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How Marijuana Affects Your Body

by Landmark Recovery

March 10, 2021
man thinking how marijuana affects your body


The House of Representatives recently voted to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, but the substance is still illegal. Have you ever wondered how marijuana affects your body?

Support for medical and recreational use of the substance is rising at all levels, and minds are being changed throughout the nation.

Reports show that one in eight people actively use marijuana while 43% of adults in the US admit to at least trying it.

There are many scientifically proven benefits to at least certain compounds found in marijuana, but that doesn’t mean that this substance is without risk.

Today, our goal is to delve into this leafy green issue and explore how it affects your body.


The flower buds, leaves, and stems of the cannabis sativa plant are dried, ground, and combined to make a substance known as marijuana.

Marijuana is known by many names – weed, dope, grass, and pot, to name just a few. Most people smoke marijuana, some vape it, while others consume it in food.

Marijuana has a different effect on everyone who uses it. The amount used, the way it’s consumed, and how often it is used all play a role in how marijuana affects the user, too.


Marijuana is known to contain mind-altering compounds that can have an effect on a person’s brain as well as their body.

The main chemical compound found in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is a psychoactive compound, and it binds to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors producing the high associated with the drug.

When a person consumes marijuana, the THC enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. When the chemical compound reaches the brain, it alters the brain’s production of dopamine. This is the neurotransmitter responsible for lighting up the brain’s reward center, allowing the body to feel pleasure and satisfaction, otherwise known as the high experienced by marijuana users.

The effects of marijuana are almost immediate, although they do take a little longer to kick in if the substance is consumed rather than inhaled.

The effects of the THC can wear off in as little as an hour though, so the high doesn’t last long.


While the use of marijuana is a hot topic in many circles, it does have several negative implications for the brain and body of those who choose to use it.


Marijuana use affects everyone differently. Some common experiences upon using the drug are increased appetite, delayed reactions, and drowsiness.

Some of the short term effects of marijuana include:

  •         Alteration of senses (seeing brighter colors, hearing better, etc)
  •         Altered sense of time
  •         Decrease in problem-solving skills
  •         Difficulty forming thoughts
  •         Increased heart rate
  •         Loss of coordination
  •         Loss of memories
  •         Mood changes

When taken in high doses, marijuana can cause hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis.


Long term use of marijuana can cause other problems for those who use the substance. Again, the severity of symptoms can vary widely between users. All of the effects below should be of concern to anyone who consumes marijuana.

Marijuana can have physical and neurological effects over the long-term. Some of these physical effects include:

  •       Damage To The Heart – We know that rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure are associated with smoking marijuana. Studies have shown that marijuana use increases a person’s risk of cardiovascular events, like heart attacks.
  •       Decreased Bone Health – The University of Edinburgh reports that using marijuana can negatively impact bone health by reducing bone density. This makes marijuana users prone to fractures and breaks. The study used DEXA-scans and discovered that users of marijuana tend to have lowered body weight and low BMI, which can result in low bone density.
  •       Impact On Fertility – Those who smoke or consume marijuana are more likely to face difficulty when trying to conceive a child. Research shows that men who use the drug have a low sperm count.
  •       Impact On Unborn Children – Using marijuana when pregnant can have a lasting impact on the baby. The use of this drug can result in low birth weight and can increase your child’s chances of having ADHD or other neurological problems.
  •       Increased Cancer Risk – Users of marijuana are three times as likely to develop cancer in the head and neck, when compared to non-smokers.
  •       Lung Damage – Marijuana is most often smoked, and this is why the use of the drug would result in damage to a person’s lungs. Researchers found that marijuana users experience respiratory health problems in much the same way that tobacco users do. Marijuana users can expect excess phlegm, chronic cough, high risk of infections in the lungs, and high frequency of chest illnesses.
  •       Loss Of Intelligence – People who smoke marijuana lose an average of 8 IQ points, and these mental abilities don’t return upon cessation.


Multiple studies have linked marijuana use to mental health issues. Not everyone will react the same way to the drug, as some people are helped by it.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that marijuana use can result in:

  •         Anxiety
  •         Depression
  •         Psychosis
  •         Suicidal thoughts


You can become addicted to marijuana contrary to popular belief.

Chronic use of the substance has been shown to affect the same structures in the brain as other addictive drugs.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has found that up to 30% of marijuana users will experience a “marijuana use disorder.”


If you or a loved one are struggling with marijuana use, you don’t have to face it alone.

Here at Landmark Recovery, we have the staff, skills, knowledge, services, and desire to help you get through your addiction so that you can lead a better life.

Contact us today for more information or call us right now at 888-448-0302.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.