The increased support for cannabis legalization in the United States could have unintended health consequences. While legal weed proponents often decry the health benefits, there are undeniable negative effects.  The substances in cannabis can be activated instantly by smoking it, which is associated with its own health risks. 

Effects on the Brain

When the smoke is inhaled, the active ingredient THC acts on cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Cannabinoid receptors are found all over the brain, but especially in areas related to memory, concentration, pleasure, and time perception. The active THC can cause users to experience hallucinations, delusions, impaired memory, and disorientation. These are usually short-term effects while the user still has active THC in their system. Cannabis is also associated with inhibiting REM sleep, which is when you are most likely to get your most restful sleep. 

Effects on the Heart

Inhaled cannabis immediately causes an increase in heartbeats per minute, with a rapid blood pressure drop. Cannabis can cause an increase of 20 to 50 beats per minute which can be deadly when combined with other drugs. A users’ risk for a heart attack is four times higher within the first hour of smoking. Smoking has its own heart-associated risks, too. Smoking can damage the lining of your arteries, which leads to a build-up of fatty discharge. Carbon monoxide in smoke can also reduce the amount of oxygen available in your blood. 

Effect on the Lungs

The lungs bear the brunt of abuse when users smoke cannabis. It can cause a daily cough and phlegm production, making your morning routine a chore. Many daily cannabis smokers have some of the same issue’s cigarette smokers experience. Daily cough, acute chest illness, and greater risk for lung infections from inhaling smoke are all issues. 

Does Smoking Weed Increase Chance of Cancer?

Only one study has been done on whether cannabis smoke actually increases the chances for cancer. That study found that weed smokers are three times as likely to develop cancer. However, the study has not been confirmed by any further analysis. What you should know is that cannabis smoke contains three times the amount of tar in cigarette smoke. Studies linking weed smoking with lung cancer are limited because of selection bias and small sample size. Researchers have yet to prove a definitive link to increased lung cancer in cannabis smokers, but that is because it is hard to research an illegal substance. 

Do You Need Help to Stop Smoking?

While cannabis may have medicinal properties for some situations, smoking every day for recreation may be bad for you. There are resources online if you need help quitting weed. You’re twice as likely to succeed at quitting smoking if you have a support group you can access. These resources can help you understand the underlying negatives of smoking weed and how it may be affecting your day-to-day life without you realizing it. Don’t let the increasing focus on legalization let you treat cannabis any differently. Marijuana is still a drug.