Cannabis (commonly called weed, marijuana, dope, pot, grass etc.) is the UK’s most popular illegal drug.
Cannabis affects everyone in a different way:
- you might have a happy, relaxed and chilled out feeling
- sometimes you might get more giggly or chatty
- feeling hungry (munchies) is typical
- colours appear more intense and music sounds clearer
- time might appear to be going slower
Cannabis could also have other impacts:
- those unfamiliar with it might have a sick or faint feeling
- you could become lethargic or sleepy
- your memory might be impacted
- certain people get confused, paranoid or anxious and some even get panic attacks or experience hallucinations – this happens more often with more potent forms of cannabis such as sinsemilla or skunk
- your ability to drive safely is impacted
Regular cannabis users might find themselves not feeling motivated and not interested in other life activities like work or education.
Long-term cannabis use might affect your ability to concentrate and learn.
Is Cannabis Addiction Possible?
Around 10% of cannabis users get addicted to it, according to research. Your chances of becoming addicted increase if you begin smoking it in your teens or if you use it on a daily basis.
Similar to other drugs that are addictive like heroin and cocaine, it is possible to develop cannabis tolerances. In other words, you have to take more to get a similar impact.
You might experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using cannabis, like trouble sleeping, mood swings, cravings, restlessness and irritability.
Smoking cannabis with tobacco might cause an addiction to nicotine and increase the chances of being inflicted with tobacco-related diseases like coronary heart disease and cancer.
If you quit or reduce your use dramatically, you will get withdrawal symptoms from nicotine and cannabis.
Cannabis and Mental Health
Psychotic illness like schizophrenia can develop if you use cannabis on a regular basis. Hallucinations (seeing objects that are not real) and delusions (thinking things that are not true) are results of psychotic illness.
Medical investigation has proved that those who have a chance of developing mental health problems are even more prone to start displaying symptoms of mental illness if they use cannabis on a regular basis. For example if a person in your family suffers from depression or schizophrenia, then you will be at a increased risk of getting these illness when you take cannabis.
Your chances of developing a psychotic illness increase if:
- you begin smoking cannabis at an early age
- you used stronger strains like skunk
- you use cannabis often
- you smoke it for extended periods
- you use cannabis and you also have a family history of other risk factors like schizophrenia
For those who suffer from schizophrenia, cannabis not only increases the chances of relapse it could also result in worse psychotic symptoms.
Cannabis Could Damage Your Lungs
Those who use cannabis often have an increased chance of developing bronchitis (where the lung lining becomes inflamed and irritated).
Similar to smoke from tobacco, cannabis smoke also has chemicals that cause cancer, however, there isn’t conclusive proof that it increases your chances of getting cancer.
If you combine cannabis and tobacco and smoke it, there is an increased risk of getting a tobacco-related lung disease like chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) or lung cancer.
Your Chances of Being Injured in a Road Traffic Accident Increases
Driving while high on cannabis increases your chances of getting into an accident. As a result, it is illegal drug driving, similar to drink driving.
Cannabis Might Cause Infertility
Studies of cannabis on animals indicate that it interferes with the production of sperm in men and ovulation in women. For women, research is indicating that THC can impair the ability of the female body to produce viable embryos, resulting in less chance of a viable pregnancy.
Cannabis Might Harm the Unborn Baby of Pregnant Women
Smoking cannabis on a regular basis during pregnancy has been shown in research to have a negative impact on the brain development of the baby.
Smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco on a regular basis increases the chances of your baby being born premature or undersized.
Cannabis Increases Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke
Smoking cannabis on a regular basis for an extended timeframe increases your risk of developing these problems.
Research indicated that it is the smoke from the cannabis that increases the risk, not the active ingredient in cannabis itself.
Is There an Increased Risk Due to My Age?
If you started using cannabis in your teens, there is an increased risk of harm including developing schizophrenia.
This is because your brain is still developing in your teen years and creating connections and cannabis has a negative impact on that process.
Are There Any Medicinal Benefits of Smoking Cannabis?
There is an increased risk of developing bronchitis (the lung’s lining become inflamed and irritated) for those who smoke it regularly.
Cannabis smoke, similar to tobacco smoke, has traces of a chemical that cause cancer, however, research has not been conclusive if this increases the risk of getting cancer.
Combining tobacco with cannabis and smoking it, you increase the risk of developing lung diseases that are tobacco-related, like chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
Want to Quit?
If you want to quit smoking cannabis:
- consult with your doctor
- check out Frank’s Find support webpage
- call 0300 123 6600 for Frank’s free drugs helpline
- go to Drugs: where to get help
This post has been updated since its original publication in 2018.