Over the last several decades, cannabis potency has increased significantly: in 1972, it was less than 1 percent, then in the 1990s, it became 3-4 percent, and today we may talk about 13 percent of marijuana potency. That is why, in this fast-changing situation, it is difficult to determine the short- and long-term positive and negative effects of marijuana.
In a national survey conducted three years ago, an estimated 24.6 million Americans (9.4 percent of the population) said they had used cannabis in the past 30 days. Apart from that, National Institute on Drug Abuse announced even more impressive data: about 2 in 5 Americans have tried cannabis at least once in their life, which makes marijuana the most popular illegal drug in the U.S.
But is marijuana consuming harmful to our health? It depends on a number of factors, including the doses, the length of the consuming experience, the strains, the way of consuming, and the general health state of the user. In most cases, negative effects associate with recreational weed, as it contains a high level of the psychoactive THC. In some cases, illegal marijuana may contain some pesticides that influence our bodies like poison. Other people link the process of smoking joints to lung damage.
But let us take a closer look at the facts.
The THC compound in marijuana interacts with the same pleasure and joy centers in the brain that are activated during the use of heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. But marijuana also has a CBD compound that interacts with the endocannabinoid system and, in most cases, counteracts the THC-induced negative effects.
Recreational marijuana produces euphoria (high effect) almost immediately when consumed by smoking or vaping. When THC is consumed with edibles, it may take much longer, up to a few hours, before the it starts to work.
Apart from euphoric feeling, cannabis can also cause relaxation and a mellow state, in other words, the stoned effect.
One of the most frequent effects is the increasing in appetite, or the so-called “munchies.” It can be considered as both a positive and negative effect, depending on the user's expectations.
Apart from this, marijuana's effects can be the following:
However, you can avoid most of the negative side-effects of marijuana by choosing well-balanced strains and abstaining from big doses.
Due to the way of consuming marijuana—in most cases it is smoking joints—it can cause some respiratory problems. Just like tobacco smokers, marijuana users may experience phlegm production, cough, and increased risk of getting acute chest illness. At the same time, using a vaporizer instead of joints reduces the risk of all these side-effects to a minimum.
There was also a lot of speculations about the connection between the increased risk of lung cancer and cannabis smoking, but according to the study conducted in 2013 by Dr. Donald Tashkin, even heavy marijuana smokers do not have a greater risk of lung cancer.
Consuming marijuana may also increase your heart rate up to 100 percent. Mostly, it depends on the THC level, and with some concentrates, the effect can last up to three hours.
Several studies revealed that long and heavy marijuana use can impact the immune system and, therefore, lower the user's ability to fight infections. Long marijuana consumption can also impact the reproductive system both in men and women: it can disrupt a woman's menstrual cycle and reduce sperm production in men.
About 9 percent of users become addicted to cannabis, especially those who consume it continuously and regularly. If they decide to quit, they may experience the same symptoms as people who want to quit tobacco or alcohol.
On the other hand, a study conducted this year shows that there is a certain connection between genetic markers and cannabis use. The study suggests that some people are more resistant to marijuana addiction than others due to genetic predisposition.