The effects of marijuana: does it really hurt?

However, the number of young people who consider marijuana dangerous is decreasing.

The legalization of marijuana, for therapeutic and non-therapeutic uses, in an increasing number of states could explain this perception, but for example a review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and which took into consideration 22 studies (for a total of more than 1200 subjects ) made it possible to demonstrate, among other things, an increased risk of development of cough, sputum production and dyspnoea. 

Other possible side effects are also:

  • short-term effects:

decreased attention span and memory, learning difficulties, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes and feelings of paranoia or anxiety;

  • long-term effects:

addiction, reduced cognitive skills, behavioral problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy.


Marijuana is smoked through hand-rolled cigarettes or pipes or water pipes. Cigar wraps that are emptied from tobacco and partially or completely filled with marijuana are also used. Many people are adopting vaporizers to avoid inhaling smoke: these devices extract active ingredients (including THC) from marijuana and collect their vapors in a storage unit. Steam is then inhaled instead of smoke. Finally, consumers can mix marijuana in foods such as treats, cookies and candies, or take it in the form of infusions, such as tea.


THC acts on specific brain receptors, which generally interact with natural THC-like compounds. These natural substances play a role in the development and functioning of the brain. Marijuana overstimulates the parts of the brain that contain these receptors in greater numbers and this causes the phases in which the consumer feels "high".

Other minor effects can be altered perceptions, distorted sense of time, mood swings, deterioration of body movements, difficulty thinking and solving problems and deterioration of memory.

Marijuana also interferes with brain development. If marijuana intake begins during adolescence, the drug can reduce processing and learning skills, memory, and interfere with how the brain builds the connections between areas necessary for these functions. The effects of marijuana on these abilities can last a long time or even be permanent. A study found that those who started smoking marijuana in quantities before the age of twenty and persist in abuse lose an average of eight IQ points between the ages of 18 and 38. Loss of mental ability was not fully recovered by stopping adult marijuana. Those who started consuming marijuana as an adult did not show noticeable IQ reductions.

Marijuana can have numerous other effects, both physical and mental. 


Respiratory problems. Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs; heavy drug smokers may have the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers. Such problems include daily cough and phlegm, increased frequency of lung disease and a greater susceptibility to lung infections. It is not yet clear whether marijuana smokers are more at risk of lung cancer. Increased heart rate marijuana increases heart rate up to 3 hours after being smoked. This effect can increase the chances of a heart attack. Older people and those with heart problems may be more susceptible. Problems in infant development during and after pregnancy; the use of marijuana during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of both brain and behavioral neonatal problems. If taken in pregnancy, marijuana can alter parts of the fetal brain during development. The child may find himself having problems with attention, memory and problem solving. Furthermore, some research suggests that moderate amounts of THC are excreted in the breast milk of women who have recently given birth. The effects on the neonatal brain are still unknown.


In some consumers, the long-term effect of marijuana has been linked to mental illness such as: hallucinations, transient, transient paranoia and worsening of symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.

Marijuana use has also been linked to other mental problems, such asdepression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts in teenagers. 


Numerous active ingredients, called cannabinoids, can be extracted from cannabis with different effects; two of these have long caught medical attention for their pain-relieving and muscle relaxant effects: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Medical marijuana is used for pain relief, control nausea and vomiting and increase appetite.

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