Everything Worth Knowing About … Marijuana

There’s Always A Downside

Plenty of promising research shows the pros of marijuana use, but also some serious cons.

Brain function and mental health: Long-term use could lead to panic disorders and psychosis. If you’re a longtime user who started lighting up in your teens, your hazy days could predispose you to depression. To top it off, repeated exposure to THC can have a negative effect on areas of your brain that deal with forming memories, like the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

Heart health: Even minor use of cannabis can cause your heartbeat to ramp up, and mess with your blood pressure levels and blood flow. (Research has shown both increases and decreases in blood pressure.)

Sexual and reproductive health: Men, if you’re looking for some action, best mind your marijuana habits: Chronic use can lead to erectile dysfunction and a decrease in overall sexual functioning (pleasure, orgasm, desire and arousal). And if you want to start a family, there’s more bad news. THC has been shown to restrict sperm mobility and its ability to fuse with eggs. Very heavy male users (who smoke eight or more joints daily) even risk reducing their sperm count. As for women, researchers have yet to really investigate how cannabis impacts them between the sheets, and studies looking at human female fertility have been inconclusive.

Dependence: You can’t overdose on cannabis, but you can develop a dependence. Up to 17 million people globally meet the official classification when it comes to cannabis. Hallmarks include inability to lessen intake, using even if you’ve had physical or psychological issues related to cannabis and spending more time than you’d like seeking to buy the drug and recovering from its effects. If you’re trying to kick the habit, expect symptoms such as mood swings, a lack of appetite and trouble sleeping.

Further reading: Handbook of Cannabis, edited by Roger G. Pertwe; Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana, by David Casarett