What Happens When You Smoke Marijuana Every Day?
Published on 3/6/21
Note: This article addresses recreational cannabis use. Patients who require medical cannabis on a daily basis to cope with the debilitating symptoms of diseases will not be considered here when discussing any negative effects of marijuana.
The popularity of cannabis use has never been higher. Reports from Colorado show that consumers have already purchased more weed by October 2020, than they did in all of 2019. Additionally, several states approved either recreational or medical weed use in the 2020 election and throughout 2021, so now there are now 18 states (plus the District of Columbia) where recreational use is legal and 36 states that allow medical use. With so many people lighting up we thought it would be wise to take a quick look at the toll that cannabis can take on the body when consumed on a daily basis.
How Cannabis Affects the Body and the Brain
Research shows that marijuana is safer to use than cigarettes and alcohol, and of course, there is a wealth of evidence that backs up that claim. But, as more people turn to weed as an alternative to nicotine or booze and trends like California Sober increase in popularity, it is important to acknowledge what cannabis does to the body, especially when smoking weed every day. What does daily marijuana use do to the cardiovascular system or the respiratory system? How does it affect the brain? What about the central nervous system?
The most logical place to begin is in the brain. It is, after all, the most important organ in our bodies and influences the way they operate. After inhaling marijuana, smoke enters the bloodstream where it eventually reaches the brain. When the principal psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) enters the brain, it binds with receptors and changes the way the brain operates. It sends new chemical messages to the Central Nervous System and alters several of the body's standard operating procedures.
- Memory: THC impacts the hippocampus where we process information and develop memory.
- Increased Dopamine: This produces the "high" that comes with cannabis and can heighten sensory perception.
- Slowed Reaction Time: Balance and coordination slow because of THC's interaction with the cerebellum and basal ganglia.
- Increased Appetite and Sex Drive
- Quickened Heartbeat
Smoking weed also disrupts the very important and influential endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how it maintains homeostasis. This means that the overall balance of the body becomes distorted.
Long-Term Side Effects of Marijuana
The body builds a tolerance to any substance when consumed regularly, and THC is no different. Studies prove that frequent cannabis use can cause a higher tolerance among users and diminish or even block some of the most common smoking weed side effects like confusion, anxiety and attention deficits. There are also some disorders, while rare, that scientists link to cannabis use that are very hard on the body.
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a condition that produces recurring and severe bouts of vomiting. While it is not very common and only occurs in daily long-term users of marijuana, CHS is terribly uncomfortable for people who suffer from it. Marijuana typically has the opposite effect of CHS, which makes this condition incredibly odd. Normally, weed reduces nausea and vomiting and increases appetite. Unfortunately, after repeatedly using cannabis, certain receptors in the brain stop responding to the weed in the same way. This leads to repeated bouts of vomiting, often experienced by people with CHS. It is not clear why some heavy marijuana users get the syndrome, but others do not.
Cannabis Use Disorder
Cannabis Use Disorder is another syndrome that can result from long-term chronic marijuana consumption. This ailment produces a variety of behavioral changes that mimic traditional addictive actions like an intense craving for marijuana, missing social or professional engagements due to cannabis use, unsuccessful attempts to decrease marijuana consumption and tolerance to the degree that there is a need for markedly increased cannabis to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
Other Long-Term Health Effects
There are also long-term effects on the cardiovascular system and respiratory system that come from the act of smoking cannabis. Over long periods of time, can result in a higher chance of stroke or heart attack. Smoking on a daily basis can negatively impact the respiratory system simply because your lungs are consistently exposed to smoke. Eventually overworking them and producing a chronic cough or even bronchitis.
While most of the conditions are rare, it is important to be aware of the negative side of smoking cannabis every day. Moderation is key, and taking a break from smoking or thinking about different ways to ingest weed can be incredibly beneficial to the body. Moving to a water pipe instead of a bowl or joint every day can ease some respiratory pressure. Of course, edibles remove any negative effects from smoking out of the equation completely. Taking a break from consuming cannabis can help clear the brain and the body and allow the ECS to reset and regain a comfortable equilibrium. Every day smokers who take even a day or two off from toking up will experience a more intense psychoactive experience when they return to marijuana use.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms linked to the syndromes and disorders listed in the article it is imperative that you see your doctor immediately. Luckily, illnesses like CHS are very rare, but they do exist.