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Cannabis Effects

From the Australian Drug Foundation

The effects of any drug (including cannabis) vary from person to person. It depends on many factors including an individual's size, weight and health, how the drug is taken, how much is taken, whether the person is used to taking it, what it's being taken for (for example, stress) and whether other drugs are taken. The effects also depend on the environment in which the drug is used - for example, whether the person is alone, with others, or in a specific social setting.

When people are affected by cannabis they are said to be "stoned" or "high". Traces of THC can remain detectable in urine samples for days, even weeks, after use.

Immediate effects
Small quantities of cannabis can have effects that last 2 to 3 hours after smoking.

Relaxation and loss of inhibition:
Cannabis can make the user feel happy, relaxed, and comfortable. They may feel less inhibited, friendlier and laugh spontaneously. Sometimes people become quiet and reflective. They may also become sleepy.

Increased appetite:
Cannabis often increases the appetite and leads to snacking on junk food, "the munchies."

Affected perception:
Cannabis can increase awareness and the perception of colour, sound and other sensations. It can affect vision and perception of time and space.

Less coordination:
Cannabis decreases coordination and balance, making it dangerous to drive or operate machinery.

Thinking and memory:
Cannabis can affect memory and the ability to think logically. People can lose track of what they are saying or thinking. When affected by cannabis, some people may think as though they've had profound ideas or insights.

Other common immediate effects include increased heart rate, low blood pressure, faintness and reddened eyes. There also can be a "hangover" effect, like drowsiness and poor coordination that lasts for several hours after the initial effects.

In greater quantities
Larger quantities of marijuana make the above effects stronger, and also tend to distort a person's perceptions.

Very large quantities of marijuana can produce:
- confusion
- restlessness
- feelings of excitement
- hallucinations
- anxiety or panic, or detachment from reality
- decreased reaction time
- paranoia.

Occasional use of small quantities
Currently, there is no evidence that occasional use of small quantities of cannabis causes any permanent health damage

Long-term effects
Research in Australia and the USA [and the UK] shows evidence of some long-term effects in some regular cannabis users:

Respiratory illness:
Marijuana cigarettes have more tar than tobacco, placing cannabis users at an increased risk of respiratory illness such as lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. This risk is increased because marijuana smokers often inhale deeply, and hold the smoke in the lungs longer, to increase the effects of the drug. Cigarette smokers who also smoke cannabis have an even greater risk of respiratory disease.

Less motivation:
Many regular users, especially young people, have reported that they have less energy and motivation so that performance at work or school suffers. Usually these effects disappear gradually when cannabis use stops.

Brain function:
Concentration, memory and the ability to learn can all be reduced by regular cannabis use. These effects can last for several months after ceasing cannabis use.

Cannabis can affect hormone production. Research shows that some cannabis users have a lower sex drive. Irregular menstrual cycles and lowered sperm counts have also been reported.

Are you Dependent?
If you want to measure whether cannabis still works for you or would like to cut down or quit please visit our Are you Dependent? page.