When you smoke cannabis, the effects can come on as quickly as a few minutes and only last a matter of hours. Because the cannabis experience happens so quickly, we don’t always think about the long-term effects our cannabis habits might have.
Are there downsides to long-term cannabis use? What about potential health benefits? Keep reading to learn more about how extended periods of cannabis use can impact your body.
Short-Term Effects Vs Long Term Effects
Both the short-term effects and long-term effects of cannabis use will heavily depend on the cannabinoid content of the cannabis used and the method used to consume it. The experience a user might have with CBD-rich hemp will be drastically different than what they would experience with a potent THC strain because the two cannabinoids have significantly different interactions with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
In the short term, heavy THC strains will by far have the most noticeable effects. Users experience intoxication that can sometimes feel disorienting or change the user’s perception of time. Often there are palpable body sensations, sometimes described as a heaviness, that can leave users feeling lethargic.
Many THC users report feeling increased levels of creativity and insight, though sometimes this cerebral quality may manifest as anxiety or paranoia. It’s not uncommon for THC to raise a person’s heart rate but decrease their blood pressure, as well as increase the user’s appetite.
On the other hand, the effects of CBD-rich strains of cannabis tend to be more subtle. After using CBD, most report feelings slightly calmer and more relaxed, as well as a reduction in certain chronic pain symptoms. Some common side-effects include dry mouth, changes in appetite, and drowsiness.
The onset times of both CBD and THC will depend on how the cannabinoid is consumed. With inhalation methods, effects can be felt almost immediately, while oral consumption methods may take multiple hours to kick in.
Currently, we need more research into the long-term effects of cannabis use, but here’s what we know so far.
Long-Term Effects Of Cannabis
When most people talk about the long-term effects of cannabis, the conversation tends to center around the negatives. However, according to some research, there may be some long-term benefits as well.
Contrary to what you may have heard from the D.A.R.E representative at your Middle School, weed doesn’t “kill brain cells.” In fact, one study published in The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, found that extended cannabis exposure promotes neurogenesis and helps rebuild brain cells in rodent models. By offering alternatives to traditional pharmacological pain management options like opiates, long-term cannabis use can help chronic patients avoid the negative effects associated with opioids, leading to an increase in overall quality of life.
However, there are some potential downsides to long-term cannabis use, especially if that cannabis use begins during adolescence. For example, some studies suggest that extended use can lead to memory problems and increase the risk of psychosis or schizophrenia in those already predisposed to those conditions. While research indicates that smoking marijuana doesn’t contribute to lung cancer the same way tobacco smoking does, inhaling any sort of combusted plant material can have a negative impact on overall lung health.
This can increase the risk of certain lung conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and general respiratory discomfort. One way to mitigate these risks is to use edibles, vaporizers, or heat-not-burn technology like the elon® cannabinoid delivery device, instead of conventional smoking implements.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about how prolonged exposure to cannabis can impact the human brain and body. Hopefully, now that some of the stigma around cannabis is beginning to dissolve and more states have legalized the plant, it will be easier for researchers to conduct clinical trials uncovering more of the potential long-term side effects of cannabis use.