THC is the main psychoactive cannabinoid compound found in marijuana; it produces a euphoric high. The potency of THC and the other cannabinoids found in marijuana vary plant to plant based on growing methods, geographical environments, delivery methods, or use with other substances. There is potential for a wide range of effects making marijuana an unpredictable drug at best.
Short Term Effects of THC
THC acts on certain cannabinoid receptors in the brain and alters memory, thoughts, perceptions, senses, pleasure, and coordination as an immediate response to ingesting the drug. The most common delivery method has been by smoking marijuana, but, new forms are becoming popular as THC and medical marijuana use continue to be accepted. As a medicinal drug, synthetic THC and other marijuana cannabinoids have proven successful in reducing seizures and treating certain neurological disorders, as pain relief, and to increase appetite and reduce nausea in AID’s and cancer patients.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most people who use THC experience a tranquil and calming effect, drowsiness, and a lack of motivation. On occasion, or in higher doses, some people may experience anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, or delusions. Memory and cognitive abilities are diminished with use of THC and it may result in difficulties thinking, ordering thoughts, solving problems, or other learning disabilities. Motor functions and coordination slow down and may create difficulties in accomplishing tasks.
Tolerance and Addiction to THC
THC tolerance does increase over time, but, because of various potencies, strains, and an insurmountable number of other use combinations, no one develops tolerance the same way. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “In 2012, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged close to 15 percent, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980’s.” It is possible to develop a dependency and addiction to THC, but, again, there are numerous factors that would influence the issue. Withdrawals are mainly psychological and may include moods swings, anxiety, depression, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, and decreased appetite.
Long Term Effects of THC
It may be easier to think of THC and marijuana use as one in the same and psychological dependence and addiction to THC occurs when individuals use it from an early age or regularly on a daily basis. The long term effects can include:
- Developmental problems in adolescents and young adults.
- Memory loss and other cognitive impairments.
- Smoking marijuana can cause lung infections or diseases.
- Impairments in immune system functions from the reduction of T-cells.
- Marijuana lowers blood pressure and at the same time increases heart rate leading to an increased risk of heart attacks.
- Chronic abuse of marijuana has been linked to schizophrenia and bipolar disorders
- Marijuana affects dopamine levels in the brain which regulates hormones, addiction behaviors, and acts as a “reward circuit” to reinforce use. Repeat disruptions of these nerve cells can cause many adverse effects.