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Side Effects of Cannabis

Side Effects of Cannabis: A Closer Look Beyond the High

When exploring the realm of cannabis, it’s important to understand the varied experiences it can offer. Cannabis can induce a range of effects, from relaxation and contentment to heightened alertness. Some users may experience increased anxiety or confusion, which are less common side effects of cannabis but manageable cannabis experiences.

Understanding the potential effects of cannabis is as crucial as knowing how to use it. The impact can range from temporary sensations to longer-term health considerations, affecting both physical and mental well-being with extended usage. This overview aims to guide you through the potential outcomes of cannabis use, enhancing your understanding of its complex nature.

Key Takeaways

  • The appearance of cannabis varies, but all forms come from the cannabis plant.
  • Cannabis use can lead to feelings of happiness or relaxation but also paranoia or anxiety.
  • Short-term side effects of cannabis usually subside within hours, but long-term implications may persist.
  • Understanding both the negative and positive side effects of cannabis is crucial for responsible consumption.
  • Physical and mental health risks should be considered before using cannabis.
  • Long-term cannabis use can significantly impact motivation and memory.
  • Being informed about the health risks associated with cannabis is essential for making conscious choices.

An Overview of Cannabis and Methods of Consumption

As you embark on understanding the versatile world of cannabis, it’s essential to grasp the various methods of cannabis consumption that can influence the onset, duration, and intensity of the side effects of cannabis. Whether it’s smoking cannabis, indulging in cannabis edibles, vaping cannabis, or using cannabis extracts like THC-rich resins, each avenue presents a unique experience. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the most popular methods and how they might suit your preferences.

  • Smoking Cannabis: The traditional and most commonly recognised approach—either through rolling it into ‘spliffs’ or ‘joints’ or by using ‘bongs’—involves burning cannabis and inhaling the smoke to feel the effects almost instantaneously.
  • Cannabis Edibles: Consuming cannabis-infused foods or beverages like brownies, sweets, or tea may take longer for the THC to kick in, but the results are typically more prolonged and variable.
  • Vaping Cannabis: A more modern method which heats cannabis to release vapour rather than smoke, reducing the inhalation of burnt material.
  • Cannabis Extracts: Concentrated forms of cannabis, including ‘dab’, ‘shatter’, and oils, can be vaped or added to edibles, providing a stronger and cleaner dose of THC.
Cannabis Consumption Methods

The route you choose to consume cannabis will likely reflect your personal tastes, desired effects, and health considerations. Those who prefer the quick onset of effects might gravitate towards smoking or vaping, while others looking for longer-lasting effects and without the harshness of smoke might find edibles or teas more appealing.

Method Onset Time Duration of Effects Considerations
Smoking (Spliffs, Joints, Bongs) 1-2 minutes 1-3 hours Immediate effects: tobacco use can lead to nicotine dependence.
Edibles (Brownies, Tea, Gummies) 30 minutes – 1 hour 2-4 hours peak effects Longer duration; dosing can be unpredictable.
Vaping (E-liquids, Concentrates) 1-2 minutes Variable Reduced smoke inhalation; potency and legal issues can vary.
Extracts (Dab, Shatter) 1-5 minutes Variable Highly potent; potential risks with unregulated products.

Common Physical and Psychological Effects of Cannabis

When you consume cannabis, be it for medical purposes or recreation, being aware of its physical effects and psychological effects is crucial. The psychoactive effects of THC, the principal active ingredient in cannabis, can lead to an array of sensory experiences and health-related consequences. Let’s explore these implications to provide a comprehensive understanding of cannabis use.

Mental side effects of cannabis

Short-Term Physical Impacts

The immediate physical side effects of cannabis can significantly alter your perception and physiological state. After consumption, especially when smoked, THC accesses the bloodstream rapidly, potentially leading to an increased heart rate and heightened senses. Some users describe this high as a feeling of euphoria or relaxation, while others might experience sensory distortions or impaired coordination. Common respiratory issues include coughing and exacerbated asthmatic symptoms due to the irritants present in cannabis smoke.

