Most Common Health Side Effects of Using Marijuana

Side Effects of Using Marijuana

Debates on the use of marijuana have been endless and far-reaching. Although several states may have considered making marijuana legal, some people remain doubtful if it should really be legalized considering that there are unfavorable effects that may occur on prolonged use or abuse.

In the strictest sense, the human body does not care if marijuana is legal or not. We can only realize the effects of marijuana once we have taken in the drug.

In this article, we will discuss important information about cannabis, and some of the commonly known side effects of marijuana in human health.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana comes from an Indian hemp called cannabis. It is from the flowers that the “drug” is made from, much less than from other parts of plant.

It is commonly sold in the form of dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds of the hemp plant. The color ranges from green and brown to gray. There are more than 400 chemicals in marijuana and hashish, and the main cause of the “high” effect is the compound called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The effect of this chemical produces a mind-altering property.

marijuana leaves

Is Marijuana Addictive?

When an individual is intoxicated with marijuana, it can cause changes in the mind and body. Using this substance may lead to marijuana addiction or dependence. This makes the individual yearn for more of the substance despite the bad effects of weed on the user.

Others would say that since marijuana is derived from a plant, it should be considered harmless. However, it should be noted that there are several other plants that can be toxic for human consumption, and the hemp plant is one of them.

Apart from THC, marijuana also has another component called CBD (cannabidiol), which is often associated with creating medical benefits but does not cause the “high” effect compared to THC. At present, scientists are planning to create a breed of marijuana plants with having more CBD than THC.

What Are Some Street Names of Marijuana?

Marijuana is referred to many street names such as:

  • Buds
  • Blaze
  • Bhang
  • Astro Yurf
  • Ganja
  • Dry High
  • Herb
  • Grass
  • Gope
  • Dagga
  • Hemp
  • Home Grown
  • Pot
  • Reefer
  • Mary Jane
  • Roach
  • Puff
  • Texas Tea
  • Weed

How Is Marijuana Used?

Marijuana can be smoked like a cigarette, and can also be smoked in a dry pipe or a water pipe (known as a “bong”). There are also other marijuana forms which can be mixed with food and eaten or can also be brewed as a tea. These are referred to as marijuana edibles.

Users sometimes take off the tobacco from its filament and replace them with marijuana. These are called as “blunt”. Sometimes these blunts are laced with other powerful drugs such as cocaine or PCP (a powerful hallucinogen).

The effect of inhaling the joint smoke may be felt within minutes. The immediate reactions to this chemical are:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Lessened coordination and balance
  • Dreamlike or unreal state of mind

The effect could last for 2-3 hours but will also depend on how much marijuana has been taken by the individual.

When a user inhales more smoke and holds it longer than how he would when using a cigarette, the chemical can produce significant impact on the lungs. It causes the user to have sore throat and chest colds. It is believed that using one joint is similar as having smoked 4 to 5 cigarettes. You can just imagine how much it could shorten the life of a user at this rate.

Marijuana effects do not only affect the individual physically but can also have mental consequences, which include poor memory and mental aptitude than non-users. The individual is incapable of decision-making, has a roller-coaster of emotions and decreased motivation.

What Are The Negative Effects of Marijuana?

The onset of marijuana use may cause disorientation, rapid heartbeat, and lack of coordination, which is often followed by drowsiness or sleepiness. Some have reported to suffer from panic attacks or anxiety.

Since THC remains in the body even after several months of use, it can cause damage to the lungs due to its cancer-causing chemicals, which are about 50 to 70 percent more than substances in tobacco. Meanwhile, long-time marijuana users suffer from bronchitis.

Heavy marijuana use can have such great impact on the brain that it is often associated with psychosis. The brain function of a cannabis user tends to diminish as the THC disrupts the brain cells.

Negative Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana use can also affect the structure of the sperm cells. That is probably the reason why some couples have difficulty conceiving despite doing everything that they can. With marijuana along the way, this can cause temporary sterility in men and can also disrupt a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Cannabis use can cause abnormal cell division, which may lead to severe hereditary defects. A pregnant woman who does not stop smoking marijuana can give birth prematurely to an underweight baby. These children born from mothers taking marijuana may have reduced initiative and lessened abilities to concentrate and pursue life goals. Other studies suggest that prenatal use of marijuana can lead to birth defects, mental abnormalities, as well as an increased risk of bone marrow cancer in children.

What Are Some Short-term Effects of Marijuana?

The following symptoms may be experienced by an individual who uses marijuana:

  • Loss of sense of personal identity
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Very strange behavior
  • Severe anxiety
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Lowered reaction time
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Sexual problems
  • Problems with coordination

What Are Some Long-term Effects of Marijuana Use?

