Cannabis which is also known as weed is a psychoactive drug (a drug that changes the brain functions) gotten from cannabis sativa plant used for recreational and medical purposes. Weed can be smoked, vaporized, brewed or eaten but most people smoke it. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the intoxicating chemical contained in cannabis.
According to the Potency Monitoring Project, the average THC content in some retail cannabis today is 30% as against 13% THC content in 2010. This increase in potency makes it more challenging to determine the long- and short-term effects of cannabis.
Consumption of cannabis produces a wide range of effects, and these effects vary depending on several factors, but all effects are temporary. How the phytocannabinoids in cannabis interact with endocannabinoid system within the body can produce a wide range of short-term effects on the mind and or the body. These effects vary from one person to another, and it also depends on the physiology of the individual involved, the strain of the weed, THC content, how much is consumed and how it is consumed.
Cannabis effects on the mind
Cannabis when consumed, reaches the same pleasure center in the brain were heroin, alcohol, and cocaine also target. Depending on the quality and quantity and mode of consumption, cannabis can produce a feeling of high or euphoria by stimulating brain cells to release dopamine. The feeling of exhilaration is almost immediate when cannabis is inhaled or smoked, but it takes much longer for it to signal the brain to release dopamine when ingested in food.
However, other mood change can occur with relaxation being mostly reported. For some consumers, cannabis can cause increased appetite and an altered perception while others experience heightened sensory perception with noise being louder and colors appearing more brilliant. The impact can vary by individual depending on the strength of the drug, how often they consume it and how often they get high.
In some instances, reported side effects of cannabis include tachycardia, sedation, anxiety, elation, short-term recall issues, pain relief, and relaxation amongst others. In reference to the National Institute of Health (NIH), other effects include;
- Decreased interest in completing tasks
- A Feeling of fear and panic
- Reduced ability to perform tasks that require coordination
- Trouble concentrating
It is observed among consumers that when coming down from the high, they feel extremely tired and depressed.
Cannabis effects on the body
According to NIDA, weed smoke can cause the same respiratory complications in tobacco smokers’ such as frequent acute chest illness, phloem production, and increased daily cough.
In 2017, a study carried out by Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia found that cannabis users were 26% more likely to have a stroke than individuals who did not use cannabis, and 10% of the users are likely to have developed heart failure. According to NIDA, weed can raise heart rate by 20% to 100% immediately after smoking or smoldering, and the effect can last up to 3 hours. Weed smoking can disrupt the menstrual cycle in women and reduces sperm production in men.
Long-term cannabis users who try to quit experience sleeplessness, cravings, decreased appetite and anxiety, irritability- some of the same physical symptoms alcohol and drug user experience while trying to stop.