Effects & Risks Of Smoking Marijuana

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on August 19, 2023

Smoking marijuana causes an intense high as well as an altered sense of time, increased sensations, and changes in mood. However, smoking marijuana can lead to a number of risks including damage to your lung health as well as mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide.

Marijuana, also known as cannabis sativa or cannabis indica, is derived from the cannabis plant. The plant contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient chemical that can cause changes in mood and alter the senses. Another active compound includes cannabidiol or CBD.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The drug has a high potential for abuse and has not been approved for medical use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, medical marijuana may be available in states that allow the legalization of cannabis. It can be used to assist those suffering from certain medical conditions such as epilepsy or anxiety. THC can also enter the body through marijuana edibles or certain types of CBD oils.

Marijuana is primarily smoked. Those who participate in marijuana use may smoke the leaves of the marijuana plant.

A person can use a vaporizer, vaping pens, dab rigs, bongs, or blunts to inhale cannabis smoke. 

Effects Of Smoking Marijuana

When THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, a person experiences a number of effects. 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the health effects of marijuana on the brain consist of feeling high, increased sensations regarding colors and sounds, and an increase in appetite which some refer to as “the munchies.”

In addition, the use of marijuana may cause short-term side effects as well, which may include:

  • difficulty thinking
  • increased heart rate
  • altered sense of time
  • changes in mood
  • sore throat
  • coughing
  • trouble problem-solving
  • dry mouth
  • bloodshot eyes

Long-term effects of cannabis use can lead to a number of negative effects which may interfere with the immune system and can cause an increased risk of mental health problems.

Risks Of Smoking Marijuana

Those with certain medical conditions should consult the medical advice from their healthcare provider before taking cannabis, as there is a risk when using any drug. While marijuana may not cause serious health concerns compared to other forms of drug use, it can lead to health issues.

Mental Health Problems

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana may worsen symptoms of those living with a mental health disorder

For those who partake in heavy, prolonged marijuana substance abuse, negative side effects, such as temporary hallucinations or additional symptoms for those already diagnosed with schizophrenia, may occur.

NIDA also states marijuana use, particularly among young adults, has been linked with mental health problems such as anxiety, suicidal ideations, and depression. Delusions, paranoia, and psychosis may also occur.

Lung Health

Those who participate in long-term marijuana use may experience a number of side effects, including damage to lung health. In fact, those who smoke marijuana have an increased risk of lung cancer.

Marijuana contains carcinogens, as does tobacco smoke. It is well-known that cigarette smoking may lead to health issues. Inhaling smoke, even marijuana smoke, for long periods of time may lead to:

  • bronchitis
  • respiratory airway inflammation
  • tightness in the chest
  • sinusitis
  • chronic phlegm production
  • wheezing
  • asthma

If you or a loved one live with marijuana addiction, contact us today for information on our substance use disorder treatment options.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cannabis-marijuana
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-are-marijuanas-effects-lung-health
  4. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/marijuana.html
  5. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000796.htm

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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