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Marijuana’s Effect on the Brain

Marijuana's Effect on the Brain - brain scan - Fair Oaks Recovery CenterThere has been much research concerning marijuana’s effect on the brain.

Often described as the gateway drug, marijuana has become legal in many states and has become decriminalized in others. But just what exactly is marijuana’s effect on the brain?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes “marijuana as the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.” However, many people believe it to be completely safe and harmless. The fact is, marijuana’s effect on the brain begins immediately after inhalation. Once inhaled, THC goes from the lungs into the bloodstream and then travels throughout the rest of the body (NIH). Receptors in the brain are affected by marijuana, more specifically the THC in marijuana. THC makes these receptors become overactive which then produces the high feeling. Some effects of the over-activated receptors are “altered senses, altered sense of time, changes in mood, impaired body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving [and] impaired memory” (NIH.) Short term memory loss goes hand in hand with marijuana’s effect on the brain. Judgment and reaction time can become impaired, learning and retaining information can be effected, as well as a host of physical ailments.

Even though marijuana is extremely common and legal in many places, it does still contain negative side effects.

These cannot be ignored simply because of its gaining popularity. Some other physical side effects include rapid heart rate and upper respiratory issues. Some people who use genuinely believe than marijuana reduces anxiety, but this is not true for all. Some people actually experience increased anxiety and depression with marijuana usage.

Marijuana’s effects on the brain can impair development.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that people who consistently use throughout their teenage years and continue on into their adult years can lose approximately “eight IQ points between ages 13 and 38.” Marijuana’s effects on the brain can also pertain to fetuses. Women who use can cause damage to their unborn child. Truth is, there is no such thing as a completely safe drug, and marijuana is no exception.

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DrugFacts: Marijuana. National Institute on Drug Abuse. March 2016.