Cannabis health effects

Using cannabis has short-term and long-term health effects.

Short-term health effects of marijuana

Short-term health effects of marijuana may include the following:

  • feeling high (euphoria), relaxed and happy
  • having a sense of well-being
  • experiencing heightened sensory: sight, taste, smell, and sound

While smoking cannabis you may also experience unwanted and unpleasant effects such as anxiety, confusion, sleepiness (fatigue), fear or panic.

Some of the short-term effects of cannabis on your brain can include impaired ability to remember, concentrate, pay attention and react quickly. Sometimes marijuana use can also result in psychotic episodes characterized by paranoia and hallucinations.

Short-term effects on your body can also include:

  • decreased blood pressure, which can cause people to faint
  • increased heart rate, which can be dangerous for people with heart conditions and can lead to an increased risk of heart attack

Every time cannabis is used it can:

  • Impair your ability to drive safely or operate equipment. Cannabis can slow reaction times, lower your ability to pay attention, and harm coordination. Using cannabis and driving can result in a car accident, serious injuries or death.
  • Make it harder to learn and remember things. After using cannabis, you may have problems paying attention, remembering or learning things, and making decisions. Using cannabis can reduce your ability to perform well on the job or at school.
  • Affect mood and feelings. Cannabis use can cause anxiety or panic.
  • Affect mental health. Cannabis can trigger a psychotic episode (not knowing what is real, experiencing paranoia, having disorganized thoughts, and in some cases having hallucinations).

Long-term health effects of marijuana

Long-term effects develop gradually over time. Using cannabis regularly (daily or almost daily) and over a long time (several months or years) can:

  • Hurt the lungs and make it harder to breathe. Cannabis smoke contains many of the same harmful substances as tobacco smoke. Like smoking cigarettes, smoking cannabis can damage your lungs.
  • Affect mental health. Using cannabis regularly and continuously over time makes you more likely to experience anxiety, depression, psychosis, and schizophrenia. Higher-strength cannabis products (such as concentrates like “shatter”, wax, dabs) can worsen the mental health effects of cannabis use. Stopping or reducing cannabis use can improve outcomes.
  • Make you physically dependent or addicted. It is estimated that 1 out of 11 (or 9%) of those who use cannabis in their lifetime will become addicted to cannabis. This rate increases to 16% for those who start using cannabis during adolescence and up to 1 out of 2 people who smoke cannabis daily.

These effects can last from several days to months or longer after you stop using cannabis. They may not be fully reversible even when cannabis use stops. Other long-term effects of smoking cannabis are similar to the effects of smoking tobacco. These effects can include risks to lung health.

Cannabis and young people

Youth are especially vulnerable to the effects of cannabis, as research shows the brain is not fully developed until around age 25. This is because THC, the substance which gives the “high” in cannabis, affects the same machinery in the brain that directs brain development. The higher the amount of THC in cannabis, the more likely one is to be harmed by it.

Cannabis use that begins early in adolescence, that is frequent and that continues over time is more likely to bring about harms. Some of those harms may never fully go away.



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