Are There Side Effects of Smoking Pot?
Are there side effects of smoking pot, and do the benefits of medical weed outweigh the risks? Studies show a higher risk of heart attack after smoking. Coughing and wheezing are not uncommon. A universal truism says, 'someone dies of a prescription drug overdose every 19 minutes.' No one has ever overdosed on marijuana. Pot smokers widely see weed as being much safer than alcohol and other recreational drugs. Unfortunately, despite its relatively clean safety profile, cannabis remains on the list of FDA Schedule I narcotics. Indeed, adverse effects on a person's physical and mental health may be a reason. We ask, what are the side effects of smoking weed for medical purposes? Some effects may include:
A Possible Addiction to Marijuana
Cannabis can lead to both physical and psychological dependence. Marijuana smokers who start at a young age show a higher level of chemical dependency. The chronic use of large amounts of high potency weed strains may also play an adverse role in brain development.
Possible Heart Damage
Cannabis users have a rise in their resting heart rate. The blood vessels may dilate for hours after ingestion. These general effects stress the heart and make it work harder. The added work effort may lead to chest pain in marijuana users with heart disease (angina). Research suggests the risk of a heart attack may rise after smoking marijuana. Accordingly, those with heart disease need to use caution when using cannabis. One study finds herb users at much higher risk for stroke than non-users.
The physical effects of Indica or Sativa climax in 30 minutes. This increased heart rate slowly subsides after approximately 4 hours, as opposed to using edibles, droplets, and other methods. In these cases, THC and CBD take from 30 minutes to 2 hours to pass through the digestive system. When consuming these non-smokable forms, the effects can last up to 8 hours. The effect of edibles lasts longer than those of smoking pot.
The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute compares pot to tobacco. Both types of smokers expose themselves to the same range of chemicals. The lung effects of pot smoke compared to tobacco smoke remain unclear. The long-term use of cannabis can likely increase the risk of severe lung problems with injury to large airway cells, which may cause acute or chronic bronchitis. Wheezing and coughing with phlegm are also seen. Chronic pot smokers who are physically inactive have more symptoms. Here, the evidence suggests users who exercise and smoke pot have fewer lung symptoms. Persons who have an active lung infection (viral or bacterial) stand the risk of further lung irritation when smoking cannabis.
Some studies have shown that weed smoking does not obstruct lung airflow like tobacco. Smoking weed may increase the forced vital capacity (FVC). At this time, more evidence s needed to confirm and clarify this finding. Thus far, there's not much research comparing secondhand weed smoke to tobacco smoke. The toxins and tar found in weed smoke have raised concerns about exposure among children, asthmatics, and other high-risk groups.
Tobacco Plus Weed
The use of weed and tobacco together may lead to an increased risk of marijuana addiction. The credit is likely due to the result of smoking tobacco rather than weed smoke. Cannabis has the lowest dependency risk of all the recreational drugs used. This risk includes the use of tobacco cigarettes. Some studies suggest that cannabis may help the opioid crisis. It s observed that states with legal, medical weed see a decrease in deaths related to opioids.
Smoking pot can harm the immune system and the ability to fight disease. Persons with weak immune systems, such as HIV infection, are at a higher risk. So far, researchers have not found any clear link between lung cancer and marijuana smoking.
Social Anxiety Disorders
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is one of the top three most common mental health problems. SAD patients have fear and anxiety related to everyday social situations. These self-conscious persons second-guess themselves, often wondering if others are judging them. The persistent doubt in everyday situations often turns obsessive. Having social anxiety disorder often leads to awkward social situations. Physical symptoms of nausea and vomiting, sweating, or difficulty talking may occur. Marked anxiety interferes with meeting new people or keeping old friends. Talking, eating, or drinking in public can provoke severe anxiety.
Some people turn to cannabis to cope with their social anxiety symptoms. Unfortunately, using weed may put them at a high risk of developing worse mental health problems. The routine use of pot can worsen the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research often sees an association of a higher risk of psychiatric disorders. Some studies show higher rates of schizophrenic psychosis in pot users with SAD. The reasons behind these links are unknown. It is likely that higher amounts of weed used, the age at first use, and genetics may all play a role. Many people with social anxiety may be better off with other ways to deal with their disease.
