Marijuana effects on your health

Steven Mott by Steven Mott | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 09/15/2018

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Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. People consume marijuana through smoking it in cigarettes (joints) or water pipes (bongs), drinking it in tea, eating it in brownies or cookies, or using vaporizers. The Food and Drug Administration has also approved two medicines (dronabinol and nabilone) that contain THC, the active ingredient in Marijuana, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Learn more about Marijuana health effects.

What are the short-term marijuana effects?

Marijuana contains the mind-altering chemical THC, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. THC acts on brain cell receptors that usually react to natural THC-like chemicals. Marijuana overactivates the brain, causing a “high.”  Short-term marijuana effects can include

  • Altered senses and altered perception of time
  • Changes in mood
  • Difficulty moving the body (problems with coordination)
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Impaired memory

When taking high doses of marijuana, marijuana effects can include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis

According to the Harvard Medical School, marijuana health effects can also include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Slurred speech
  • Increased heart rate

Do not use marijuana and drive. Studies have found a direct relationship between THC concentration in the blood and impaired driving ability, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

What the long-term marijuana health effects?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, researchers are still studying if marijuana health effects can be permanent. According to the American Psychological Association, adolescents with developing brains may be particularly vulnerable to lasting damage from marijuana use.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, marijuana effects can include problems with memory, learning, and behavior. Smoking marijuana can also cause some of the same of the same breathing problems as smoking cigarettes.

What are the marijuana effects for cancer patients?

Marijuana may treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy, according to the American Cancer Society. Some studies have shown that THC and other cannabinoids cause the death of certain type of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. However, the American Cancer Society cautions that relying on Marijuana as cancer treatment rather than seeking conventional medical care may have serious health consequences.

What are the marijuana effects for HIV/AIDs patients?

Smoked marijuana can increase food intake in patients with HIV/AIDS, according to the American Cancer Society. In addition, medications containing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, can treat patients who have experienced severe weight loss as a result of HIV/Aids, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

What the marijuana effects for people in pain?

People who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials usually needed less pain medicine, according to the American Cancer Society. Sativex is a cannabis-derived spray containing THC. According to an article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, clinical trials have demonstrated the safety and efficacy for Sativex in treating central and peripheral neuropathic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer pain.

According to the American Cancer Society, a few studies have also found that inhaled marijuana can be helpful in treating pain caused by damaged nerves.

Keep in mind that despite the marijuana health effects, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved marijuana as safe and effective for any indication.  The FDA does support the research of marijuana.

Do you have questions about Medicare coverage of marijuana?

Learn more about Medicare coverage of medical marijuana. If you have questions about medical marijuana and Medicare, I’m happy to help you. For information via email, or to schedule a phone consultation, please use one of the links below. You can view a list of plans in your area you may qualify for by clicking the “Compare Plans” button on this page.

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