Smoking marijuana has been a part of the US culture for several decades, while the addictive effects and legal status have been debated for quite some time, there is no doubt that the effects of weed can have a demonstrable effect on the psyche.
There is little debate on the physiological effects of weed. The inhalation of THC which is the prime ingredient in marijuana can cause definite physical effects which include the following;
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure and breathing.
- Discolored eyes
- Dry mouth
- Slower reaction time
- Increase in appetite
Normally these effects last for three to four hours, but the weed stays in a person’s system for up to 24 hours after inhalation. This can have an impairing effect even several hours after the high has gone away.
The psychological effects of weed have a pronounced effect with the most common feeling being that of euphoria, this feeling is the intoxicant that induces most weed smokers to keep using marijuana repeatedly. The other psychological effects of weed include;
- Anxiety or Depression: While each person has their own reaction, it can vary considerably between both of these conditions depending on a number of outside circumstances.
- Paranoia: Another of the common effects of weed, the feeling that you are doing something wrong or will get caught. Can be associated with feelings of anxiety.
- Random Thinking: A series of thoughts that have little to do with each other, this short attention span and focus on a random series of different thoughts are another of the psychological effects of weed.
- Passage of time: Usually a distorted sense where a person under the effects of weed is not aware of the passage of time, sometime with hours going by which may seem like minutes or vise versa depending on the person.
Most of these effects pass rather quickly after the feeling of being “high” is gone, though they can last somewhat longer and be reinforced if a person continues to smoke weed. Marijuana is addictive with rates reported by various sources as up to 30% of people who smoke weed will become addicted, at least psychologically depending on how much they smoke in a certain period of time.
Withdrawing from the addicting effects of weed includes feelings of aggression, anxiety, depression and a decrease in appetite. Whether weed is a “gateway” drug is still up for debate, though heavy pot smokers are more likely to use stronger drugs such as cocaine or heroin. What is not known is whether smoking weed causes these tendencies or if the person who smokes heavily is simply more likely by nature to try stronger drugs.
The effects of weed have been well documented over the past 70+ years of common use among young adults and now older Americans. There has been recorded substantial, long term negative psychological effects from smoking weed for those who have engaged in this activity frequently and for an extended period of time.