The Effects of Cannabis: Side Effects and Treatment Uses

Cannabis has a wide range of potential effects. Indeed, its versatility is part of what makes cannabis a useful medical therapy. The effects of cannabis are many, can vary from person to person, and are affected by ingestion methods, doses and frequency of use, the concentration of various cannabinoid compounds within the plant, and many other factors.

The Most Common Effects of Cannabis

Most users of cannabis will experience some or most of the following effects to varying degrees:

  • Feelings of mild euphoria, distorted or enhanced perception, or disassociation
  • Overall reduction in pain
  • Appetite stimulation and a greater enjoyment of food
  • Relaxation and stress reduction
  • Increased sleepiness
  • Increased joviality
  • Increased introspectiveness
  • Mild reduction of short-term memory formation
  • Redness around the eyes
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Increased decision-making time
  • Decreased intra-ocular pressure
  • Decreased attentiveness
  • Decreased visual tracking

Some of these effects, such as decreased intra-ocular pressure, pain reduction, muscle relaxation, and appetite stimulation, are among the most beneficial to patients suffering from a variety of illnesses. Others, such as decreased attentiveness and visual tracking, can be detrimental in certain situations, such as driving a car.*

Long-Term Effects of Cannabis

Many studies have been done on the long-term effects of cannabis, but these are usually inconclusive. A small percentage (<10%) of habitual marijuana users seem to develop a psychological, though not a physical, addiction. Memory and recall may or may not be affected, though serious long-term use does seem to have some association with decreased memory.

The Effects of Smoking Cannabis

The effects of smoking cannabis can include negative impacts on lung function, but association with lung cancers or cancers of the throat or mouth have not been strongly correlative. Heavy marijuana users with respiratory cancers are usually also heavy users of tobacco cigarettes. Any potential negative impacts of smoking marijuana can be mitigated by using different ingestion techniques, including eating or inhaling through vaporizers.

As with any drug, there can be negative side effects to cannabis, especially when not used responsibly. But the medical benefits of cannabis for patients suffering from numerous conditions may far outweigh any negative effects in many cases. A qualified medical practitioner can tell you if you are a good candidate for the medical marijuana program.

* Operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis is illegal and can bring serious consequences in New Mexico. Always use medical cannabis responsibly.