  • Altered senses (e.g., brighter colours, enhanced tastes)
  • Increased heart rate within minutes
  • Potential coordination and movement difficulties
  • Potential breathing difficulties (tight-chested), coughing, and potential for respiratory infections

Long-Term Health Risks of Smoking Cannabis

Extensive use of cannabis is not without potential consequences. Persistent inhalation of cannabis smoke may mirror some risks associated with tobacco use. One such risk is the potential for lung cancer (shown in some studies but not shown in others), as well as an increased cannabis heart risk due to the ongoing elevation of heart rate post-consumption. Moreover, cannabis can influence reproductive health, potentially leading to reduced sperm count in males and ovulation issues in females.

The risk of adverse outcomes escalates when cannabis use occurs during pregnancy, which may reflect a higher chance of low birth weight and developmental challenges for the child. Noteworthy, too, is the potential onset of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, a distressing cycle of nausea and vomiting among chronic users which has been reported in the UK post-legalisation.

Long-Term Effect Potential Outcomes
Lung Health Increase of respiratory diseases when smoked, especially when mixed with tobacco.
Cardiovascular Raised cannabis heart risk and hypertension.
Reproductive Health Potential reduction in fertility for both men and women.
Pregnancy Association with low birth weight and developmental issues in children.

Cannabis and Lung Cancer – What the Studies Say

The association between cannabis use and the risk of lung cancer has been a topic of considerable research, with mixed findings across various studies:

  1. A pooled analysis in the International Lung Cancer Consortium found little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis users. However, heavy consumption might have potential adverse effects (Zhang et al., 2015).
  2. Contrasting findings were reported in a study from Tunisia, indicating a potential risk factor for lung cancer with an odds ratio of 4.1 for cannabis smokers (Voirin et al., 2006). Similar results were found in a pooled analysis of three studies in Maghreb, showing an odds ratio of 2.4 for every cannabis smoking (Berthiller et al., 2008).
  3. Heavy cannabis smoking was significantly associated with a more than twofold risk of developing lung cancer over a 40-year follow-up period in another study (Callaghan, Allebeck & Sidorchuk, 2013).
  4. However, a systematic review and meta-analysis suggested that the risk of lung cancer might be marginally statistically significant, with a relative risk of 1.22 (Bouti et al., 2014).
  5. Another perspective was provided by a case control study, which suggested an 8% increase in lung cancer risk for each joint year of smoking (Aldington et al., 2008).
  6. In contrast, some studies reported no significant association between cannabis use and lung cancer, suggesting that the clinical, radiological, and histological aspects do not differ between cannabis users and tobacco-only smokers (Khattabi et al., 2015).

In conclusion, while some research indicates a potential increased risk of lung cancer with heavy or long-term cannabis smoking, other studies show little or no significant association. The evidence remains mixed and somewhat inconclusive, highlighting the need for further research in this area.

Cannabis and Cardiovascular Health – What the Studies Say

The relationship between cannabis use and cardiovascular health is complex, with research showing varied outcomes:

  1. Cannabis use has been found to have no causal effects on the risk of several common cardiovascular diseases but is associated with detrimental effects on small vessel stroke and atrial fibrillation (Zhao et al., 2021).
  2. There are indications that cannabis use can precipitate cardiovascular emergencies, exacerbate coronary ischemia, and trigger myocardial infarction, particularly in patients with existing cardiovascular disease (Lindsay et al., 2005).
  3. Cannabis consumption has been associated with an increase in ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction, especially in males in their 30s (O’Keefe et al., 2020).
  4. However, a study found no association between cumulative lifetime and recent Cannabis use with incident cardiovascular disease, stroke, or coronary heart disease (Reis et al., 2017).
  5. Cannabis use disorder is linked to a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, heart failure, pulmonary embolism, and stroke, but the evidence for coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction is less robust (Chen et al., 2022).
  6. Observational data suggest a broad range of adverse cardiovascular risks associated with Cannabis, including smoking and synthetic cannabinoids (DeFilippis et al., 2020).
  7. Cannabis use is related to an increased risk of myocardial injury, especially in individuals without cardiovascular disease but with co-existent hypertension (Skipina et al., 2021).
  8. Cannabis use has been associated with various cardiovascular issues, including myocardial infarction, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiomyopathies, stroke, and arteritis (Latif & Garg, 2020).

In summary, while some studies indicate a link between cannabis use and negative cardiovascular outcomes, particularly in individuals with pre-existing conditions or heavy use, other research shows no significant association with cardiovascular disease. The evidence suggests that the impact of cannabis on cardiovascular health may depend on various factors, including the amount and frequency of use, individual health status, and the presence of other risk factors.

Cannabis and Reproductive Health – What the Studies Say

Cannabis use has been associated with various negative reproductive outcomes, particularly concerning pregnancy, fertility, and fetal development:

  1. Excessive cannabis intake during pregnancy is linked to adverse outcomes like preterm birth (Ezechukwu et al., 2020).
  2. Using cannabis in pregnancy increases the risk of low birth weight, preterm labour, small size for gestational age, and neonatal intensive care unit admission (Hayatbakhsh et al., 2010).
  3. Cannabis use can impair fertility by affecting hormonal regulation and embryo implantation (Battista et al., 2008).
  4. Cannabis use disrupts menstrual cycles, suppresses oogenesis, and impairs embryo implantation and development in both women and men (Bari et al., 2011).
  5. Cannabis-related diagnosis in pregnancy is associated with very preterm birth and small for gestational age infants (Bandoli et al., 2021).
  6. THC consumption during pregnancy results in fewer fetuses and reduced maternal and placental weights (Chang et al., 2017).
  7. Cannabis use during gestation is linked to intrauterine growth restriction, preterm birth, low birth weight, and miscarriage risk (Maia et al., 2020).
  8. The use of Cannabis during pregnancy is associated with gestational disorders such as preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction (Maia et al., 2019).
  9. Cannabis use is associated with lower sperm concentrations in men, suggesting a negative impact on fertility potential (Hsiao & Clavijo, 2018).
  10. Cannabis use by pregnant women may negatively impact placental development and remodelling, affecting pregnancy outcomes (Alves et al., 2021).
  11. Cannabis use by pregnant women is linked to disturbances in pregnancy outcomes, such as low birth weight, prematurity, and intrauterine growth retardation (Maia et al., 2020).

In conclusion, cannabis use is associated with several negative reproductive outcomes, particularly during pregnancy, affecting both maternal and fetal health. These findings highlight the importance of caution in cannabis use, especially during pregnancy and for individuals trying to conceive.

The Dynamic Psychological Landscape of Cannabis Exploration

Exploring the cannabis world brings a tapestry of experiences uniquely shaped by individual perspectives. While it’s widely acknowledged for its physical effects, cannabis also interacts with the mind in complex ways. Regular engagement with cannabis can lead to subtle shifts in-memory processing and judgement, a phenomenon particularly noteworthy in younger users. This alteration in cognitive dynamics may sometimes be linked to a measurable change in IQ, especially if cannabis use begins in adolescence.

Cannabis also presents a fascinating area of study in terms of mental health. Its use has the potential to trigger unique psychological states and, in some cases, may influence pre-existing mental conditions. It’s important to recognise the possibility of developing a deeper relationship with cannabis, known as cannabis use disorder, where the allure of its experience challenges one’s ability to abstain despite recognising its impact.

However, the journey with cannabis is deeply personal and diverse. While some may encounter these cognitive and psychological shifts, others may tread a different path. Embracing this journey with awareness and respect for its potential effects is vital to responsible use. Prioritising well-being and understanding the multifaceted nature of cannabis ensures a balanced approach to its exploration, safeguarding one’s health in the long-term adventure with this intriguing plant.

