Marijuana side effects?
Some of the short-term physical effects of cannabis use include increased heart rate, dry mouth (cotton mouth),
reddening of the eyes (congestion of the conjunctival blood vessels), a reduction in intra-ocular pressure, muscle
relaxation and a sensation of cold or hot hands and feet.
Electroencephalography or EEG shows somewhat more persistent alpha waves of slightly lower frequency than usual.
Cannabinoids produce a "marked depression of motor activity" via activation of neuronal cannabinoid receptors
belonging to the CB1 subtype.
When smoked, the short-term effects of cannabis manifest within seconds and are fully apparent within a few minutes,
typically lasting for 2-3 hours.The duration of noticeable effects has been observed to diminish due to prolonged,
repeated use and the development of a tolerance to cannabinoids.
The psychoactive effects of cannabis, known as a "high", are subjective and can vary based on the individual and the
method of use.
Cannabis is often considered an atypical, unique and sometimes paradoxical psychotropic due to its vast and
sometimes contradictory array of effects. The subjective experience induced by imbibing in cannabis use can be
considered stimulatory and yet also sedative or depressant, while also having markedly mild psychedelic and even
Some effects may include a general alteration of conscious perception, euphoria, feelings of well-being, relaxation
or stress reduction, increased appreciation of humor, music or the arts, joviality, metacognition and introspection,
enhanced recollection (episodic memory), increased sensuality, increased awareness of sensation, increased libido,
creative, abstract or philosophical thinking, disruption of linear memory and paranoia or anxiety. Anxiety is the
most commonly reported side effect of smoking marijuana. Between 20 and 30 percent of recreational users experience
intense anxiety and/or panic attacks after smoking cannabis.
Cannabis also produces many subjective and highly tangible effects, such as greater enjoyment of food taste and
aroma, an enhanced enjoyment of music and comedy, and marked distortions in the perception of time and space (where
experiencing a "rush" of ideas from the bank of long-term memory can create the subjective impression of long
elapsed time, while a clock reveals that only a short time has passed). At higher doses, effects can include altered
body image, auditory and/or visual illusions, pseudo-hallucinatory or (rarely, at very high doses) fully
hallucinatory experiences, and ataxia from selective impairment of polysynaptic reflexes. In some cases, cannabis
can lead to dissasociative states such as depersonalization and derealization;such effects are most often considered
desirable, but have the potential to induce panic attack and paranoia in some unaccustomed users.
Main article: Long-term effects of cannabis
Though the long-term effects of cannabis have been studied, there remains much to be concluded; debated topics
include the drug's addictiveness, its potential as a "gateway drug", its effects on intelligence and memory, and its
contributions to mental disorders such as schizophrenia and depression. On some such topics, such as the drug's
effects on the lungs, relatively little research has been conducted, leading to division as to the severity of its
Higher rates of testicular cancer in western nations have been linked to use of cannibis. A study conducted by the
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and funded by the National Institutes of Health, published in the journal
Cancer March 15, 2009, linked long term use of cannibis to an increased risk of 70 percent for testicular cancer
with the scientists concluding that cannibis is harmful to the human endocrine and reproductive system.
More research is no guarantee of greater consensus in the field of cannabis studies, however; both advocates and
opponents of the drug are able to call upon multiple scientific studies supporting their respective positions.
Cannabis has been correlated with the development of various mental disorders in multiple studies, for example a
recent 10 year study on 1923 individuals from the general population in Germany, aged 14-24, concluded that cannabis
use is a risk factor for the development of incident psychotic symptoms. Continued cannabis use might increase the
risk for psychotic disorder.
Other studies differ widely as to whether cannabis use is the cause of the mental problems, whether the mental
problems encourage cannabis use, or whether both the cannabis use and the mental problems are the effects of some
other cause. Still other studies even encourage the use of cannabis in treating schizophrenia. Similarly, efforts to
prove the "gateway drug" hypothesis that cannabis and alcohol makes users more inclined to become addicted to
"harder" drugs like cocaine and heroin have produced mixed results, with different studies finding varying degrees
of correlation between the use of cannabis and other drugs, and some finding none. Some, however, believe the
"gateway effect," currently being pinned on the use of marijuana, should not be attributed to the drug itself but
rather the illegality of the drug in most countries. Supporters of this theory believe that the grouping of
marijuana and harder drugs in law is, in fact, the cause of users of marijuana to move on to those harder drugs.