What you need to know – the health effects of cannabis

Marijuana, weed, pot, cannabis, grass—these are all different names for the same drug derived from the cannabis plant. People consume it by smoking, vaping, drinking, or eating it. While many individuals use marijuana for recreational purposes, there's a growing trend of doctors prescribing it to alleviate specific medical conditions and symptoms, such as chronic pain or anxiety.

Contents

What you need to know - the health effects of cannabis

Short term health effects of cannabis

The flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant are valued for their psychoactive properties, which can induce various effects on the mind, such as:

  • Elevated mood (euphoria)
  • Happiness
  • relaxation
  • Enhance sensory experience:
    • sight
    • taste
    • smell
    • sound

Some short-term effects on the brain may include:

  • confusion
  • sleepiness (fatigue)
  • impaired ability to:
    • remember
    • concentrate
    • pay attention
    • react quickly
  • anxiety, fear or panic

While cannabis may make you feel relaxed and happy, your body and brain may also be affected by:

  • negative
  • unwanted
  • unpleasant

Short-term effects on your body may also include:

  • If you smoke, the smoke can cause damage to your blood vessels
  • A drop in blood pressure, which can cause people to faint
  • Increased heart rate, which can be dangerous for people with heart disease and may lead to an increased risk of heart attack

Cannabis use can also lead to psychotic episodes, which are characterized by:

  • paranoia
  • delusions
  • hallucinations

Long term health effects of cannabis

Long-term effects occur gradually over time with daily or almost daily (weekly) use as follows:

  • weeks
  • months
  • years

The long-term effects of cannabis on the brain may include an increased risk of addiction. Long-term cannabis use can also harm you:

  • memory
  • concentration
  • intelligence (IQ)
  • thinking and decision-making skills

The effects may seem worse if you have:

  • begin use in early adolescence
  • frequent and prolonged use

These effects may last for days, months, or longer after you stop using cannabis. They may not be completely reversible even if cannabis use is stopped.

Other long-term effects of smoking cannabis are similar to those of smoking tobacco. These effects may include risks to lung health, such as:

  • bronchitis
  • lung infections
  • chronic (long-term) cough
  • increased mucus buildup in the chest

Health Effects During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Similar to tobacco and alcohol, the use of cannabis by a pregnant woman or new mother can have adverse effects on her fetus or newborn child.

The compounds present in cannabis are transmitted from the mother’s bloodstream to her fetus during pregnancy and can also be passed into breast milk after birth. This can potentially result in health issues for the child.

Using cannabis during pregnancy has been linked to lower birth weight in babies. Additionally, it has been associated with long-term developmental effects in children and adolescents, including:

  • decreases in:
    • memory function
    • ability to pay attention
    • reasoning and problem-solving skills
  • hyperactive behavior
  • Increased risk of future substance use

Impact on different age groups

The decision to use cannabis depends on various factors, including your age. Here’s more information on how cannabis can affect:

  • youth aged 13–17 years
  • young adults aged 18–25 years
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