Cannabis induces a state of intoxicated relaxation, euphoria and dreaminess for users. It is considered a "soft" drug, and can pave the way for experimentation with other substances.
It is quick acting. When smoked, the pot's first effects are usually felt within seconds. The peak follows within minutes and then declines sharply after about forty five minutes, with a ninety minute tail-off.
You feel a general sense of well being and relaxation, giddiness and euphoria. You may also experience introspective dreaminess, increased appreciation of music, sleepiness and time distortion. The effects can be subtle. First time users often detect little or no effect.
The first sensation that using Mary Jane may produce is a sense of euphoria. The initial high evolves into a sense of calmness. The individual then feels very relaxed. In this state, a short time can seem like an hour. During this time, the pot smoker's senses are heightened and everything he or she sees, smells and tastes is different than normal. The change in color perception is aided by the dilation of the user's pupils.
Cannabis is also famous for stimulating the appetite (especially, it would seem, for Wheat Crunchies and chocolate flavored milk). These short bursts of extreme hunger are known universally as the "munchies" and sweet things are especially craved during this phase of the experience.
Along with the munchies, cannabis users are also prone to experiencing fits of uncontrollable giggling. Anything and everything is amusing at this time.
Some pot smokers report that their mood before lighting up a joint affects their mood while they are high. A person who is feeling happy may find that using marijuana intensifies those good feelings. Conversely, someone who is not in a good frame of mind who smokes weed may find that it acts more like a depressant.
The experience the pot smoker has will also be affected by the amount smoked. The method of ingestion (smoking or eating) also plays a role in the length and intensity of the high.
Physically, bloodshot eyes and a dry mouth are common symptoms, as well as a slight increase in heartbeat and impaired short term memory.
Cannabis increases heart rate but decreases blood pressure, like a car changing down a gear. Regular users gain tolerance to this effect.
In the Brain
Marijuana has over 400 different chemicals. Cannabis has two powerful active ingredients - THC and CBD (cannabidiol). Both substances are classed as cannabinoids - they produce psychoactive effects by binding with special receptors which are extraordinarily abundant all over the brain and body. Your brain makes its own cannabinoid - anandamide - which is thought to be involved in pain sensations, memory regulation and the immune system.
The ratio of these two substances determines the character and strength of the effect. Like fine wines, different strains of cannabis can have their own flavor and complexity, plus their own distinct high.
When pot is smoked, the body absorbs between 10-25 percent of the THC that it contains. The amount required to experience a high is relatively small, at only 10 mg. THC doesn't leave the body immediately after the joint is smoked. A certain amount (approximately 30-40 percent) of the THC is stored in the individual's body fat. It takes between four and six weeks for the THC to be undetectable in the marijuana user's bloodstream.
A Note on Eating Cannabis
If you take it orally, you could be in for quite a ride. The liver metabolizes THC into 11-OH-*9-THC, a compound three times more psychoactive. Oral cannabis is a powerful, almost psychedelic experience, very uncomfortable if you're not expecting it. The effects are slower to come on (1 to 2 hours) and last considerably longer (around 4 hours).
Side Effects of Pot Use
Cannabis can leave you feeling a little groggy and forgetful but little else. Depending on how much you've smoked and its character and strength, these effects can linger for hours or days.
Fertility Issues and Weed
Marijuana use affects males by lowering testosterone levels. A man's sperm count goes down, and the potency of his sperm is also affected. Women who use this drug are more likely to have interruptions in the normal cycle of ovulation. For females, even using weed occasionally has a negative effect on her fertility. If both partners use pot, these issues make it more challenging for them to conceive.
Pot and Pregnancy
Pregnant women who either use marijuana or who are exposed to second-hand smoke are at a higher level of risk of miscarriage. They are more likely to have complications during labor and delivery.
While the best scenario is to stop using pot before conception occurs, not all pregnancies are carefully planned. Stopping pot use as soon as pregnancy is suspected, if not confirmed, can lower the risk of a negative outcome for a mother-to-be.
Long Term Side Effects of Marijuana Use
Using weed regularly over a long time can lead to a state called "burnout." A person who is in this pattern tends to be inattentive. They can be described as dull, and being burned out from marijuana abuse affects their performance at work or at school.
Personal relationships suffer because the user just doesn't have the ability to fully participate in them. When burnout is especially pronounced, the pot user may not be able to respond to other people at all. They are in their own world.