6 things that happen when you smoke cannabis


There are many changes that occur in the brain and body when people smoke cannabis - even though it's the most widely used drug in the UK.

The active ingredient in cannabis is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and this latches on to what are called cannabinoid receptors in the brain and makes you feel high. Your body absorbs it very quickly.

Cannabis stimulates the brain’s reward system, which is also the same process that happens after taking heroin, alcohol or cocaine.

But it also does others things, too.

1. Your heart rate increases.

Cannabis can increase your heart rate by up to twice its normal rate, for up to three hours.

2. You get the munchies.

We have receptors that pick up cannabis in the hypothalamus part of the brain, which regulates appetite. Smoking cannabis artificially boosts the number of signals going to the hypothalamus, therefore making you feel hungry.

3. Coordination and balance is impaired.

We also have cannabinoid receptors in the cerebellum, which affects coordination, and in the basal ganglia, where it affects movement. Cannabis has been found to make people significantly more likely to crash their car.

4. Your memory is dulled.

The hippocampus becomes affected and this can mess with your short-term memory.

And using it in the longer term...

5. It increases your risk of mental health problems.

Cannabis can increase the risk of psychosis, which is defined by hallucinations, delusions and irrational behaviour, and can lead to schizophrenia.

6. It can impact brain development.

Research has found that smoking marijuana as a teenager can shrink memory-relates structures in the brain, which indicates a loss of neurons.

More: This is what happens if you smoke cannabis every week as a teenager

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