One of the most important things to understand about cannabis is that it affects everyone differently. The strain or consumption method that you choose also influences the way in which your body reacts. The effects of cannabis on the brain are not the same as the effects of cannabis on the body, and the effects of cannabis oil are not the same as the effects of cannabis tinctures.
It’s also true to say that experienced cannabis consumers react differently to beginner cannabis users, primarily because our bodies become accustomed to cannabis intake over time, building up a tolerance to it and its effects. Having said all that, there are some more specific acertations about the effects of cannabis and we run through each of those below.
What can we say about the Short-Term Effects of Marijuana?
When referring specifically to smoking or vaping cannabis, the short-term effects are fairly instantaneous, kicking in as soon as cannabis is inhaled, whether via a roll-up or a vape. These short-term effects usually last between one and four hours.
Many consumers report short-term effects in the form of coughing, increased appetite, red eyes, or blurred vision. Others experience short-term effects that go from euphoria to anxiety, from sedation to delayed motor reactions.
However, if you choose to consume a cannabis edible, the short-term effects take a little longer to kick in (you usually have to wait for around an hour before you feel anything) and they usually take a little longer to leave you too.
In most cases, and whatever the consumption type, short-term side effects tend to be minimal and are usually easily controlled with dose management.
What can we say about the Long-Term Side Effects of Marijuana?
Then there’s the long-term effects of cannabis. These are the effects that you begin to notice after consuming cannabis for a number of months or even years. They change slowly over time as your body adjusts to having cannabis in its system.
Some critics are concerned with long-term cannabis use, due to its psychoactive properties. However, it’s important to distinguish the difference between the whole cannabis plant and THC, which is the cannabinoid responsible for inducing the famous cannabis high.
Way back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine determined that concerns over long-term cannabis use should be separated into two different categories:
1) the effects of consuming whole-plant cannabis
2) the results of consumption of THC only
The debate continues.
The Most Notable Side Effects of Weed
Despite its illegal status for a number of decades, cannabis has been determined to be one of the safest substances consumed by humans, with a number of anecdotal reports and other types of evidence that show how it is impossible to overdose on cannabis.
However, the effects of marijuana on the body, or the effects of getting high, are numerous. Here, we outline some of the most notable and most common.
This common side-effect is an interesting one because, although many people note feelings of uneasiness when consuming cannabis, others use cannabis specifically in order to battle feelings of anxiety. If you do happen to experience an uneasy feeling when consuming cannabis, it’s useful to have something to eat.
Hunger and Thirst
Ever heard of the famous “munchies”? Lots and lots of people who consume cannabis report feelings of hunger and thirst, particularly when consuming indica-dominant strains. Yes! One of the most common effects of cannabis indica is the munchies.
It’s important to try to avoid binging on fast food and sugary drinks when consuming cannabis. Obesity isn’t a road that anyone wants to walk down. Stock up on those healthy snacks before you light up.
Experiencing redness around the eye area is another common cannabis side effect, which can be a problem for some consumers if they need to be in a non-cannabis friendly environment.
That Sleepy Feeling
Another effect of the indica-dominant cannabis strains is drowsiness. It’s one of the physical effects of marijuana, which is why it’s best and most common to enjoy indica-dominant strains at night. The effects of cannabis sativa, on the other hand, are the opposite. If you need a cannabis strain that’s going to help lift you up and offer an energetic, productive high, then it’s best to go with sativa.
Certain cannabis strains, particularly the stronger strains, can induce short-term memory loss. They can also make you confused and make it difficult, sometimes impossible, to complete tasks that are complex in nature and require lots of focus.
It’s a really good idea to talk through the strains you buy with an experienced budtender, so that you can invest in the right kind of strain for your needs and routine.
The Euphoric High
The most commonly reported side-effects relate to the cannabis effects on brain, or feeling of being “high”. Situations, feelings, and actions become heightened. When you’re “high”, for example, things that aren’t usually that funny suddenly seem hilarious.
Be careful to consume cannabis in a safe environment, with people you know and trust. Altered states of mind require safe situations and gatherings. And remember that the side effects of medical marijuana is just the same as the side effects of recreational marijuana. Both of them can get you high if they include enough THC.
What are the Effects of Cannabis on Pregnancy?
While’s there’s still no human research that connects cannabis use to the chance of miscarriage, there are a number of animal studies that indicate that the risk of miscarriage increases if cannabis is consumed during early pregnancy.
There are other studies that link the use of cannabis during pregnancy to developmental and hyperactivity disorders in children. Some evidence exsists to suggest that cannabis during pregnancy can result in low birth weight, premature birth, or even increased the risk of stillbirth by 2.3.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women refrain from using cannabis when trying to get pregnant, while pregnant, and while breastfeeding. Mainly because cannabis has the potential to negatively impact the developing brain.
What are the Psychomotor Effects from Cannabis Consumption?
Some cannabis consumers have reported psychomotor impairment after cannabis consumption. These effects are characterized by a lack of steadiness in the hands, by the inability to drive or to coordinate with ease, and a drastic decrease in the ability to focus.
The effects are usually temporary, lasting between two to four hours at a time, but newcomers to cannabis consumption may find that the effects last longer and are more intense in nature. Experienced cannabis consumers note that the effects decrease over time, as the body becomes more accustomed to having cannabis in its system.
What about the Effects of Cannabis on the Immune System?
There’s still a long way to go in terms of conclusive research, but some studies have shown that cannabinoids can have positive effects on the human body’s immune system via what’s known as the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of a series of receptors that act as a kind of bridge between the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and the body’s nervous and immune systems. Some cannabis products, particularly those made from whole plant extracts, target the endocannabinoid system and produce immunosuppressive qualities, which are beneficial in some ways to patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, arthritis, HIV/AIDS, and other autoimmune diseases.
It’s believed that cannabinoids have the power to activate the particular endocannabinoid receptors that specialize in generating antiviral effects, thus triggering a reduction in HIV infection rates, or at least reducing the negative symptoms of the disease.
Can I Consume Too Much Cannabis?
The short answer is “no”, but the long answer is “try to avoid a high or a dose that spirals out of control”. Even so, according to toxicology, a person would have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana in 15 minutes to induce a cannabis-driven lethal response, which is probably impossible to achieve.