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Two states have already legalized pot for recreational use. And since polls show that most Americans are in favor of the practice, it might not be long before ts are rolled and bongs are smoked in many more states without fear of jail time. Even though the laws are shifting, the debate over legalized marijuana continues. Although some say marijuana is just as safe as, or even safer than alcohol, others argue that pot causes a lot more harm than just a serious buzz. Although there isn't much evidence that the occasional toke le to long-term health problems, researchers are concerned that long-term, heavy pot smoking can leave lingering effects. She's an assistant professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine.
The flower of the cannabis plant is used for its recreational or medicinal purposes. The stalk or stem of the cannabis plant is used for industrial purposes e. The seed of the cannabis plant is used for food and household purposes e. While many people smoke or vape it, you can also use cannabis as an ingredient in food, beverages, tinctures, or topicals.
Different methods of ingesting cannabis may affect your body differently. When you inhale cannabis smoke into your lungs, the compounds immediately bloodstream and quickly make their way to your brain and other organs. The effects may onset within seconds to minutes.
Can you get addicted to cannabis?
When you eat or drink cannabis-containing products, the compounds need to first pass through your digestive system and liver before reaching your bloodstream. The effects may onset within minutes to hours. People report various physical and psychological effects, from harm and discomfort to pain relief and relaxation. THC is responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis.
It also has potential medicinal effects for conditions like:. CBD is nonintoxicating.
It has potential medicinal effects for conditions like epilepsy and anxiety. While the National Institutes of Health has funded research into the possible medicinal uses of THC and CBD, research is incredibly difficult and slow due to the federal prohibition and classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug. And there are more than unique cannabinoids in cannabis.
Science has only scratched the surface of what these other cannabinoids can do. In recent years, the medicinal properties of cannabis have gained public acceptance. As of March36 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational or medicinal use. No matter how you use cannabis, it can cause immediate and long-term effects, such as changes in perception and increased heart rate. Over time, smoking cannabis may cause chronic cough and other health issues.
How do people use marijuana?
In addition to the immediate effects of cannabis, there may be longer-term effects depending on how you take it, how much you use, and how often you use it. As access to cannabis increases all over the United States and world, knowing the effects it can have on your body is as important as ever. Read on to see how it affects each system in your body.
Much like tobacco smoke, cannabis smoke is made up of a variety of toxic chemicals, including ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, which can irritate your bronchial passages and lungs.
Cannabis may aggravate existing respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. Cannabis smoke contains carcinogens, which could theoretically increase your risk of lung cancer. More research is needed. THC moves from your lungs into your bloodstream and throughout your body.
Within minutes, your heart rate may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute.
That rapid heart rate can continue for up to 3 hours. This places extra oxygen demand on your heart. If you have heart disease, this could raise your risk for a heart attack. One of the telltale s of recent cannabis use is bloodshot eyes.
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The eyes look red because cannabis causes blood vessels to expand and fill with more blood. THC can also lower pressure in the eyes, which can ease symptoms of glaucoma for a few hours. More research is needed to understand whether THC can offer long-term benefits for glaucoma. The effects of cannabis extend throughout the central nervous system CNS. Cannabis is thought to ease pain and inflammation and help control spasms and seizures.
Still, there are potential long-term negative effects on the CNS to consider. It may heighten your sensory perception and your perception of time. This dopamine cycle may also explain why as many as 30 percent of cannabis users develop cannabis use disorder.
Severe cannabis use disorder, or addictionmay be relatively uncommon, but it can occur. In the hippocampusTHC changes the way you process information, so your judgment may be impaired.
Changes also take place in the cerebellum and basal ganglia. These brain areas play roles in movement and balance. Cannabis may alter your balance, coordination, and reflex response. Very large doses of cannabis or high concentrations of THC can cause hallucinations or delusions. According to the NIDAthere may be an association between cannabis use Health problems caused by cannabis some mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. You may want to avoid cannabis if you have schizophrenia or a family history of schizophrenia. Cannabis may make symptoms worse or increase the chances of developing the condition in people who have a genetic predisposition.
When you come down from the high, you may feel tired or a bit depressed. In some people, cannabis can cause anxiety. Using cannabis during pregnancy can also affect the developing baby. The child may have trouble with memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills.
As mentioned earlier, federal prohibition has made research into the effects of cannabis largely observational, which can only detect correlation and not causation. Cannabis can cause digestive issues when taken orally. While THC has been shown to ease nausea and vomiting, in some people long-term heavy use can paradoxically cause nausea and vomiting.
This can be a benefit for people who need to gain weight or increase appetite, such as people with cancer receiving chemotherapy. Studies involving animals have shown that THC may adversely affect the immune system by suppressing it. This could theoretically make you more susceptible to infectious diseases.
However, for people with autoimmune conditions who have an overactive immune system, this may be a benefit.
This is your brain
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Your body on marijuana
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