With more and more adults living in states that endorse recreational use, the question of whether to try marijuana or not is one we will all face. There isn’t a single answer for everyone. We all have our preferences.
Instead of trying to sell you, let’s answer some questions. If you try marijuana what is going to happen? Let’s explore the good things you might experience and look at some of the positive ways that people are using cannabis in their daily lives.
To balance things out, we also need to go over some of the possible downsides that could come from using marijuana. What are some of the side effects of marijuana use? Is marijuana addictive? By answering some of these questions, hopefully, you will have a clearer idea of what recreational marijuana is like.
Why might I want to try marijuana?
Users turn to marijuana for the feeling that it gives them. They enjoy the high that THC brings and the changes in perspective that it provides. People will use marijuana to elevate everyday tasks into exciting and engaging activities.
The creativity boost that marijuana gives you is what some people are looking for. It helps with freeing the imagination and seeing things from a different perspective.
The munchies are real. Your appetite will be stimulated, but unfortunately, junk food might be the most appealing thing. Eating meals is refreshing. The flavors and textures of your favorite foods pop and sizzle in new and novel ways.
Depending on the strain, it can be your chance to relax and unwind, or your motivator to get things done. Falling asleep becomes much easier with laid-back cultivars. It can be just what you need to melt away the stress of your day. Focusing on boring tasks like cleaning or chores becomes effortless with more intense strains. Active pastimes and exercise can get more enjoyable, simulating the natural runner’s high and encouraging you to get out there and get fit.
Taking in different media while under the influence of marijuana is an eye-opening experience. Your brain will find different connections, focal points, and appreciate details in another light. People find music has a new emotional connection and possibly a built-in light show. TV and movies seem brighter, more fantastical, and more immersive. The increased energy and focus that you get with certain strains translates to better reflexes and a more enjoyable gaming experience.
Marijuana replacing different vices
A big reason that consumers turn to marijuana is to help replace other vices in their lives. The prospect of replacing unhealthy habits or drugs with a natural plant is appealing to some. Many people who start using cannabis find that they tend to use less of other substances like, alcohol, tobacco, opiates, and narcotics.
Users commonly replace alcohol with marijuana as a fun substance and social lubricant. The absence of a hangover the next day is a big plus, you aren’t forcing your liver to process all the alcohol, and you avoid the empty calories that drinks like beer and wine are full of.
The biggest alcohol distributors have taken notice of this trend. Companies like InBev and Molson Coors are investing in cannabis product lines to offset future lost sales.
Tobacco users know that the habit of smoking is harder to quit than nicotine. The drug will detox from your system within a few days, but the social cues and routines of smoking persist long after. That’s why some people are choosing to feed their desire for the ritual of smoking with a joint instead.
Dealing with the stress of the day and easing into sleep isn’t something that is easy for everyone. Many people have turned to sleep pills, which are often habit-forming, to help knock them out. Now, consumers are starting to opt for the relaxing sedation that comes with an Indica heavy strain.
Replacing opiates for chronic pain one of the more exciting prospects for marijuana. More and more people are turning to marijuana as a safer alternative to habit-forming pain pills. Mitigating dangerous side effects with a natural plant while still getting relief appeals to those in need seems like a win-win.
Opiates aren’t only addictive, but as patients build up a tolerance they build up the doses or find stronger versions, escalating the problem until overdosing is a serious concern.
Is it addictive?
The question of whether marijuana is addictive or not isn’t as straightforward as it is for other substances like heroin, nicotine, or even caffeine. Cannabis doesn’t produce a lot of the hallmarks that we traditionally associate with addiction. There won’t be the hard withdrawal symptoms of a physical addiction if you quit using marijuana, and few people are willing to forsake personal relationships just to get high.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any risks, however. Just like we can become addicted to cheeseburgers or blackjack, psychological dependence can form if marijuana becomes too ingrained in your life. Cannabis use disorder is a condition that is even recognized in the DSM-V, which is the official manual for psychiatric diagnosis.
Some of the signs of this disorder include:
- Using large amounts of cannabis for extended periods of time.
- Constantly craving marijuana, and unsuccessful attempts to cut down on use.
- Spending too much time on activities revolving around acquiring, using, or recovering from marijuana.
- Allowing cannabis use to get in the way of social responsibilities and relationships.
- Ignoring physical harm to pursue marijuana use.
- Developing an incredibly high tolerance for marijuana.
Only a small fraction of users develop cannabis use disorder, about 9%. By the time that a user is that dependent on the substance, there may be mild withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, restlessness, or depression.
Like all drugs, marijuana isn’t perfect. Using cannabis will have some side effects. Not all users will experience them. For some of the short-term effects, they might indeed be the point. Whether you choose to use marijuana is up to you, but regardless you should know some of the possible problems you might encounter.
Short term effects
These effects are those of getting high. Some of them might be enjoyable, and some might drive you crazy. Some of the things you could experience include:
- Altered senses
- Distorted sense of time
- Mood changes
- Inability to move normally
- Increased heart rate for 3 hours after smoking
- Having a hard time thinking properly or performing problem-solving tasks
- Impaired memory
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Psychosis, in rare cases
Long term effects
Much like cigarettes, smoking marijuana long-term can irritate the lungs. Many of the same breathing problems that tobacco smokers have, affect marijuana users too. Things like chronic cough and phlegm are possible, as well as higher incidences of lung illness and lung infections.
Further research is needed but it is thought that marijuana can impair thinking, memory, and the ability to learn along with how the brain makes new connections between different areas. Some studies have shown drops in IQ of 8 points. However, the biggest effects are when young adults are regularly exposed, it’s unclear if starting to smoke as an adult has the same effects. Scientists are unsure of whether these changes are permanent or not.
Pregnant mothers who smoke may put their babies at a higher risk of brain or behavioral problems. Lower birth weights have also been documented.
While there are negative side effects of using marijuana, death isn’t one of them. There have been no documented cases of an overdose of marijuana. Taking too high a dose of marijuana might make you uncomfortably high, but you will still be breathing at the end of it all.
Trying cannabis can bring new life to everyday tasks and give you a different perspective on life. It can open you up to new experiences and expand what you believe is possible. Cannabis may be a worthy option to try to replace the bad habits in your life.
Conversely, marijuana isn’t without its issues. It may not be physically addictive, but there is a growing number of people who are psychologically dependent on the drug. You won’t die from using cannabis, but that doesn’t mean that you will be in perfect health either.
Before trying cannabis, take some time to think about what you want to get out of the experience. Consider if there is enough reward for you to be worth the risk. Marijuana can be a magical journey, but only if you are doing it for the right reasons.