The journey of cannabis exploration is as diverse as the individuals embarking on it. It’s essential to approach this journey with a holistic understanding, appreciating not just the unique experiences cannabis offers but also being mindful of its varied impacts. Cannabis, for many, can be a source of comfort, whether for recreational enjoyment or medicinal relief. However, this journey is not without its nuances. Individuals may experience various effects, ranging from mild discomfort to more significant health challenges. These variations underscore the importance of approaching cannabis with respect and a commitment to responsible usage, ensuring it complements a well-rounded lifestyle.

For those navigating the complexities of cannabis dependency, recognising the value of seeking professional assistance is a crucial and empowering step. The availability of support systems and expert guidance provides a robust foundation for addressing cannabis addiction. Engaging with these resources isn’t just about overcoming a challenge; it’s about embarking on a positive path towards reclaiming one’s health and autonomy. Specialist healthcare professionals offer tailored support, helping navigate the path of recovery with expertise and compassion.

In summary, the cannabis journey calls for informed decisions and a balanced perspective. Whether you’re a casual user or considering cannabis for health reasons, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits against potential risks. By making informed choices, practising responsible use, and seeking professional advice when needed, you can significantly mitigate the risks associated with cannabis. Prioritising your health and well-being is key to a responsible and fulfilling cannabis experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the common side effects of cannabis?

Common side effects include alterations in senses and perception, mood changes, impaired body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, an increased heart rate, and, in some cases, anxiety or paranoia.

What are the negative effects of cannabis on long-term health?

Long-term effects can be serious and include the risk of lung cancer, potential for cardiovascular issues, respiratory problems, and Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. Mental health may also be affected over time, presenting risks such as impaired memory, cannabis use disorder, and an increased likelihood of experiencing psychotic episodes.

How can various methods of cannabis consumption impact your health?

Yes – vaping cannabis is safer than smoking. Smoking cannabis pure is safer than mixing it with tobacco. Chronic tobacco use is associated with many negative health implications.

Are there specific side effects associated with smoking cannabis?

Yes, smoking cannabis can lead to coughing, difficulty in breathing (tight chest), and respiratory infections if there are contaminants. Vaping cannabis can negate many of these things and avoid the inhalation of carcinogens found in smoke.

Can cannabis edibles affect you differently than smoking?

Cannabis edibles result in a delayed but prolonged effect that can last several hours, affecting cognitive and psychomotor performance. The potential for overconsumption is higher with edibles, which can lead to more severe issues such as extreme confusion, anxiety, or even toxic psychosis.

What are the risks of using THC-rich cannabis resins?

Using THC-rich resins, such as those in dabbing, deliver a rapid delivery of high concentrations of THC to the system. This can result in strong psychoactive effects and an increased likelihood of tolerance.

How does cannabis use affect pregnancy and reproductive health?

Cannabis use during pregnancy is connected to low birth weight and developmental problems in infants. It may also impact fertility in both men and women and can lead to reproductive health issues.

What psychological effects can regular cannabis use have?

Regular use can impair cognitive functions, disrupt learning capabilities, alter judgement, and lead to the decline of IQ over time. It also increases the risk of developing mental health issues or exacerbation of pre-existing mental disorders.

How can you navigate the risks of cannabis use responsibly?

Navigating the risks involves being informed about the various potential side effects, understanding the safe limits for use, being aware of personal health conditions that may be exacerbated by cannabis, and seeking help in case of addiction or negative health impacts.

Where can individuals seek treatment for cannabis addiction?

Treatment can be sought through specialist doctors, mental health professionals, or through specialised addiction treatment programs. Support groups and community services also offer assistance to individuals struggling with cannabis use. Please note that tobacco is both physically and psychologically addictive. If cannabis is consumed together with tobacco, it can manifest addictive tendencies which have been incorrectly blamed on cannabis itself.

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