What Are the Effects of Marijuana on the Body?

Marijuana is made from shredded and dried up parts of the cannabis plant, including flowers, seeds, leaves, and stems. While many people smoke or vape it, it can also be consumed as an edible. Different methods of taking the drug may impact the body differently. When it is inhaled, the drug is released into the bloodstream and makes its way to the brain and other organs. It takes a while longer, especially if you eat or drink marijuana. There are many effects on the body so it is important to know the impact if you or a loved one may be struggling with dependence or addiction.


Marijuana smoke is made up of toxic chemicals, including ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. This can irritate bronchial passages and lungs. For regular smokers, they are more likely to wheeze, cough, and produce phlegm. Marijuana may aggravate existing respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and cystic fibrosis.


THC moves from the lungs into the bloodstream and goes throughout the body. Within minutes, the heart rate increases 20 to 50 beats per minute. The rapid heartbeat continues for up to three hours. With heart disease, this could raise the risk of heart attack. One of the signs of marijuana use is bloodshot eyes. The eyes look red because marijuana causes blood vessels in the eyes to open and expand.

Central Nervous Systems

The impact of marijuana extends throughout the central nervous system. Marijuana is thought to ease pain and inflammation to help control spasms and seizures. There are long-term negative effects on the CNS to consider. THC triggers the brain to release large amounts of dopamine, a ‘feel good’ chemical. This may heighten sensory perception and perception of time. THC changes the way you process information. The hippocampus is responsible for memory, so it may also be difficult to form new memories when high. Changes can take place in the cerebellum and basal ganglia, areas of the brain that play roles in movement and balance. This makes it less safe to drive while under the influence of marijuana.
A person’s digestive system is also impacted from smoking marijuana. It can cause digestive issues when taken orally. Oral THC can cause nausea and vomiting because of the way it’s processed in the liver. Marijuana has also been used to ease symptoms of nausea or upset stomach. An increase in appetite is common when taking any form of marijuana, leading to ‘munchies.’ Many other effects can be felt by a person with addiction. It depends on the person and their individual circumstances but they are going to need some help with substance use if they are unable to stop using, experienced legal or personal trouble following use or want to stop but cannot. Rehab is a great place to receive help for addiction.

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