Smoking small amounts of THC is linked with its treatment effects. However, with higher amounts, THC may show opposite properties leading users to feel paranoid. This is a biphasic response similar to other drugs with different thresholds. Drug tolerance depends on several factors. Wiring in the user's brain and the amounts of drug used may play a role. Cannabis CBD shows less of this effect. Vaping, smoking, and dabbing are the fastest ways for cannabis to act. Smoke enters the bloodstream after passing the blood-brain barrier. It takes users less than a minute to feel the psychoactive effects of whole-plant THC. The effects taper off sooner than with oral or topical delivery use.
Studies show that chronic weed use impairs short-term memory. Some pot users smoke to relax and forget about their problems. The more grass you smoke, the worse your working memory may get. Mental focus and learning depend on working memory to function. It allows for vital parts of the brain to remember and process new information. This is short term recall for new items, i.e., phone numbers or names that our minds need to store for a few minutes or hours. The JAMA Internal Medicine published a 2016 study looking at long term smokers. Users who smoked pot daily for five or more years did worse on tests of word memory. The more weed they smoked, the worse their word recall.
A Decrease in Motor Response
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that weed impairs reaction time and motor coordination. This impairment prompts warnings to avoid driving or working with machinery.
Studies show high levels of THC may moderate testosterone levels. The levels usually return to normal when users stop using their weed. Low testosterone can lead to fatigue, a low sex drive, and weight gain. The higher estrogen levels that go along with it may raise the risk of breast enlargement in men. These changes are some of the most unwanted after-effects of smoking cannabis. A high estrogen level also increases the risk of stroke and heart problems.
Cannabinoids affect the brain's appetite cells, leading to feelings of hunger. Otherwise known as the 'munchies,' These changes can lead to weight gain. Evidence shows that cannabis users may have both appetite and weight loss when stopping pot.
Poor Decision Making
Many users believe they are in perfect mental function when they get high. In reality, the thought processes for most people are dramatically different when they are 'high.' The altered state does not lend itself to making the best decisions. Although controversial, some studies show driving under the influence of pot can be just as bad as with alcohol.
Higher Potency Strains
Cannabis strains have markedly higher rates of THC compared to weed from just 20 years ago. Using these strains with THC as the main active ingredient may pose more significant health risks in the hands of young users.
Are there Side Effects of Pot Smoking with a Vape Pen?
Until very recently, vaporizers were thought to be a healthy way to smoke cannabis. With many states now reporting deaths from a vape pen-related lung disease, the notion of 'healthy' has turned on a dime. Let's first dig into the smoking devices used and the impact of smoking dope. It is essential to understand the difference between smoking and vaping. Vape pens do not burn marijuana. They use a lower temperature to activate cannabinoids, pulling the healthier CBD and THC cannabis components through the device. This 'filtering' maximizes the benefits of CBD and cannabis and lowers health concerns. Users benefit from a full scope of treatment properties of flowers. Users have thought of vape pens as a healthy option. Routine advancements in vape pen conveyance devices point the way to success, e.g., the cutting-edge refinement of the high priced Volcanoes. There is an enormous amount of R&D ongoing for other devices.
Vape-Related Lung Disease
All thoughts about vape pen safety changed in August 2019. The Food and Drug Administration regulates e-cigarettes, and recently, there have been cases of lung disease related to vape pens. The first vape pen related death occurred in Illinois. More than 450 persons since then have lung diseases related to e-cigarettes. The fatal complication appears as both a short or long-term effect. At the time of this writing, hospitals have reported sixty-four deaths.
The cause of pot vaping deaths is still unknown. Investigators are looking at high levels of vitamin E in vaped products. This vitamin additive may be a clue to the cause of the fatal effects of vaped pot products. Until we find a reason, we heed a real note of caution about vaping.
The CDC recommends against the use of e-cigarettes in certain groups. Pregnant women and adults who do not use tobacco products are on this list. Also, all people should consider not using e-cigarette products. Persons who continue to use them should monitor themselves for symptoms. The AMA has also weighed in saying e-cigarette users with these symptoms should promptly seek medical treatment. Suspect symptoms are cough, chest pain, or shortness of breath.
Other Ways to Smoke Herb
Cannabis users ingest in many forms. Oral capsules, topical ointments, or edibles are some of the ways. One of the primary ways to consume weed is by inhaling or smoking it. Example delivery methods for smoking pot include:
- Homemade pipes.
- Vape pens (for oil, wax, dabs, and liquid pot extracts as well as a smokable flower).
- Joints (rolling papers, hemp paper, or tobacco paper).
- Glass pipes.
- Hand pipes.
- Using water pipes (i.e., bong).
- DIY smoking methods.
- Blunts (i.e., emptied cigar).
