Weed. Pot. Marijuana. Cannabis. Whatever you call it, its popularity is growing, and more and more countries are following Canada’s lead and legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
One of the biggest controversies around weed is the short-term and long-term impact it could have on users. Although initially thought to only have a negative impact, the tide is shifting with more people recognizing the benefits weed has to offer.
Science is still studying how marijuana works and its impact on the body and the brain. But, we are making progress and have some insight into the effects of cannabis on people.
What Is Marijuana?
Marijuana is made out of a cannabis plant. Once the plant has reached maturity – a timeframe that varies from plant to plant, it is harvested. The parts of the plant, including the leaves and stems, are often shredded and used to make different cannabis products. Though, users can typically buy a cannabis nugget if they desire.
There is more than one type of cannabis plant too. In fact, there are more than 1,000 different strains of cannabis on the market. Each strain is unique, and new strains are created regularly by crossing existing plants.
Each new strain will have a unique look, smell, flavour, and aroma. The effects of each strain are determined by the type of flower it is and the compounds it is made up of. Each strain does cause users to react a little differently.
Why People Use Marijuana
Everyone uses marijuana for different reasons, but some of the most common reasons people use cannabis include:
- To help ease anxiety
- To help get sleep
- To help reduce chronic pain
- To help increase appetite
- To improve social interactions
The effects people experience while using weed is unique to them. Often, the effects people have are what lead them to continue using cannabis, either regularly or occasionally.
The Effects of Marijuana
So, what effects does marijuana offer users? That depends on the strain, the dosage, and how it is taken. Some common effects of marijuana include:
- Feeling relaxed
- Calming feelings
- A feeling of euphoria
- Increased appetite
This is just a shortlist of effects. The specific impact of cannabis is dependent on the makeup of the particular cannabis strain.
The Types of Marijuana Plants
There are two different types of marijuana plants: indica and sativa. They have unique appearances and different effects.
Indica plants are characterized by their short, wide leaves. They are also typically bushier than their sativa counterparts. This particular plant is known to give users a full-body high, promoting relaxation and even causing drowsiness and increased appetite. Many people who use indica or indica-dominant strains do so at night due to these properties.
Sativa plants are taller than indica ones, with long, thin leaves. This type of plant gives users a head-high as opposed to a body-high. Those who use sativa plants often feel increased energy, are more alert, and experience euphoric feelings. Because of this, sativa or sativa-dominant plants are typically recommended for daytime use.
The Role of Cannabinoids
Marijuana plants contain more than 100 different cannabinoids, not all of which have been identified. Two cannabinoids play a big role in the effects of cannabis: THC and CBD.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the compound that drives what users feel when using marijuana. THC works by affecting the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). THC binds cannabinoid receptors in the ECS (the nervous system) and over-activates the ECS. This is how THC produces the intoxicating effects marijuana is most known for.
CBD, or cannabinol, is known less for the effects it offers and more for the benefits of using CBD. CBD is known for helping users relax, but it does not get users high, unlike THC. In fact, CBD tempers the effects of THC, giving users the benefits of marijuana without the high some people may find scary.
When choosing a cannabis strain to try, it is important to know not only the type of plant but also the THC and CBD content. A lot of THC will give users a very strong high, a high that may be too much for inexperienced users. But, if CBD is present, it can help soften the effects of THC.
Putting It All Together
When choosing a marijuana strain, knowing its makeup can help you determine the effects you will experience and whether or not it will help with whatever issues you are using cannabis for.
Let’s take, for example, the Purple Kush indica flower. This strain is indica-dominant with an approximate THC content of 22 percent—a high number. Based on what users know about indica plants and THC, users can assume this particular cannabis strain will be powerful and will offer feelings of relaxation and drowsiness, making it ideal for nighttime use.
7 Effects of Marijuana on the Mind and the Body
Depending on the type of cannabis you are deciding to use, your mind and your body will be affected, even if in different places. The effect of marijuana on the mind and the body are part of what makes weed so unique. Discover seven effects cannabis can have on your mind and body when used.
- Dopamine is released in your mind. THC triggers the release of dopamine, which is responsible for sending messages between nerve cells and plays a role in how people feel pleasure. When extra dopamine is released, people may experience increased feelings of pleasure.
- Your body will become hungry. Also referred to as “having the munchies,” many marijuana users report having an increased appetite while using cannabis. Although the science is still not 100 percent certain what causes this, it has been thought that this happens simply because people can taste and smell foods more acutely while high on marijuana. Another thought is that marijuana “flips the switch” in the part of the brain that quells the appetite, making people hungrier.
