Negative Effects of Marijuana on the Body
With the legalization of marijuana in Canada in October of 2018, came an increased acceptance of using the drug recreationally and medicinally. (It became legal for medicinal use in July 2001 in Canada.) Although there have been proven benefits to its usage especially for those suffering from chronic pain, there still are numerous negative effects of marijuana on the body that cannot be ignored.
As an educator and lifelong learner, I am interested in anything that either impedes or improves our ability to learn but also on our bodies to function efficiently. For instance, there are certain foods that improve our brain function while other foods are actually damaging to our cognitive processes. It is no secret that whatever we ingest – foods, chemicals, drugs – impacts all of our bodily systems.
Let’s examine some of the various negative effects of marijuana on the body.
#1. An Increase in Depression
Many individuals who experience depression want to attempt to manage their illness without medication and often turn to marijuana. It causes them to feel removed from their negative emotions of depression. However, with this numbing of emotions comes an inability to deal with the feelings that put them in a depressed state, to begin with. It becomes an unending cycle of feeling depressed, reaching for marijuana, feeling more depressed and so on – just one of the negative effects of marijuana on the body.
It is important to acknowledge our feelings and allow ourselves to feel them. It is a part of becoming more emotionally aware. It isn’t necessarily easy to deal with negative situations and feelings but in order to progress and move forward, it is essential. And it isn’t something that needs to be done alone. Reach out to family and friends and even medical professionals if that is required.
#2. Loss of Motivation
When many of us think of those individuals who are regular pot smokers, we often envision the stereotypical slacker. Research has shown that dopamine levels in the brains of regular users are decreased. Dopamine is known as the “feel-good” chemical in the brain – it is what gives us the drive or motivation to continue learning and accomplishing things.
Think about the last time that perhaps you received accolades for a job well done. It feels good, doesn’t it? That is the dopamine at work. And when those levels are decreased in the brain, it gives the individual permission to be lazy. There is little to no motivation to get things done.
Consequently, with no motivation to get things done leads to laziness and obvious weight gain. It becomes harder to be self-disciplined and accomplish one’s goals.
#3. Increased Heart Rate
People who use marijuana experience a significant increase in their heart rate, upwards of a 100% increase! This usually occurs almost immediately after smoking but can last several hours.
If you are one who already experiences high blood pressure, you could be putting yourself in a very dangerous position.
#4. Lung Damage
With ingestion of any type of smoke – cigarettes, campfire, marijuana – our lungs become irritated and even damaged. Marijuana smoke contains various chemicals and tar that may even cause cancer and lung disease.
Smoking can cause chronic inflammation, difficulty breathing, and even sometimes chronic bronchitis compared to those who do not smoke. You may also find that you become susceptible to lung infections like pneumonia as your ability to fight off such infections is compromised.
#5. Lower Fertility Rates
Although it may not be visible to the naked eye, marijuana usage affects the sperm and eggs of users – one of the negative effects of marijuana on the body that most people do not realize. In men, the activity of the sperm is affected. Normal, healthy sperm tend to conserve their energy so that it can be used to penetrate the egg to conceive. However, with marijuana users, the sperm becomes highly active and as a result, does not possess enough energy to make the long journey.
In women, marijuana usage can lead to delayed ovulation or even prevent ovulation from occurring at all. A woman’s menstrual cycle can also be disrupted, leading to decreased fertility rates.
So if you are trying to conceive, it would be wise to quit smoking or ingesting marijuana or at least take a break from it. The good news is that the effects can be reversed in a matter of months if you refrain from using it completely.
#6. Decrease Motor Learning and Control
Marijuana usage impairs your motor skills and overall coordination. Like with any drug, your brain is affected and because your brain is the control center of your system, the messages it sends to your muscles are altered or delayed.
Many people would believe that this is only the case while being high. However, because the THC can stay in your system over 30 days, your coordination and muscle control can still be affected without feeling “high”.
#7. Weakened Immune System
The THC in marijuana makes you more vulnerable to various infections and diseases as it suppresses your immune system. Chemicals in the drug actually increase the number of myeloid-derived suppressor cells which leaves your immune system unable to protect you fully from illness.
Although there are many foods that you can eat to boost your immunity, your immune system may be so suppressed that they will not be as effective compared to that of a non-smoker.
#8. Impaired Judgement
THC affects your ability to process information and process information accurately. As a result, you are unable to make well-informed and rational decisions. Poor decisions obviously can result in negative consequences.
Young marijuana users are even at more risk of permanently affecting the decision-making portion of their brains. Our brains are not fully developed until approximately the age of 25. Therefore, it is more susceptible to anything that will alter or affect it.
Think about that for a moment. If the average age that people begin smoking pot is age 16, then that is almost a decade of usage that is harmful to the developing brain. This can have very serious long term consequences that may be irreversible.
Although it comes from a plant and is therefore touted as “natural” does not mean there are no negative effects of marijuana on the body. It contains a multitude of chemicals that have a great impact on the body in a negative fashion.
Find ways to cope with stress and deal with your emotions in more healthy and productive ways.
Your time is now, people! Face that world head-on and rise up and be better!