Growing up I heard about the effects of marijuana from teachers and policemen; people in hazy cars, cutting class, failing their responsibilities and aspirations, all while having a dry mouth, red eyes, and a laziness that would make a spoon say “you had one job”. The effects of marijuana, like the word “drug”, were likened to impediments to the life you could have (PS: thanks DARE). It wasn’t until the legalization of recreational sale and use of cannabis in my home state that I thought to it was time to update my knowledge of marijuana’s effects.
Below I have compiled some information regarding the effects of marijuana I wish I had when I entered into the world of recreational cannabis.
Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid
Knowing which of these categories your buds fall under can clue you in on what mental and physical cannabis effects to expect.
- Indica: Known for the body high (a.k.a contributor to ‘couch lock’), Indica’s offer relaxing effects and are well regarded in assisting in the relief of pain. They are well known for helping the restless to bed and relaxing the weary.
- Sativa: More cerebral, creative, focused, and energetic. Perfect for outdoor activity or really any activity. I use them when I go to the gym or go on a long bicycle ride.
- Hybrid: A glorious mix of the two, often described as leaning one way or the other (and everywhere between). I, for example, use hybrids when I need to be awake, able to focus, and relaxed; the perfect mix of marijuana effects to write with.
The Concentration of Cannabinoids:
The effects of cannabis vary widely, sometimes even marked by plant to plant differences. As studies on the plants show, cannabis hosts over 400 natural components which are subdivided into categories of active components unique to cannabis, or cannabinoids. These cannabinoids can be psychoactive (producing a high) or non-psychoactive and each identified cannabinoid has specific effects on the human mind and body. Below I have listed the three cannabinoids that are most common and their associated effects:
- THC: (Definitely psychoactive) The effects of marijuana strains that are high in THC are associated with: relief of nausea and pain, increased appetite, and relaxation as well as it’s antioxidant, cancer fighting, and anti-inflammatory effects.
- CBD: (Non-psychoactive) Effects of cannabis strains high in CBD are known to: relieve pain, spasms, sleeplessness, nausea, symptoms of psoriasis or Crohn’s; act as a defense against cancer and is supportive of immune health; act as antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial; work to lower blood pressure.
- CBN: (Hardly psychoactive) Though less common among recreational users, strains containing a high concentration of CBN are often associated with relief of pain and spasms as well as insomnia.
The way marijuana effects the human mind and body and all of the active cannabinoids within the cannabis plant are being more and more understood as time goes on. A big barrier to good information comes from the illegality of the plant on the federal level in the US. Researchers struggle with being able to legally study cannabis effects on the body and brain, leaving much inconsistency between public opinion and the scientific data (when available). In as much as medical and recreational sales have led to higher numbers of data being generated for the analysis and study of marijuana effects on humans, the research of the plant itself is shifting the public opinion. Marijuana has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of a multitude of disorders, illnesses, and disease. It is through this widened scientific analysis on cannabinoids and how cannabis effects humans that the change in public opinion we are seeing around the country has been occurring.
The Path You Choose
While smoking is certainly the most well-known, cannabis effects the mind and body differently depending on how you take it. If you smoke it, the effects can be felt in minutes as opposed to the delay of eating them. The process of absorbing through the stomach takes a bit longer and generally produces a stronger body high. Typically, edibles take between 30 minutes to an hour to kick in. Transdermal (on the skin) patches and topicals absorb varying on where it is applied, but do offer long lasting absorption (patchs) and the ability to focus the effects on certain areas of the body (topicals and lotions). The lesson: cannabis effects everyone differently. Not only that, the way you chose to use the cannabis also changes how the marijuana effects your mind and body.
Common Cannabis Effects on the Brain
- Short term: Change in senses (depth perception changes, colors are more vivid, sharpness of sound, blurring of vision), changes in mood (giggly), relaxation, confusion, and impairment of memory.
- Long term: Possibly memory issues.
Possible Health Effects of Marijuana on the Body
People have a tendency to compare smoking weed with the known negative effects of cigarette smoking as a means of debating the health risks associated with smoking marijuana. If nothing else, this argument sheds light on the risk of smoking anything. The inhalation of combusted molecules into the highly vascularized space that is the human lung is debated as a contributor to breathing issues. I (mostly) avoid this by being an edible aficionado.
Marijuana effects on the body also include increased heart rate and the possibility of child development issues in those who are pregnant or nursing.
Possible Health Effects of Marijuana on the Mind
The way that cannabis effects an individual’s psychology are of serious debate. In the same way that some of marijuana effects have been linked to acute (temporary) paranoia and hallucinations in some people, causing shifts in behavior, the effects of marijuana are increasingly being shown to help anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues (schizophrenia, drug abuse/ addiction/ substance abuse disorders to name a few).
As a consumer and enthusiast of cannabis, the thing I like to remind myself is that in many places across the country and world, the reality of legal cannabis is far removed from the cultural reality; that is, education regarding how marijuana effects the mind and body is not enough to cope with the surge of positive views on cannabis use available today. It’s liberty– an anomaly of freedom– that allows medical and recreational sales to exist. This liberty can be squandered or squashed out if the public understanding of the effects of marijuana aren’t updated. I know this is not much but a brief overview, but hopefully it’s enough to make you that much more informed on how these cannabinoids interact with us humans.
Be careful AND curious and enjoy your greens!
by Joey Wells