- Use of a gravity bong.
- Poke a hole into a piece of aluminum foil
- Poke a small hole into an apple, etc.
- Cannabis Oils and Wax
The sticky resins found in oil and wax have higher cannabinoid concentrates. When using a vape pen with oil, wax, or another flower, you're smoking vapor. Vape pens activate the medical essence of cannabis. With the lower temperature, there is no ash, heat, or tar.
Do Weed Benefits Outweigh the Adverse Side Effects of Smoking Pot?
What about the other ways to smoke herb? Is smoking pot terrible for health, wellness, and longevity if you're not using a vape? There may be side effects of directly smoking pot flowers. The result of smoking weed compared to smoking tobacco in terms of lung health remains unclear. The American Lung Association found that smoking tobacco causes around 85–90% of COPD incidents. As of yet, there are no direct links between chronic weed smoking, bronchitis, COPD, or emphysema. Chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) is a form of long-term lung disease. Chronic bronchitis produces wheezing, shortness of breath, congestion, and many other symptoms. It is thought that one long-term effect of smoking weed may be to make these lung symptoms worse.
Some studies have established the physical health benefits of many cannabinoids. Many of these bind to and help some of our body's essential chemical connections. More research is required to discover all the health effects of cannabis.
Weed users have recognized its holistic benefits for centuries
The CBD in the cannabis plant is only one of 100+ cannabinoids found. It naturally supplants our endocannabinoid system and helps the health effects of smoking grass. CBD plays a direct role in maintaining the health of our brain and body processes. THC and CBD benefit chronic pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms. Seizures and Parkinson's symptoms improve, as well. Weed use also shows promise in weight loss and a host of other problems.
Cannabis has not been shown to help the direct treatment of breast cancer. Nevertheless, it is helpful for the side effects of traditional therapies. Studies have shown no link between routine marijuana smoking and the spread of cancer cells. Weed and its CBD or THC derivatives may help kill cancer-causing cells.
Users may develop a cough or have trouble with smoking pot. In comparison, given the side effects of traditional drugs, any cough from smoking weed seems minor. Furthermore, these side effects often subside by switching to edibles.
Smoking Weed vs. Taking Prescription Drugs
As we assess if there are side effects of smoking pot in a joint, blunt, pipe, etc., let's consider drugs used to cure the same ailments today. Lennox-Gestaut or Dravet syndrome patients may find herb a preferred choice over the usual medicines.
There are many side effects mentioned in drug ads or listed on the labels of non-natural, prescription drugs. Patients just don't experience these adverse effects when smoking weed. That said, one must also be aware there are critical cannabis-drug interactions you need to know.
Approximately 90 million Americans use weed every week. Many use both cannabis alongside prescription medicines. Some weed and drug interactions are a real threat. The National Institutes of Health is an excellent resource for more information.
Do Side Effects of Smoking Marijuana Slow its Acceptance in the U.S.?
With the number of weed users growing, 33 states have passed mmj laws. Despite having legal, medical herb in most states, some states are still risk-averse. Some states and cities still ban smoked marijuana for both medical needs and recreation. You can smoke weed in Florida, but not in Minnesota and Ohio. If you live in the Golden State, it all depends on where you live. A debate is raging in the United States courts over the terms and scope of use.
Let's evaluate the arguments on both sides of this debate. The wisdom of medical weed patients and heavy marijuana users is useful. So, is burning and inhaling cannabis terrible for you? AND if after you smoke weed, does a cloud of weed smoke affect your health?
We Need to Do More Research
CBD and THC interact in with our body's endocannabinoid receptors. Lack of clarity creates a need for well-devised long term studies. Doing controlled studies will define if the benefits of smoking pot outweigh the side effects of smoking cannabis. The National Institutes of Health now supports a broad range of research on the cannabinoid system. Having these types of studies will look at the long-term experience of pot smokers. Their design should control for weed users who don't smoke tobacco cigarettes. A blunt or joint made of tobacco paper is a form of tobacco use. Using these blunts or joints not made of 100% hemp paper is an issue apart from smoking pure herb.
Now, are the Side Effects of Smoking Pot Bad for You?
Is cannabis harmful to you when you smoke it? Should mothers consume marijuana before and after pregnancy? Medical science still does not fully know the costs or benefits of smoking weed. While many studies attempt to show the harmful effects of pot smoke, edibles are a great option if you're concerned about the long-term side effects of pot smoke.
For more information, visit the National Institutes on Drug Abuse.
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