With growing visibility in popular culture and the recent revelations in India’s entertainment industry, weed or marijuana has garnered a lot of attention in the minds of the viewers. With the glamorisation of the substance because of the users we see on our screens, more people become curious and open to the idea of trying it out. Moreover, it’s not just on the screens that we see people smoking weed. Most are aware that there are marijuana users around us.
This might spur curiosity about the substance among some of us. If you’re looking to try it out, we insist that you first learn the effects of weed on body, and then make the choice responsibly.
What is this ‘high’ everybody talks about?
Imagine your mood being a line graph. Your careless happy moods would be the peaks and your irritable angry moods would be the troughs. When you consume marijuana, the chemical in this substance activates certain receptors in the body which lead to the user feel this ‘high’.
The neurons in the brain go into a mode where they become hyperactive causing the feeling of relaxation, and even almost never-ending trains of thoughts, and even a clouded sense of judgement.
Subsequently, pleasure sensors of the brain are activated, releasing high amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is the hormone that is responsible for the person to want or crave something. This is one of the reasons why the substance, like any other intoxicant, has garnered a negative reputation for having addicting qualities.
Now referring back to the line graph of your mood, remember that the peaks and the troughs, or the highs and lows in your moods do not mean that one is better than the other. As humans and being rational living organisms, feeling different moods is part of the experience, being better than the other, philosophically at least.
Getting ‘high’ sounds appealing. Why are people against it?
One thing that you must know about your body is that it gets used to dopamine. So when marijuana leads to the release of a certain amount of dopamine and makes you reach that ‘high’; for you to feel happy or excited about another thing, your body must produce dopamine in a volume greater than that certain amount released when you consume marijuana.
Since marijuana leads to the production of very high amounts of dopamine because of its chemical composition, it becomes difficult for everyday experiences to compete with marijuana. This causes cravings, and can ultimately lead to an addiction. This is similar to what happens to any addict – whether of drugs, alcohol, sex or something as basic as our phones and social media.
Are there any other effects of weed on body?
Other than the release of abnormal amounts of dopamine, there are other effects of weed on body. One obvious effect is that it affects your brain. Other than possibilities of developing an addiction, smoking weed can be the cause of anxiety, paranoia and clinical depression in some.
Secondly, even though intoxicants like alcohol and weed are used to get ourselves ‘high’, they are actually depressants. They cloud our senses and judgement and can lead to us perceive things that are actually not there, or not perceive something that actually is.
Moreover, it has effects on memory retention and creativity of the user. Since weed has a direct effect on the nervous system, it shows its maximum effect on our brain. Long time shows physical differences in their brains and has tested to show effects on those parts of the brain which are responsible for alertness, memory and learning too.
And in terms of creativity, studies have shown some results to this effect. Subsequently, the effects of smoking weed on the brain in the long term can even cause cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Thirdly, scientists have also found evidence suggesting that smoking weed can affect our blood vessels. The chances and severity depend on the frequency of use, but it does have the potential to damage them and even lead to hardened and clogged arteries.
And smoking weed, like any other smoke, affects the lungs too. The smoke not only has ill effects on the smoker but also affects others around them inhaling the smoke of the weed.
Are there no good effects of smoking weed?
Well, some researches show that smoking weed can cause bones to heal faster and even stronger. This has been linked to the presence of cannabinoid cannabidiol in the plant which allows minerals to be attached and absorbed better by the bone tissues.
Other effects of weed that can be seen as positives are they are used for medicinal purposes as pain relievers, reduce anxiety, muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis, and relief from nausea caused because of chemotherapy. And it is also used for patients to increase their appetite in order for them to gain weight.
How does weed affect body? How does it work?
The plant of cannabis or marijuana or weed contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is responsible for the user to feel the ‘high’. It binds with certain receptors in our body which causes this effect.
Other chemicals like CBD (cannabidiol) which help with the more wanted effects like anxiety relief.
Perception about weed?
With countries like Uruguay and Canada and even parts of the USA legalising recreational marijuana, it shows that the world has grown to be more accepting of smoking weed. However, it remains illegal or available only for medicinal purposes in most parts of the world. So there is limited acceptance only.
In terms of India, cannabis has been a part of some local culture and is consumed in festivals like Holi in the form of ‘bhaang’, and some cults of sages where smoking weed is a way of reaching a state of mind which is seen as a part of their spirituality.
But today, the only government recognised shops are allowed to sell the substance legally. A big reason for this is the lack of substantial research around the effects of smoking weed on body; and since maintaining the health of the citizens is seen as a responsibility of the governments, many of them are unsure of the safety around the consumption of the substance.