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What Happens in Your Brain When You Use Marijuana?

All drugs change how the brain works by changing the way nerve cells communicate. Nerve cells called neurons send messages to each other by emitting chemicals called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters link to molecules on neurons called receptors. This signaling process is affected by drugs.

When marijuana is smoked or vaporized, THC quickly travels from the lungs into the bloodstream, which transports it throughout the body, including the brain. Its effects start almost immediately and can last from 1 to 3 hours.

It can affect decision-making, attention, and memory for several days after use, especially in people who use marijuana regularly can last for many hours. Some people consume more and more in anticipation of a “high” and end up in the emergency room with unpleasant symptoms from too much THC.

Once in the brain, THC attaches itself to cells or neurons with special types of receptors called cannabinoid receptors. Typically, these receptors are activated by chemicals like THC that are naturally present in the body. This system is important for the normal development and functioning of the brain.

Most cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that affect pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. Other effects include changes in perception and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and impaired learning and memory.

It May Affects Your Mental Health

Not everyone has a pleasant experience with marijuana. This can often make you feel anxious, fearful, panicky, or paranoid. Marijuana use can increase your possibilities of growing clinical depression or worsen the symptoms of any mental sickness you already have. Scientists don’t yet know exactly why. In high doses, it can make you paranoid or out of touch with reality so that you hear or see things that aren’t there.

It May Impairs Your Brain

Marijuana can make it difficult for you to concentrate, learn, and remember. This appears to be a short-term effect that lasts for 24 hours or longer after you quit smoking.

But heavy marijuana use, especially during adolescence, can have more permanent effects. Imaging tests involving some—but not all—teenagers have shown that marijuana can physically change their brains. In particular, they had fewer connections in parts of the brain associated with alertness, learning, and memory, and tests show lower IQs in some people.

It May Harm Your Heart

Marijuana makes your heart work harder. Normally, the heart beats 50 to 70 times per minute. But it can jump to 70-120 beats per minute or more within 3 hours of the effects kicking in. The added strain plus tar and other chemicals in the pot can make you more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. The danger is even greater if you are older or already have heart problems.

Connection to Cancer Is Unclear

The researchers found no link between marijuana smoking and lung, head, or neck cancer. Limited evidence recommends that heavy marijuana use may lead to one type of testicular cancer. We don’t have enough information about whether cannabis can cause other types of cancer, including:

  • Prostate
  • Cervical
  • Bladder
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma