Marijuana is a dried plant that’s often smoked, like a cigarette. Both contain an ingredient that causes some quick effects on your brain, nicotine in a cigarette and tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC, in marijuana.
The one thing these two smokables don’t have in common is the right to possess them. Marijuana is illegal in the U.S., except in those states that have carved out a medical marijuana use exception to their law. But this medical use of marijuana is inconsistent with federal law, wherein no such exception exists.
When THC is introduced into your bloodstream, it slowly passes through your blood-brain barrier and acts on cannabinoid receptors. Once this potential toxin hits its mark, it influences your sense of pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, perception and movement. So, the high users experience is the caused by THC’s effects on your brain.
The feeling of well-being caused by the THC effects of marijuana generally lasts two to three hours. However, the effects on your motor control can last substantially longer.
Medical marijuana is being used to help treat several health conditions, such as:
- multiple sclerosis
- peripheral neuropathy
- chemotherapy side effects
Medical use of marijuana reportedly relieves some symptoms caused by these, and other, health conditions, like:
- appetite loss
- nausea, vomiting
- balance problems
- high intraocular pressure
There is no single best approach for reducing these symptoms in everyone, medical marijuana use is just one option.
Smoking marijuana is not the only delivery method for THC. Dronabinol is its pill form, which is approved by the FDA as an antiemetic. However, the THC in this form is not absorbed as quickly.
THC does cause side effects that some find too unnerving, for instance:
- distorted perceptions
- impaired coordination
- learning & memory problems
- anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia
- loss of control or sense of reality
- thinking & problem solving difficulty
Marijuana’s adverse effects may also put you at an increased risk of a heart attack. This heart problem is possibly due to an increased heart rate and effects on heart rhythms, causing palpitations and arrhythmias.
Also, marijuana smoke contains carcinogens, so it may have an effect on your lung health. And an unconfirmed effect is it acts as an immunosuppressant, thus reducing your immune system’s ability to fight infectious diseases.