- Your blood vessels may expand in your body. One common but minor side effect of using marijuana is red eyes. This is caused because cannabis often causes blood vessels to expand, giving eyes a bloodshot appearance. Rest easy, though; this can be remedied simply by using eye drops.
- Your mind will slow down, allowing you to get some much-needed shuteye. Plants with high THC content are known for being a powerful sleep aid, which is why some people use marijuana for sleep. There are a few theories as to why this is. THC binds with CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which are involved in modulating sleep-wake cycles. It is also believed that THC mimics the effects of melatonin (and may even stimulate melatonin production), which plays an important role in helping people sleep.
- Your bones may get stronger. A study done at Tel Aviv University looked at the effects of cannabis on the broken bones of mice. Thanks to CBD’s ability to help minerals get into the bone tissue, bones became stronger and less prone to breaking.
- Your mind may distort your sense of time. Some marijuana users report hallucinogenic effects from marijuana, such as the feeling that time has either slowed down or sped up. This is believed to be caused by cannabis altering blood flow to the cerebellum. Although not everyone experiences these effects, plants with high THC content are more likely to cause this phenomenon in cannabis users.
- Your pain may go away. Cannabis, and CBD in particular, are said to be a very effective anti-inflammatory, helping relieve pain in users. These anti-inflammatory properties can help those struggling with chronic pain. Recently, science has begun to look at how this can help athletes recover from a grueling practice or a hard workout.
When to Expect Cannabis to Take Effect
While marijuana does have an effect on the user’s mind and body, it does take time for users to feel it. How long this takes depends on:
- How the cannabis is ingested
- The amount of THC and CBD in the strain
There are seemingly endless ways for users to ingest marijuana. And the cannabis market is only continuing to grow. Popular marijuana products include:
- Edibles such as cookies, brownies, and chocolate
- Oils and tinctures placed under the tongue
- Concentrates such as resin and wax
- Smoking via traditional methods or vaping
- Drink mixes, also known as THC mixes
Are you looking for a quick high? Oils placed under the tongue, smoking, and vaping offer some of the fastest hitting effects since this involves THC being absorbed in the bloodstream. Effects from smoking can last a few hours to an entire day, with the strongest high hitting around 30 minutes after inhalation.
However, edibles take longer to go into effect. Not only do you have to eat them, but they need to be digested by the body before you can experience all the edible has to offer. Edibles can take between 20 minutes to three hours for the onset of effects to occur. But, the high often lasts longer than it does when you smoke marijuana. It lasts around nine hours and peaks from one to three hours after consuming the edible.
Finding the Right Dose
When trying marijuana for the first time, trying a new strain, or cannabis product, the dosage is important. Although side effects of marijuana are typically mild, too much THC can lead to an intense high that can be scary for some users.
Certain cannabis products, like edibles, have pre-set amounts of cannabis and THC in them. This makes it much easier for people to know how much they are taking. Other products, like vapes, make it a little bit more of a guessing game since they do not contain predetermined amounts of cannabis.
When it comes to finding the right marijuana dose for you, remember to start low and go slow.
- Take a small amount of the product. That may be just one hit or a small edible.
- Wait for the effects to hit. This may take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Don’t rush it.
- Once you start to feel effects, take another small amount if needed and repeat the process until you find the right dosage for you.
Instead of slowly taking more in one day to increase the high, some users may increase the amount of marijuana they take each day until they reach the desired effects.
Should you take too much marijuana and find yourself on a bad high or simply just wanting to come down a bit, there are options. Consider taking a pure CBD product to help temper the THC’s effect on you. Other options include drinking water, taking a nap, or eating certain foods.
The Effects of Weed: In Conclusion
Cannabis is known for providing users with a variety of effects, including feelings of relaxation and even euphoria. It’s part of what makes weed so appealing to people.
With thousands of different cannabis flowers out there, the effects users may feel are endless. Knowing the makeup of your bud can help you determine the impact the weed may have on your body and mind.
Users should remember that everyone will react to cannabis differently. The high one person feels may not be the same for another. Because our bodies are unique, the way cannabis, specifically the THC and CBD compounds found in it, reacts within us will vary.
Science has only scratched the surface of the impact weed has on the human body and mind. While we have some ideas of the impact THC, CBD, and cannabis in general have and how these products give users the effects they do, we still have much to learn. Continued research may open the door for new uses for cannabis and lead to a better understanding of its impact on users, both long-term and short-term.