The Dangerous Side Effects of Marijuana Use

Written by Robert Castan | Edited By Editorial Team

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The Dangerous Side Effects of Marijuana Use

Marijuana’s surging popularity has delivered to America’s youth a myth of a harmless high. It is safer than many other prescription and illegal substances, but this claim has regrettably left many smokers disillusioned by a good feeling with no consequences. There are, however, side effects of marijuana use that can be dangerous.

Just like any other chemical, legal or otherwise, marijuana is a poison in too great or too frequent a dose. Chronic usage causes memory and motor control issues, respiratory damage similar to that of tobacco smoking, and increased cancer risks.

Effects of Marijuana on the Brain

Marijuana’s reputation stems from a poor understanding of how the drug affects the brain. The mind naturally produces endocannabinoids which regulate chemicals in the brain and throughout the central nervous system. THC, the active component in marijuana, replaces the endocannabinoids in the brain. This disrupts the roles they serve in muscle relaxation, inflammation reduction, and metabolic processes.

Marijuana overloads the endocannabinoids’ receptors in the brain, delivering a “high” to the user. Repeatedly overloading these receptors can dull the mind, prevent short-term memories from forming, and even produce false memories. The important role of these brain chemicals is the root of the psychological risks associated with smoking marijuana.

Side Effects of Marijuana - the effects of Marijuana on the brain

The Danger Marijuana Poses to Developing Minds

Because the brain is still in development until the age of 21, smokers who begin smoking before that age run the risk of permanently harming their brain. That harm can manifest itself in many ways, from memory loss to risk of psychosis.

Consuming marijuana before the age of 18 correlates with reduced IQ as an adult. The Dunedin Study, considered by some to be the best measure of the impact of marijuana and its related factors on the brain, reports these results. The study includes references to other concerns, such as narcotics and alcohol abuse, which are very dangerous and can also be present with marijuana consumption.

A fetus or newborn child is an often-overlooked “developing mind.” Health Canada has associated marijuana consumption during pregnancy with long-term memory defects in the child, and the toxins from smoking can be transferred through breast milk.

Side Effects of Marijuana - the effects on developing minds

Bodily Health Risks Associated with Marijuana

The effects of marijuana extend beyond the mind. Marijuana smoke consists of chemicals that the body must filter out, such as ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. Repeated exposure can damage the airway and lungs. Smoking marijuana “has some significant similarities to that of smoking tobacco,” according to the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Eating “edibles” or inhaling vaporized marijuana, are both relatively new and increasingly popular methods of consumption. They are thought to reduce exposure to the toxic chemicals and carbon monoxide. These methods do not, however, reduce the impact of THC exposure on the mind or body.

Long-term THC exposure has been shown to slow down reaction time and reduce motor control, due to the drug’s effect on the body’s nerves. The signals sent by the brain to trigger movement are slowed or dulled, leading to reduced or delayed coordination.

Testicular cancer tumors have also been associated with marijuana use in studies as recent as 2015.

Addiction: When it’s Time to Contact a Marijuana Treatment Center Arizona

The risk of addiction in marijuana is less dangerous when compared to other drugs, such as heroin or methamphetamines. Access to marijuana is as widespread as ever, with dealers, dispensaries, and medical marijuana prescriptions getting the drug into the hands of millions every day. Estimates say roughly 1 in 10 long-term users are addicted to the drug.

Despite the reduced likelihood of becoming “hooked,” it’s common for users to experience withdrawal symptoms. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, decreased appetite, and insomnia. These symptoms can be difficult to abate, and in some cases result in continued use. Psychiatric disorders are more likely to arise after continued use and may remain even after successfully quitting.

If these symptoms are keeping you or someone you know from quitting, it may be time to consider treatment options. There are no patches or pills developed to aid the process of quitting, but marijuana treatment centers are located throughout the United States and are trained to help.

What is the Verdict on Marijuana Use?

Medical and recreational marijuana will continue to spread across our country- so what do everyday Americans need to know about the effects of marijuana? We’ve broken things down into simple factors that you can use to know what to do.

Marijuana’s most dangerous risks:

  • Smoking marijuana before the age of 21 may harm their developing mind.
  • Smoking marijuana as a pregnant or new mother may cause long-term harm to your child’s memory.
  • Consuming marijuana in an unsafe manner, while driving or operating machinery, or combining recreational marijuana use with prescription drugs, alcohol abuse, or recreational drug abuse.
  • Smoking marijuana to ease any of the withdrawal symptoms listed above.
  • Friends or family have told the user that they have become withdrawn or changed personality since smoking the drug.

Contact SpringBoard Recovery, leading treatment center Arizona, today for help managing these risks.


  • MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/marijuana.html
  • WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/marijuana-use-and-its-effects#1
  • Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/55258-how-marijuana-affects-the-brain.html
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America: https://www.pnas.org/content/109/40/E2657.abstract
  • US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490047/
  • Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0028390815000076
  • National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26560314/
  • United States Drug Enforcement Administration: https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/methamphetamine

  • Author: Robert Castan

    Robert Castan is a member of the Executive Leadership Team at SpringBoard Recovery. Robert started his professional career as a house manager and has become an industry leader and trusted voice in the treatment world. He brings extensive knowledge of organizational growth, industry-leading outcomes, and comprehensive marketing to SpringBoard Recovery. Robert has been walking his own path of recovery for over 10 years. This path has truly driven his ambition to help make treatment available to others who are struggling with addiction. Robert finds great joy in traveling and keeping physically active, with an emphasis on biking. Robert resides in Arizona with his husband and two four-legged children.   The U.S. Alcohol Crisis, Still Deadlier Than the Opioid Epidemic   Zombies and Other Future Threats to the Health of American Youth Dire Mental Health: A Catalyst for Post-Pandemic Drug Addiction The Benefits of Rehab Center Staff Working Their Own Recovery Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Robert Castan on Successful Addiction Treatment and Entrepreneurship Castan: The road less traveled of addiction & recovery in Scottsdale Opioids & COVID Driving Phoenix’s Rising Fatal Drug Overdoses Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Successful Addiction Treatment Programs & Entrepreneurship

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