Regularly smoking cannabis with tobacco also increases the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine and experiencing withdrawal symptoms from nicotine as well as cannabis if you cut down or give up.
Cannabis contains active ingredients called cannabinoids. 2 of these – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) – are the active ingredients of a prescription drug called Sativex. This is used to relieve the pain of muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis.
Trying to give up cannabis?
Regular cannabis use increases the risk of developing a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia.
Clinical trials are under way to test cannabis-based drugs for other conditions including cancer pain, the eye disease glaucoma, appetite loss in people with HIV or AIDS, and epilepsy in children.
The risk of developing a psychotic illness is higher in people who:
The higher the THC content in a product, the higher the likelihood of experiencing adverse effects/poisoning, especially if you are a first-time or inexperienced user.
Using cannabis frequently (daily or almost daily) and over a long time (several months or years) can:
Youth and young adults are more likely to experience harms from cannabis because their brains develop until about age 25. The earlier you start consuming cannabis, the more harm it can do. Footnote 11
Cannabis for medical purposes
For more information, please see the lower-risk cannabis use guidelines developed by Canadian experts in mental health and addiction.
Frequent use of cannabis over a long time can also harm important aspects of your thinking, like learning and memory. Stopping use can help improve these deficits. However, some of these harms may persist for months or years, or may not be fully reversible. Footnote 12 Footnote 13 Footnote 14
Avoid cannabis completely if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Substances in cannabis are transferred from the mother to child and can harm your unborn or newborn baby.
Everyone’s response to cannabis differs and can vary from one time to the next.
Two states have already legalized pot for recreational use. And since polls show that most Americans are in favor of the practice, it might not be long before joints are rolled and bongs are smoked in many more states without fear of jail time.
Jeanette Marie Tetrault, MD, FACP, assistant professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine.
Your Body on Marijuana
Moir, D. Chemical Research in Toxicology, February 2008.
There’s no proof that smoking marijuana causes lung cancer like cigarettes do. But people who smoke pot do show signs of damage and precancerous changes in their lungs, especially if they also smoke cigarettes. And a study published in 2013 in Cancer Causes & Control found that heavy marijuana smoking might raise the risk of lung cancer.
Although smoking is the most common way to use marijuana, some people bake it into a brownie or other food. Eating pot might spare you the lung effects of this drug, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe.