Effects of marijuana

Marijuana affects both the mind and body in a variety of ways. These can be categorised as short term and long term effects, and are discussed in detail within this section.

This section is arranged as follows:

The physical and psychological sections contain information on a range of individual conditions, for example, marijuana and the heart or marijuana and anxiety which are presented as a series of subsections.

THC’s and cannabinoid receptors in the brain

The primary chemical in marijuana which causes these effects is ‘delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol’ or ‘THC’s’ for short. This directly affects the brain, causing the state of euphoria you know as a ‘being high’ or the pleasant, sleepy feeling – known as ‘being stoned’.

Once this hits the brain it triggers a series of reactions in certain receptors – known as ‘cannabinoid receptors’ which cause the following effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased pulse
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Elation
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased sociability
  • State of relaxation (or ‘chilled’)

These receptors are attached to nerve cells within the brain which are responsible for a range of cognitive functions such as memory, learning, movement and co-ordination. They also affect areas which induce pleasure and relaxation.

A very common effect is that of ‘the munchies’: this is a colloquial name for hunger pangs and is expressed as a sudden increase in appetite.

Having ‘the munchies’means that you have the urge to consume lost of food and find it difficult to stop.

How marijuana causes its effects

If marijuana is smoked in a cigarette or via a bong then it has an almost instant effect. The inhaled smoke, with THC’s, passes from the lungs into the bloodstream which enables these chemicals to travel to various parts of the body, e.g. heart, lungs and brain.

These effects last for up to 3 hours. They take longer to appear if marijuana is eaten or added to tea as an infusion but last for up to 4 hours or more.

Marijuana over stimulates these receptors within the brain which causes the ‘high’and other similar effects.

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