The widespread recreational use of marijuana has brought about many discussions on its effects and risks. However, regardless of the legality of its use, marijuana will always have a considerable impact on the brain, which can be detrimental to one’s health. Marijuana’s effects on the brain can impact an individual at any stage in life. Understanding the drug can empower each individual to take the necessary action to prioritize a healthy, marijuana-free life.

Conflicting Information

There is much discourse around the use of marijuana, and it has caused many clashing ideologies. While some maintain that marijuana is the penultimate gateway drug that can lead an individual to look for ever-increasing highs in other, harder drugs, others situate its use as a barrier that keeps these same people from trying more intense substances. However, there is no completely safe way to use marijuana, and it carries several adverse effects on the brain, even if prescribed. Marijuana is never completely without risk, and its negative effects can quickly become incredibly prevalent.

How Marijuana Affects the Brain

Marijuana’s main psychoactive properties come from containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC.” THC acts by binding itself to nerve receptors in the brain and affects the brain’s ability to moderate mood, memory, and appetite. However, marijuana’s ability to inhibit receptors in the brain affects the rest of the body, too, compromising one’s reaction time, motor skills, attention span, and ability to focus.

Marijuana has also been tied to numerous other symptoms, including:

  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Altered perception
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Respiratory complications
  • Heart problems
  • Psychosis
  • Kidney damage
  • Brain damage

Marijuana’s addictive properties can also exacerbate these symptoms. The prolonged or heavy use of marijuana can further these physical, mental, and emotional consequences. Constant monitoring of one’s use and seeking professional help at a center for drug and alcohol treatment to cease recreational use of the drug is essential for coping with its lasting effects.

Studying Marijuana’s Impact

Marijuana is a hotly studied and debated substance, and numerous studies have produced eye-catching results. For example, The Globe and Mail published an article in 2005 detailing a study conducted by Dr. Xia Zhang that suggested that marijuana may be tied to the growth of brain cells. The study, conducted on rats, produced results that indicated marijuana’s ability to alter mood could be beneficial, alleviating feelings of depression and anxiety.

However, while this study has been at the center of much discourse surrounding the positive effects of marijuana, it shouldn’t be taken at face value. While standing by his findings, Dr. Zhang also conceded that there is a gap between brain chemistry — and, thus, potential benefits – between rats and humans. He also acknowledged that people might not necessarily respond in the same way as the rats in the study.

Marijuana’s Impact on IQ

IQ is a relatively rough metric that seeks to gauge an individual’s ability to reason. While it isn’t necessarily indicative of an individual’s skill set, studies have used it to gauge the impact of certain substances, such as marijuana, on one’s cognitive abilities. According to a study conducted in 2012, marijuana could be tied to a drop in IQ of up to eight points in chronic users. This effect can worsen if one heavily uses marijuana while one’s brain is still developing, such as in one’s teenage years and even early twenties.

While there are many different factors at play in these studies, such as one’s environment over the years between testings, the study still suggested that there is no positive correlation between the use of marijuana and IQ – rather, only the potential for damage to one’s brain.

Not All Marijuana Is the Same

Despite all of these tests and discourse around the negative and alleged positive effects of marijuana, utilizing these as a justification for recreational use is incredibly difficult. Marijuana’s effects on the brain are heavily dependent on the actual marijuana being used, with tests being conducted on lab-appropriate marijuana. 

While marijuana itself carries a number of effects on the brain and body, street-level marijuana can be cut with any number of other substances, all of which can significantly impact one’s body and mind in unexpected, dangerous ways. Cutting marijuana with other addictive substances, even other highly addictive drugs such as Fentanyl, greatly impacts the effects of its use, making it much more dangerous than any study could reflect.

Marijuana affects the brain in many ways, both in its immediate effects and symptoms to the prolonged effects of its use. Regardless of whether marijuana is being pushed to become legal, that doesn’t mean that it is a “safe” substance or that it isn’t dangerous in its own ways. Marijuana is an addictive, mind-altering substance, and its use should be professionally addressed for the health of one’s body and mind. 

Marijuana is a dangerous drug that drastically affects your body and mind. If you are looking for effective treatment programs in Hawaii, Hawaii Island Recovery can help you today. Located on the Big Island, we offer drug or alcohol treatment to help you at any stage of your recovery, from helping you take the first tentative steps into our detox program to residential drug treatment, partial hospitalization, and outpatient care. We understand the importance of overcoming addiction and drug use in a safe and supportive community. Our supportive, uplifting community and connections to traditional Hawaiian culture can help you embrace a new perspective throughout your transformation towards a healthy, sober lifestyle. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique station, call us today at (866) 390-5070.