The Impact of Smoking Weed on the Brain and Body

Weed is a term commonly used to refer to the drug cannabis, which is derived from the hemp plant. It contains various psychoactive compounds, including THC, that affect the brain and body. Cannabis can be consumed in many different ways, such as smoking, vaping, or eating. It is used for a variety of reasons, including for recreational purposes, to relax or feel euphoria, and for medical purposes, to treat symptoms such as pain, anxiety, or nausea. However, it is important to note that cannabis can have negative effects on health and should be used responsibly and legally. It does serve a certain high but not for everyone necessarily. Some people might find cannabis unpleasant. Keep reading to learn the impact of smoking weed on the brain and body.

While cannabis has been legalized in certain regions, it is important to remember that it is not entirely free of negative consequences on the brain and then eventually the body. Here’s how excessive weed can influence your cognition and the way it works:

Issues with Short-Term Memory

Clinical studies suggest that use of marijuana can result in impaired memory. During the first 24 hours, it can be a problem and its effect may fade once you carry on with your tasks. However, irresponsible and persistent use of weed can lead to impaired short-term memory. This is because the main ingredient in weed is the psychoactive compound THC can impair the ability to form new memories and retrieve existing ones, especially while under the influence. 

This effect can be more pronounced with higher doses of THC or with more potent forms of cannabis, such as edibles or concentrates. Research suggests that chronic, heavy use of weed over an extended period may lead to more persistent cognitive deficits, including memory problems. However, the exact extent and duration of these effects can vary depending on various factors, including age, genetics, frequency and amount of use, and individual sensitivity to THC. 

Addiction is treatable. Therefore, if your loved one is suffering from weed addiction, an outpatient rehab can also help you in case you cannot afford to get admitted in a residential rehab.

Effects on Pregnant Women and Infants

There is evidence to suggest that using weed during pregnancy can have negative effects on both the mother and the developing fetus. When a pregnant woman consumes cannabis, the active compounds in the drug, such as THC, can cross the placenta and enter the fetus’s bloodstream.

Studies have shown that exposure to weed during pregnancy may increase the risk of:

  • Preterm labor
  • Low birth weight
  • Stillbirth
  • Developmental problems in infants, such as impaired memory, attention, and cognitive function. 
  • There may be an increased risk of behavioral problems and learning difficulties in children exposed to cannabis in the womb.

It was observed that those who consumed cannabis while being pregnant gave birth to infants that cried with a more high pitched voice than those who did not. Further studies are still being conducted to explore the effects of weed. Learn how to stop smoking weed while pregnant.

It is also worth noting that breastfeeding mothers should avoid consuming cannabis, as THC can be transferred to breast milk and can potentially have negative effects on the developing infant.

Impacted Psychomotor Functions

The use of weed can impact psychomotor functions, which involve the coordination between physical movement and cognitive processes, such as reaction time, coordination, and balance. THC, the active compound in cannabis, can affect the brain’s ability to process information and can impair coordination and reaction time.

When a person consumes weed, it can lead to slowed reflexes and impaired motor coordination, making it more challenging to perform activities that require fine motor skills, such as driving or operating machinery. Additionally, cannabis use can also affect balance and increase the risk of falls or other accidents. 

These effects can vary depending on various factors, such as the dose, the method of consumption, and the individual’s sensitivity to THC. The acute effects of cannabis use can last for several hours, but in some cases, residual impairment can last for up to 24 hours or longer after use.

Therefore, it’s essential to avoid activities that require precise coordination and attention when under the influence of weed and wait until the effects have worn off before engaging in activities that require focus and motor skills. 

Developing Weed Addiction

Although not everyone who uses weed will become addicted, it is possible to develop a substance use disorder (SUD) related to cannabis. Like other drugs, cannabis can have reinforcing effects that lead to repeated use, and over time, this pattern of use can develop into an addiction.

People who use weed frequently and in large amounts may be at a higher risk of developing an addiction, as are individuals who started using weed at an early age. The symptoms of weed addiction can include:

  • Tolerance (needing to use more of the drug to achieve the same effects)
  • Withdrawal symptoms (such as irritability, anxiety, or insomnia when not using the drug)
  • Difficulty cutting back or quitting despite negative consequences.

The potential negative consequences of weed addiction can include:

  • A decline in academic or work performance
  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Financial problems
  • Legal issues. In addition, 

Long-term and heavy use of weed can lead to negative effects on physical and mental health, such as respiratory problems, impaired cognitive function, and increased risk of mental health disorders.

When the brain is impacted due to any reason like marijuana use, it can eventually deteriorate physical health as well. The following are some of the repercussions of persistent weed consumption.

Effects on Respiratory Tract

Smoking weed can have negative effects on the respiratory tract, which includes the:

  • Lungs
  • Trachea
  • Bronchial tubes

When a person smokes weed, they inhale smoke that contains a mixture of chemicals and compounds, including tar and carbon monoxide, which can damage the lungs.

The smoke from weed contains many of the same harmful chemicals as tobacco smoke, including particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and carcinogens. The particulate matter can irritate the airways, while the carbon monoxide can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the body’s tissues, leading to shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain.

Additionally, smoking weed can lead to respiratory problems, such as chronic bronchitis and lung infections, particularly in heavy and long-term users. Some studies have also shown that smoking weed may increase the risk of lung cancer and other respiratory cancers, although more research is needed to establish a causal relationship.

Therefore, if you choose to consume weed, it is recommended to use alternative methods of consumption, such as edibles or vaporizers, which do not involve inhaling smoke. If you experience respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or difficulty breathing, it’s best to seek medical attention and talk to your healthcare provider about the potential risks of weed use on your respiratory health.

Issues with Cardiovascular Functions

Weed can have various effects on the heart, depending on the dose, method of consumption, and individual factors such as age and pre-existing health conditions. Here are some possible effects of weed on the heart:

Increased heart rate

Marijuana can cause a temporary increase in heart rate, typically within the first hour after consumption. This is because of the way THC, the main psychoactive component in weed, interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Changes in blood pressure

Marijuana can cause changes in blood pressure, depending on the dose and the individual’s response. In some people, weed can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, followed by a drop. In others, it can cause a sustained increase in blood pressure.

Risk of heart attack

Some studies have suggested that marijuana use may increase the risk of heart attack, especially in people who already have underlying cardiovascular disease or other risk factors. This is because THC can cause blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to the heart.

Increased risk of arrhythmia

Marijuana use has been linked to an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias. This is thought to be because THC can affect the electrical signals that regulate the heartbeat.

Interaction with medications

Marijuana can interact with certain medications used to treat heart conditions, such as beta blockers, potentially causing harmful effects.

Compromised Immune System

Marijuana use can have various effects on the immune system, but it is not clear if it can directly compromise the immune system. Here are some ways that marijuana can affect the immune system.

Inflammation

Marijuana contains compounds called cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, that can affect the body’s inflammatory response. Some research suggests that cannabinoids may have anti-inflammatory effects, which could be beneficial in certain conditions. However, chronic inflammation can also weaken the immune system over time.

Suppression of the immune response

Some studies have suggested that marijuana use can suppress certain aspects of the immune response, such as the production of antibodies and the activity of immune cells. However, the clinical significance of these effects is still unclear.

Increased susceptibility to infections

Smoking marijuana can irritate the lungs and increase the risks of developing infections. However, more clinical studies are required to confirm whether this information is true or not.

Final Thoughts on the Impact of Smoking Weed

Thank you for reading this resource on the impact of smoking weed on the brain and body. Weed may be a controversial topic but its addiction or other side effects are no less than a harm to a person in the long run. Therefore, if you observe that its dependence is affecting your life, be certain to take action and seek help from a licensed drug rehab with DEA-certified doctors. 

Do you think you have a marijuana addiction? Take our free marijuana addiction quiz

Jordyn Mastrodomenico LPC, LCADC CTP
Author: Jordyn Mastrodomenico LPC, LCADC CTP

Jordyn is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) and Certified Trauma Professional (CTP). She holds a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling, from Caldwell University, Jordyn has extensive experience in Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient settings and is skilled at guiding clients through the recovery process in individual and group therapy sessions.

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