What are the long-term health effects of smoking marijuana?

The legalisation of medicinal marijuana in many parts of the world has paved the way for a surge of research into the health effects of cannabis on the human body. While our understanding of such matters is continually changing, we do know that there are some significant health concerns associated with long-term marijuana use that everyone should be aware of.

How does long term cannabis use affect the respiratory system?

Whether it’s tobacco or marijuana, inhaling any substance is going to harm your lungs. While the latter is undoubtedly less damaging than the former, the fact remains that many heavy, long-term cannabis users experience the same health effects as cigarette smokers. Ongoing coughing, bronchitis, wheezing and increased mucus production are some of the symptoms you might develop from years of daily marijuana use.

Does marijuana increase the risk of lung cancer?

This is a topic of much debate and so far the research is far from conclusive. Some experts believe that marijuana smoke contains the same cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke, while others claim that cannabis is relatively benign.

Marijuana smoke can also damage the tissue that lines the airways of your lungs, which can lead to a range of health issues. Whether or not this increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer is unclear at this stage; it is hoped that further research will offer a more definitive answer.

Can cannabis negatively affect brain function?

Studies indicate that heavy cannabis use may impact your memory, with the damage lasting for a week or longer after previous use. This effect may become more pronounced over time, depending on consumption levels.

Regular marijuana use (once per week or more) is also associated with depression, though whether this is causation or correlation is still a matter of contention. Other mental health problems linked with cannabis include anxiety and psychosis. In addition, high doses of marijuana can result in temporary psychosis, in which the user experiences hallucinations and paranoia, and may be unable to distinguish their visions from reality.

Cannabis is an excellent medicine for thousands of people around the world, though it does come with some long-term health risks that every user needs to be aware of.