Long-term marijuana users may suffer the following conditions:

  • Antisocial behavior including stealing or lying
  • Financial difficulties
  • Poor school performance
  • Decline in IQ
  • Impaired thinking and ability to learn and perform complex tasks
  • Relationship problems
  • Increased welfare dependence
  • Greater chances of being unemployed

Are There Unusual Side Effects of Marijuana?

Some have thought of losing weight through using marijuana. But realistically, after consuming a joint, the next thing you’d feel is grabbing a bite, hence the term “munchies”. You may not feel hungry while using weed but as soon as you have consumed it, you will definitely feel the need to eat.

Medical marijuana claims to help keep nausea in control among people undergoing chemotherapy. While this can be true, it is not advised for pregnant women who feel nauseous.

Using marijuana may lower your sex drive. It can greatly dampen any intimate relationship that you may have.

What is Dabbing?

The THC in marijuana can be extracted into oil which can be converted into wax and smoked. The wax can further be processed into a hard glass-like substance called “shatter”. This concentrated form is then heated quickly using a very hot surface, which is then vaporized and inhaled through a special device called “oil rig”. This is process is called dabbing.


The Effects of Dabbing

With dabbing, the effects of cannabis can be intensified. The THC content in dabs can reach up to 90 percent. This form of marijuana is slowly gaining popularity and not much is known about the harmful effects. However, doctors and drug abuse specialists are quick to say that the harmful mental effects created through dabbing have been magnified compared to using a regular joint.

The use of concentrated marijuana can create hallucinations, psychotic breaks and having unusual sensations like insects crawling under the skin. Most often, due to marijuana overdose, there have been repeated occasions when 911 teams had to be called.

What is Mooking?

Mooking is a way of smoking tobacco and marijuana in a bowl of a pipe. The chemicals of both substances trigger the nervous system and can affect both the mind and body of the user. Unfortunately, some of the effects are irreversible.

Smoking of this form of marijuana has been known to cause end-stage lung disease which requires oxygen tubes to be connected to the user for 24 hours. This would not enable the user to even take short trips to another room as it will cause him shortness of breath.

What are Marijuana Edibles?

Unlike in previous times when marijuana was just either inhaled or smoked, marijuana can now be mixed with food in the form of “edibles”. Its popular forms are through candies, cookies, sodas, brownies and teas.

Smoking marijuana may take just a few minutes before you can actually feel its effect. Unlike when ingested through the several forms mentioned above, it may take between 30-45 minutes before its effects can be felt. When the effect hits them, users experience a greater intensity of psychotic episodes.

The amount of THC on edibles can be great that there had been reports than users have experienced paranoia and anxiety to almost having psychotic behavior.

Several incidents of consumption of marijuana edibles have been reported to turn really bad. One instance involved a Colorado teen who took a bite of a piece of marijuana-infused cookie. After 30 minutes, the effect has not kicked in, and so he decided to eat the whole cookie. When the effect of marijuana suddenly started to be felt, the teenager went to the balcony, where he jumped to his death.

What is Vaping?

Vaping has been very popular since it started back in 2010. It was then using a chemical to replace tobacco to supposedly help cigarette smokers to slowly wean from tobacco.

However, marijuana users have found a new way of getting “high” in the hope of making it unnoticeable to authorities. Concentrated THC oil may be placed on a vaporizer to make others think that they are just vaping conventional chemicals. The effects of vaping marijuana, however, have not been fully researched.

Alcohol vs. Marijuana

Both substances may lead to addiction. However, there are several differences in the effect of each substance with its use.

  • Alcohol contains one chemical substance called ethanol, while marijuana has over 400 chemicals that also includes cancer-causing substances found in tobacco smoke.
  • Alcohol can be excreted from the body a few hours after consumption. Marijuana, meanwhile, stays longer in the body, which may range from weeks to months, depending on the amount of marijuana used.
  • THC damages the immune system while alcohol does not.

NOTE: Let it be clear that it is in no way that this article is promoting alcohol drinking over marijuana use.


No matter which side of the fence you are at, it is best to know the marijuana side effects to make you aware of the consequences that can happen after use. These bits of information should help you decide whether using marijuana is good for you or not. In the end, it’s still a good idea to consult with your doctor in case you are planning to use marijuana for medical purposes.


Lena Butler

My name is Lena Butler. I live in San Diego, California. I work as a customer service representative for I attended the University of San Diego and majored in marketing. I enjoy spending time at home, working on my painting and playing with my two pet rabbits, Carl and Lenny, when I am not here sharing interesting posts :)

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