moreover, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports, a patient consuming medical cannabis has four times the risk of having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) within the fist hour after the inhalation.

Though pot is known to ease anxiety and stress, it can also cause severe psychotic symptoms such as delusions, suspicious ideas, and hallucinations.

The short-term side effects usually last for up to four hours after the consumption.

Long-Term Side Effects

Most long-term effects have only been reported in the cases when people have smoked marijuana. Due to the fact that the weed is poorly studied, the cause and effect relation between cannabis and health concerns is complex.

The list of alleged long-term side effects is short and includes:

  • trouble concentrating;
  • eating disorders;
  • sleeplessness.

Some studies at the state and federal levels suggest that continuous use of marijuana may produce adverse effects on memory and learning. It may not destroy memories but can prevent you from forming new ones.

Smoking pot can cause the same respiratory problems experienced by cigarette smokers. According to the American Lung Association, smoke from cannabis combustion contains many of the same toxins and irritants as tobacco smoke.

Though the effect of the primary cannabis psychoactive ingredient, THC, on IQ is widely debated, some researchers claim that regular marijuana use can decrease IQ.

Furthermore, those who tried to quit experienced physical symptoms similar to those of people trying to quit other types of drugs or alcohol—cravings, sleeplessness, and irritability.

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