Marijuana use continues to be a hot topic. Legalization, allowing its use as well as dictating restrictions around its use have normalized this drug. However, despite it now being legal, it’s still a dangerous drug that can have harmful side effects, especially for teens and younger adults. Learn more about the potential impacts of marijuana and THC to understand why it isn’t a safe drug to use and why use should be limited or avoided, especially for teens.
Short-Term Effects of Marijuana Use
While using marijuana or right after using, short term effects can include learning, attention and memory problems, a distorted perception, poor coordination, poor motor skills, anxiety or paranoia, and an increased heart rate. While it’s not common, psychosis is another short-term effect of marijuana use. Those who smoke marijuana might not feel all of these effects every time they smoke, though the majority of people are impacted by poor coordination and poor motor skills as well as attention and memory problems whenever they smoke.
Mid-Term but Not Permanent Effects
There are some effects from marijuana use that last a few days but aren’t likely to be permanent. This includes learning and memory problems, as well as sleep problems. These are going to be more common for those who use marijuana regularly, though they can impact everyone who uses marijuana. In teens, these effects can impact their education, their ability to get good sleep at night and feel well-rested, and their ability to keep track of everything that might be going on in their life at the moment.
Long-Term Effects with Repeated Use
Repeated use of marijuana, especially frequent or daily use, can have long-term effects and risks. This includes long-term memory problems, risk of chronic cough or bronchitis, and a risk of increased chances of mental health issues. These are especially a concern for those who start using marijuana while they’re young because of the impact it has on their brain. Marijuana use can also lead to addiction and have a negative impact throughout a person’s life.
Marijuana Can be Addictive
It’s commonly believed that marijuana is not addictive, but for some people, it definitely is. Some of those who use marijuana will end up becoming addicted, which is where they will have trouble quitting even if they can see how it is negatively impacting their life. Right now, around 10% of people who use marijuana will have a marijuana use disorder, though some studies estimate that number could be as high as 30%. If they do quit, they can suffer some withdrawal symptoms, which may include irritability, inability to get to sleep, lack of appetite and weight loss, as well as anxiety and cravings to use marijuana again. Teens and adults who end up addicted to marijuana and who have trouble quitting can seek help through a rehab facility.
It is Not Safe When Driving
One of the short-term impacts of marijuana is impaired judgment. Others include impaired concentration, slower reaction times, and reduced coordination. Due to these impacts, it is not safe to use marijuana shortly before driving or while driving. After using marijuana, it can be difficult to judge distances properly and to react to what is happening on the road. This is especially a concern for teens who have just started driving, as they have limited experience on the road. Though most people do see marijuana as harmless and not a concern while driving, it is one of the most commonly found drugs identified in deadly crashes. Some studies have shown that a driver’s chances of being in an accident are doubled when they use marijuana before driving. If it’s combined with alcohol or other drugs, the chances of an accident increase significantly.
Daily Use Can Lead to Less Success in the Future
Something many people don’t realize is that marijuana use can lead to less success in the future, especially when someone starts using marijuana as a teen. It has been linked to failure in school due to the inability to pay attention and memory issues, as well as negative impacts on attention and motivation. This happens even after the impacts have worn off, especially for those who use marijuana frequently. It has also been linked to a lower income level as those who use marijuana may be functioning at a lower intellectual level and be more likely to drop out of school. Studies on those who use marijuana regularly for years have reported a poorer quality of life, including less career success, lower salaries, poor mental and physical health, and memory and relationship issues.
Marijuana Use is Linked to Mental Illnesses
There are current studies on the effects of marijuana, but a lot is still unknown. One of the things that’s still unknown is the link between marijuana use and mental illnesses. Short term impacts, though rare, can include psychosis. This can include hallucinations or a panic attack. Those who already suffer from schizophrenia may suffer worsened symptoms because of marijuana use. Marijuana use in teens also has the possibility of causing mental illnesses to show in those who may have already been at risk for one, though more studies are needed to see what the exact link is between the two. Marijuana use in teens may also increase the risk of some psychotic disorders in those who are already genetically predisposed to mental health issues, though more studies are being done to determine how this happens and the likelihood of it happening.
Though many do consider marijuana legalization a good thing, since it can have benefits for those who use it for medical reasons and the short-term effects may be less serious than other drugs, it is still a dangerous drug. This is especially true for those who start using marijuana as teens and who will use marijuana regularly as they grow. It is naturally grown, but that doesn’t mean it is not dangerous or that it won’t have some potentially serious effects, both short-term and long-term and especially for teens.