What is Marijuana: Benefits, Side Effects, and Legality?

Cannabis leaves are held up by someone

Marijuana leaves and buds of the cannabis plants, have many uses and effects. Some people love to use it for recreational purposes, while others use it medicinally. Besides that, some smoke and vape marijuana or consume it with food and drinks.

Despite its attention-deriving botanical name, marijuana has many mental and physical effects. This article offers an overview of marijuana, and the possible benefits and side effects. You might experience while using it. It also offers an overview of the legality and states where you can use it legally.

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as weed, pot, or herb, is a greenish-gray or brown crumbled part of the cannabis sativa or cannabis indica plant. The dried leaves and flowers are known for their ability to alter how the mind functions due to their strong psychoactive effects.

Hemp Vs. Marijuana

Both hemp and marijuana plants come from the same species, and that’s why people often confuse them. However, they are not the same and have different effects on consumers. Legally, marijuana is a cannabis plant with more than 0.3% THC, while hemp is a cannabis plant with less than 0,3% THC. Both of them also contain other cannabinoids, including CBD.

Effects of Marijuana on Our Brain and Body

Marijuana has compounds that influence the user both mentally and physically. It can result in short-term effects such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Poor memory
  • Increase heart rate
  • Acute psychosis or panic
  • Impaired decision-making or judgment
  • Inability to effectively drive or handle heavy machines

Adverse effects resulting from long-term use include:

  • Addiction
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Chronic bronchitis and other respiratory issues
  • Increased risk of developing psychosis and schizophrenia

How Is It Used?

You can use marijuana in several ways, including:

  • Inhaling using bongs or glass pipes
  • Smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, i.e., joints, or marijuana cigars, i.e., blunt
  • Drinking tea that’s brewed with marijuana or eating food products that are mixed with it.
  • Inhaling vapor using devices such as vaporizers

Why Is Marijuana Used as Medicine, and What Conditions Can It Help Treat?

History indicates that people have been using marijuana for medical reasons, with data going back to 5,000 years. Marijuana is used as a medicine because it contains many cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, which have many health properties.


Besides that, people are turning to it as an affordable and effective source of alternative medicine since it doesn’t produce adverse side effects, unlike prescription drugs.

Since it normally influences mental and physical processes, some of the conditions it can help treat include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Arthritis and inflammation
  • Loss of appetite that’s related to AIDs, cancer, and other underlying medical conditions.

How Does Marijuana Make You High?

The only reason marijuana can make you high is the presence of the psychoactive THC content. THC acts on neurological pathways, creating different mental and physical reactions.

Due to its psychoactive properties, THC affects how your brain normally perceives the world around you. it makes you feel intoxicated, euphoric, or “high.” THC works by stimulating the part of the brain that responds to pleasure, giving you a relaxed and euphoric feeling.

How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

The general effects of marijuana usually fade after a few hours. However, marijuana products contain high THC content, which can stay in your system for days or weeks. A single marijuana use means the THC compound can remain detected in your urine for up to 3 days.

If you are a heavy user, then THC can still be detected up to 30 days after one use. The more you use marijuana, then the longer it will remain in your system.

Risks of Using Marijuana

Is there a risk of using marijuana? Well, that’s the big question that many people are usually worried about. If you are a pregnant or lactating mum, then you should use marijuana and put your infant at risk.

Research studies indicate that children whose mothers consume marijuana while breastfeeding or pregnant might end up experiencing cognitive issues. Reports indicate that such children have problems with impulse control and memory retention, especially as they grow older.

Reports also indicate that such kids are more likely to use marijuana later in life. From this, it’s evident that marijuana has a brain impact. Therefore, certain groups of people are at serious risk of using marijuana products. It’s important to note that consuming marijuana while pregnant is now considered child abuse in around 24 states.

What Happens if I Take Too Much?

Not everyone uses marijuana in the same way. They are those who use it occasionally and in low amounts. There are those who also use it frequently and in high amounts. So, what happens if I take too much of it? Well, every marijuana user usually reacts differently to it. That’s why you might find some people may experience a high feeling of euphoria. Meanwhile, other people may not feel anything at all.

There are those who might experience negative side effects and may opt not to use marijuana again. The kind of effects also depends on the way you consume your marijuana. For instance, consuming edibles orally means that the effects might take longer to appear.

Meanwhile, once the effects kickstart, marijuana can stay in your body for more than 6 hours. If you opt to smoke, you will feel the effects sooner and disappear quickly. The general side effects of taking too much marijuana include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Increased thirst
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations and paranoia

According to NIDA, there are still no reports of someone dying from excess use of marijuana. However, it’s still important that you use marijuana products moderately to avoid unwanted side effects.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Addiction is generally common to drugs such as alcohol and cocaine. However, constant and heavy use of marijuana can result in potential addiction. This means that it can be impossible for you to stop using it even if you really want to.

Current reports indicate that around 1 in 10 adults who usually use marijuana normally end up getting addicted. Your chances of developing an addiction are higher, i.e., 1 to 6 if you are under the age of 18 years.

In 2015 alone, almost 4 million in the US met the diagnostic criteria for addiction or marijuana use disorder. Out of this number, only 138,000 people voluntarily sought professional assistance for marijuana use.

Why Is Marijuana (Mostly) Illegal, and Where Is It Legal?

Marijuana is mostly illegal since it’s classified federally as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that the government believes it has a high potential for abuse and has no medical use. Thus, cultivating, processing, and distributing marijuana is illegal at the federal level.

As of June 2022, 38 states in America have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis. This includes Alaska, Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Florida, New York, Alabama, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Please take note that each jurisdiction has its unique way of regarding the conditions that cannabis can be prescribed.

Besides that, each has its legal framework regarding the amounts and processes of issuing medical marijuana products to qualified residents.

Final Thoughts

Marijuana is commonly used for entertainment purposes. It has the psychoactive THC content that normally alters how the mind functions, resulting in euphoric highs. However, marijuana also has other cannabinoids, such as CBD, which help promote wellness.

As a result, you can use it to treat chronic pain, anxiety, arthritis, nausea, and vomiting, among other conditions. But while using it, ensure that it’s in moderate amounts since higher doses can result in unwanted side effects.

It’s also important to understand that marijuana isn’t legal federally in the US. As a result, ensure that you understand your state’s laws before you start cultivating, processing, distributing, and using marijuana.



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