As of July 1, 2015, twenty-four US states have legalized medical marijuana use. However, even with almost half of the country legally behind cannabis, the drug is still controversial. Those in favor of marijuana stand behind the belief that there are few long term effects of using, while those against it say the opposite. They believe that not only are there long term effects, but that those effects can be severe.
Past studies on the subject have yielded mixed findings, so at this time more scientific research and long term studies need to be conducted before conclusive determinations are made regarding the consumption of marijuana.
Here are some potential long term effects of marijuana . . .
. . . on the Body
Hands down, the most obvious problem with long-term use of marijuana comes from the actual act of smoking the plant. Smoking, whether it’s marijuana, tobacco, or something else altogether, causes respiratory problems including but not limited to a chronic cough, wheezing, or other breathing troubles. Smoking, as we all know, also increases the risk of developing various forms of cancer and lung disease.
Marijuana can compromise the immune system by damaging cells and body tissue. A lowered immune system translates to a higher probability of catching communicable diseases.
Marijuana can interfere with the ovulation cycle and lower sperm count. For both men and women this means fertility can be affected through irregular periods, difficulty getting pregnant, and/or erectile dysfunction.
. . . on the Brain
A person’s ability to remember, concentrate, and think critically have been shown to dwindle when under the influence of THC. Continually getting high may cause slight erosion of brain processes.
Marijuana may be responsible for a slow deterioration of the brain’s pleasure center, causing feelings of depression once its high starts to wear off. Some long term users have also reported experiencing anxiety, paranoia, or bouts of psychosis.
Overall, several factors can contribute to an individual’s long term effects of using the drug. How much they consume, how often, when they first started using … all are to be taken into consideration.
A few words of caution; the younger a person starts, the more likely the effects will be severe because brains and bodies are still developing during those critical years. Also, if a person has a predilection for mental illness or depression, then marijuana will almost assuredly worsen the symptoms.