The psychoactive effects of cannabis are caused by the chemical compounds in the plant, which include 400 different cannabinoids. These compounds have various physiological and psychological effects on the human body.
While under the influence, acute effects can include euphoria. Another cannabinoid, cannabidiol, can relieve some of the adverse effects of THC.
Due to the federal restrictions on medical cannabis research, it is not allowed in the US. Even though it can be used for pain relief, inhaling it could carry the same risks as smoking cigarettes.
Cannabis use disorder is a medical disorder that is included in the fifth revision of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.
Most of the psychoactive substances found in cannabis are THC and can be produced by various strains of the plant. Some varieties, which have undergone careful selection, can yield up to 34% THC.
There are also similar compounds in cannabis that can’t induce psychoactive response but are required for functionality. These include cannabidiol (CBD), cannabivarin, and cannabinolic acid. Unlike THC, which is a psychoactive compound, cannabidiol is pharmacologically active.
Usually, the compounds in cannabis contain a variety of derivatized aromatic rings, a variedly dehydrolysed cyclohexyl ring, and a 1,1′-dimethyl-pyran ring. These components are known to have a family of about 60 bicyclic and tricyclic compounds.
Most cannabinoids are fat soluble and can be stored in fat to produce long-term elimination of half-life. They are easily detectable in drug tests.
No fatal overdoses with cannabis have been reported since 2001. A review published in February 2001 said that deaths due to acute cannabis use have never been reported.
According to the Merck Index, the maximum dose of THC that can cause death for male rats is 1270 mg/kg, while the maximum dose for female rats is 730 mg/kg.
It is important to note that while cannabis can help people feel high, it can also alter the metabolism of other drugs. For instance, it can compete with certain enzymes that are used to clear metabolic pathways.
A study conducted in 2007 revealed that while tobacco smoke and cannabis smoke are similar, the former’s contains higher levels of ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, as well as nitrogen oxides. Also, its lower concentrations of carcinogenic compounds were higher than those found in mainstream cigarettes.
There are over fifty known carcinogens in the tar of cannabis. Some of these include aldehydes, nitrosamines, and polycyclic hydrocarbons. In 2009, California became the first state to list marijuana smoke as a cancer agent. Despite this, awareness about the dangers of cannabis smoke is low compared to that of cigarettes.
When used immediately, the short-term effects appear within seconds. They last for about 3 to 4 hours, depending on the strain and the person’s tolerance to the drug. After ingesting cannabis, the onset of effects is delayed by 30 minutes to 2 hours.
When it reaches the brain, THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors. These receptors then produce anandamide, which mimics the effects of THC.
Some effects include a general alteration of subjective perception, increased appreciation of art, increased sensitivity to music, increased sensuality, enhanced recollection, and creativity.
Aside from paranoia and cognitive disorders, smoking marijuana can also cause severe emotional instability and panic attacks. It is the most commonly reported side effect of recreational use of the drug. About 30% of recreational users experience severe anxiety attacks after smoking.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, can reduce the effects of THC, which can cause anxiety and depression. It has also been shown to improve the mood of some consumers.
Other subjective effects of cannabis include an increased enjoyment of food and aroma, marked distortions in perception of time, and altered body image. At higher doses, these effects can lead to psychosis and dissociative states.
Any episode of acute psychosis that occurs after using cannabis is usually abates after six hours. In rare cases, heavy users may experience the symptoms for several days.
While some drugs are classified as depressants, hallucinogens, and stimulant, the effects of cannabis are more pronounced. It has the potential to be both hallucinogenic and psychedelic.
Some of the physical effects of cannabis use are as follows: increased heart rate; dry mouth; reddening of the eye; a reduction in muscle relaxation.
EEG shows that the alpha waves are slightly lower than usual. When activated, the brain’s response is depressed.
The duration of a person’s cannabis use depends on the amount of smoke and the method of consumption. It typically lasts about three to four hours.
When taken orally, the psychoactive effects last for about four to six hours. They are typically longer than the effects of smoking. Since they are taken in capsule form, they do not require the use of toxic combustion products.
Studies have shown an increased risk of getting into a car accident due to the use of cannabis. However, other studies have not found an increased risk. In some cases, the use of the drug has been linked to a negative effect on driving ability, such as being twice as likely to cause a car collision after consuming a small amount of the drug.
Although subjects under treatment for cannabis may perceive that they are impaired, they can still compensate by performing well under certain conditions. In a review of studies on driving simulators, researchers noted that even those who learn to compensate for drug-induced impairment can still be observed exhibiting substantial impairment.
A meta-analysis released in 2012 found that acute cannabis use was associated with an increased risk of an automobile crash. An extensive review of 66 studies conducted in 2013 did not find evidence of an increased risk of death or serious injury due to cannabis use.
The study, which was carried out by the US Department of Transportation’s NHTSA, found that although some studies measure the presence of THC in a driver’s blood or oral fluid, those studies tend to have lower crash risk estimates than those that rely on self-report.
A study revealed that the number of fatal crashes involving pot has significantly increased in several states following the legalization of the drug.
Short-term effects of marijuana on the cardiovascular system include increased heart rate and dilation of blood vessels. There are also reports of strokes and myocardial infarction. Although marijuana’s effects are not considered serious, they can have detrimental effects on a person’s health.
A study published in 2013 did not find a statistically significant association between pot use and mortality among heart attack survivors.
A 2008 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health’s Biomedical Research Centre in Maryland showed that chronic smoking of marijuana lowered the levels of certain blood proteins linked to heart disease and stroke.
A study conducted in 2000 revealed that a middle-aged person’s risk of a heart attack rises dramatically after smoking marijuana. The study noted that the risk increases by about fivefold within the first hour after using the drug.
Cannabis arteritis is a rare vascular disease that appears in about 50 cases per year in Europe. It’s similar to Buerger’s disease.
Inadequate studies on the effects of other recreational drugs, such as alcohol and nicotine, are often cited as a contributing factor to the development of effective drugs such as cannabis. Also, their usage is often linked to the development of symptoms of dependence.
According to the 2001 Australian National Household Survey, about 95% of cannabis users also drink alcohol. Many of them also take amphetamines and ecstasy. It has been suggested that the combination of alcohol and cannabis can affect the body’s ability to absorb THC.
Studies on cannabis and memory are limited by the small sample sizes and other factors. The strongest evidence regarding its short-term and working memory effects comes from observational studies.
In a study conducted in 2001, researchers discovered that cognitive deficits could be caused by heavy cannabis use for at least 7 days. The findings indicate that the effects of the drug are short-term and not long-term.
After stopping smoking, chronic users of the drug showed signs of difficulties with verbal memory. Within 28 days, their memory problems disappeared.
Dr. Igor Grant and his team concluded that long-term use of cannabis does not cause permanent brain damage. They said the drug can affect perception but not cause permanent damage.
Other functions, such as attention and language, were also affected by the use of the drug. The researchers said the effects were “of a very small magnitude”.
The increasing consumption of cannabis has been known to boost appetite. It has been observed that people who use the drug are more likely to eat than those who don’t. Studies also show that its effects on the brain’s reward system are associated with decreased hunger.
Neuroendocannabinoids, which are found in cow’s and soft cheeses, have been identified as the first neuromodulators that can control the appetite and survival of newborns. It has been hypothesized that these compounds could stimulate a suckling response in humans so that they can prevent growth failure.
Most of the microorganisms found in cannabis are harmless to humans. However, some of them can cause illness if they are not correctly stored and dried. For people with respiratory conditions like asthma, storing marijuana in a cool and dry place can help minimize the spread of these organisms.
Some of the fungi found in moldy cannabis include the Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Aspergillus niger. These organisms can infect the lungs and cause aspergillosis, which is a potentially deadly disease. They also create aflatoxins.
Smoke from mold-infected marijuana can cause fungal infections in the lungs and nasal passages. Some people even get sick from inhaling the smoke. A home oven treatment can kill the conidia of the plant.
It was linked to cases of salmonellosis in 1981. The bacteria Salmonella muenchen was also found in the plant.
Exposure to marijuana can have biological-based physical, behavioral, and social health effects. It is also linked to liver diseases, such as hepatitis C. Further research is needed to analyze the link between the drug and these conditions.
Cannabis use disorder is a type of mental disorder that requires treatment. Several drugs have been studied to treat the symptoms of this condition. These include dronabinol and bupropion.
A meta-analysis conducted in 2019 revealed that about 34% of people with psychosis who have used cannabis-induced psychosis eventually transitioned to schizophrenia.
Although it is not clear yet if cannabis consumption during pregnancy can affect the growth of the fetus and its offspring, it has been linked to cognitive and language disorders in children. A 2012 systematic review found that exposure to cannabis during pregnancy could affect the development of children.