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Effects Of Marijuana On The Human Body

May 25, 2008
Perhaps more so than with any other illegal drug, side effects resulting from marijuana use can vary widely. What side effects are felt is chiefly determined by the user's tolerance to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient of marijuana plants. As with many other mind altering drugs, a user's state of mind before using the drug plays a large part in the quality of the experience, as well as what side effects are experienced.

Side Effects in the Short-Term

People who use marijuana do so chiefly to experience a change in their perception, increase their relaxation, and to feel good in general. While consuming marijuana is usually reported to be a pleasureful activity by most users, harsh experiences known as "bad trips" can occur. While under the influence, a user's mind may seem more active, resulting in creative thoughts. Time distortion while high on marijuana may take place, leaving users feeling as though hours take place in the course of a few minutes. Dramatically increased enjoyment of everyday activities often takes place, making boring pastimes much more tolerable to the marijuana user. Short term memory is inhibited rather noticeably. Feelings of paranoia or of being in danger can occur with low doses, and at higher doses, particularly those consumed orally, users of the drug may go into panic attacks.

Short term physical effects are sometimes present as well, chiefly a sense of relaxation. In some cases, the extent of a marijuana user's relaxation can border on laziness or outright lethargy. Appetite is increased, resulting in "the munchies". In some special cases medical marijuana has been prescribed to chemotherapy patients who find themselves too nauseous to eat. Marijuana can also be considered a mild analgesic and certain varieties of the cannabis indica species are used medicinally for pain relief for anything from pains associated with cancer to menstrual cramping.

As with any other smoke, it is harmful to the body to inhale smoke from marijuana. Respiratory problems may arise from continued use as well as the usual coughing and wheezing associated with smoking marijuana. Other common side effects of marijuana are decreased motor skills, light headedness, and redness of the eyes.

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Use

When a person has been using marijuana regularly over an extended period of time, many changes in mood and in some cases, mental health, may take place. Short and long-term memory are both decreased with repeated usage of the drug. As tolerance to the psychoactive chemical THC is increased, as is the amount of marijuana needed to afford the marijuana user an acceptable high. A user's mood may be affected negatively by this need to use more drugs to get high.

After use of marijuana has been stopped, withdrawal symptoms can occur. The most common is dissatisfaction with life while not high, resulting in a desire to consume the drug. Trouble sleeping is another minor symptom that results from cessation of marijuana usage. Some studies have even shown that marijuana users are more likely to develop mental health issues as severe as psychosis as opposed to people who do not use. On the whole, it isn't smart to use marijuana unless it is prescribed to you by a licensed professional.
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