According to old and outdated studies, there are plenty of dangers of cannabis consumption. However, recent studies have shown that the dangers of cannabis consumption are significantly less than the amount and significance of the positive effects of marijuana consumption.
Related: The Effects of CBD on the Human Body
In this article, I want to emphasize the dangers of cannabis consumption by shedding light on numerous negative effects and dangers which come along with weed smoking and cannabis consumption. However, it’s important to keep in mind that they are not always the causality but often correlations of cannabis consumption.
Please note that I am not a medical professional and cannabis might be illegal in your country. So, conduct your own research and talk to your doctor.
One study concludes that ‘increasing evidence suggests that early and heavy cannabis exposure may increase the risk of developing a psychotic disorder. The relationship between cannabis exposure and schizophrenia fulfills some but not all of the usual criteria for causality’. What’s more, a Cambridge study suggests that ‘[…] cannabis initiation increases the risk of schizophrenia, although the size of the causal estimate is small. We find stronger evidence that schizophrenia risk predicts cannabis initiation, possibly as genetic instruments for schizophrenia are stronger than for cannabis initiation’.
On the other hand, there are studies implying that ‘[…] CBD has beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia’. Thus, people with genetic disposition may have an increased risk of schizophrenia, but CBD seems to help those who already suffer from it.
Paranoia and anxiety
One study suggests that CBD helps against paranoia and anxiety, while another study found that recent cannabis use was associated with negative long-term symptomatic and treatment outcomes of anxiety disorders. It goes on to state that ‘the findings should be interpreted with caution, considering the observational designs across studies and the biases associated with the samples […]’.
In fact, there are numerous studies hinting at CBD helping against anxiety and paranoia and that it can be a useful treatment. However, THC is the chemical compound, or cannabinoid, which is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Just like every psychoactive substance, it affects your mind and can intensify your emotions.
As a consequence, smoking cannabis illegally can lead to anxiety by itself. It has been reported by many cannabis consumers from countries where it is illegal to consume cannabis that negative thoughts, doubts and fears tremendously increase after the consumption. Some say it’s the fear of getting caught performing illegal activities that causes anxiety. What’s more, one of the studies suggests that, in regard to anxiety, THC needs to be balanced by CBD to elicit the best effects.
The balance between CBD and THC is a very important key factor to ensure the positive effects of cannabis. With the steady increase in THC potency of today’s strains, the study’s authors advise that medical cannabis users ‘seek out cannabis with CBD levels of 10 percent or higher.’ Unfortunately, more THC means less CBD. With popular events like the Cannabis Cup, growers aim to cultivate the highest THC potency.
While most of us know how strong the strains have become in Amsterdam, it is a worldwide trend that THC potency is gaining significantly. In fact, a study from 2016 found that the level of THC in 38,600 marijuana samples rose from about 4 percent in 1995 to about 12 percent in 2014.
Lack of motivation
One of the most dangerous side-effects of marijuana consumption is the overwhelming feeling of contentment to such a degree that you stop striving for improvement, pursuing goals and moving forward. And this actually makes a lot of sense if you think about the fact that dissatisfaction is the number one cause for motivation. In contrary to the findings of several studies, which concluded that there is no link between a lack of motivation and cannabis consumption, it is widely reported that cannabis consumers have less motivation in their everyday lives.
This lack of motivation naturally leads to lazy behaviour, which makes efforts like cooking less attractive. Not seldom do marijuana smokers pick unhealthy food choices since many of the processed foods deliver instant gratification when the munchies are about to kick in. Many consumers end up cutting corners when it comes to a healthy diet.
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, verbal learning, memory and attention are functions that are most consistently impaired by acute and chronic cannabis use. While many users are very aware of the short-term memory loss induced by cannabis consumption, another study concluded that once cannabis use was discontinued, the effects disappeared in users abstinent for a time horizon of several months.
While the long-term effects on memory are not fully examined, cannabis is said to be potentially very helpful to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Nevertheless, as a daily cannabis consumer, you will experience tremendous difficulties in retrieving your short-term memory, which can lead to worse performance in your work life and some might assume that you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Lungs and tobacco
Not only is smoking very harmful, even if you renounce tobacco and smoke pure cannabis, but most cannabis smoking folks are mixing the magnificent flower with nicotine-containing, toxic tobacco. Either because they are already addicted to tobacco, because of cost reasons or simply because they prefer it this way. Moreover, it is estimated that more than eight million people die from diseases like lung cancer and cardiovascular disease, illnesses that are specifically associated with tobacco smoking.
Related: Healthier Cannabis Consumption
In contrast to the U.S., where only eight percent of cannabis smokers mix their herbs with tobacco before smoking, nearly 90 percent of cannabis consumers from European countries roll their joints with tobacco, or to be more precise, prefer spliffs over blunts.
Smoking tobacco not only reduces your lung’s capacity to function but tobacco is also said to be the cause for almost half of the deaths from twelve different types of cancer, according to researchers from the American Cancer Society. To make matters worse, those studies all reference to cigarettes, which contain a filter to screen out tar and nicotine to make the cigarette ‘less harmful’. Consequently, smoking without a filter is even worse than smoking filtered tobacco. At the same time, most spliff smoking folks don’t use active charcoal tips, but use plain paper which is essentially not a real filter.
All of that makes cannabis consumption very dangerous, especially because the nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive and said to be among the five most addictive drugs, along with cocaine and heroin.
In fact, according to the Walking Times, a study claims that the most harmful and addictive drugs worldwide are tobacco and alcohol. Consequently, the nicotine addiction increases the frequency of your cannabis consumption, if you’re mixing your herb with tobacco, and excessive THC consumption is known to tremendously increase your risk of psychosis. Moreover, heavy cannabis consumption can lead to the Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, with symptoms ranging from ‘nausea, vomiting and moderate to severe abdominal pain lasting one to seven days’, according to the TheGrowthOp.
What’s more, if you use cannabis as a sleep aid, it could actually impair your sleep cycles, especially if you want to quit cannabis consumption. Addiction is a very bad thing to deal with, but conflicting it with your need of sleep takes it out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The German hemp association ‘Hanfverband’ collected a list of various extenders and impurities that can be found in weed that is being sold on the black market. This list includes things like sand, talc, sugar, hair spray, glass, spices, lead, phosphorus/potassium, fertilizer, PK13/14 and mold.
Certainly, it is very hard for researchers to give an accurate number of cases which involve impurities due to the dark figure of contaminated cannabis sold on the black market. But it is a prime example of why cannabis legalization is so important: the black market creates severe health hazards for cannabis consumers.
Insecurity and Self-Doubt
If you have insecurities, you put yourself at risk of becoming even more insecure and full of self-doubt if you decide to consume cannabis on a daily basis. Among the acute side-effects of marijuana are a dry mouth, memory loss, confusion and paranoia. This can lead to a worse self-image, as you experience yourself and your actions less clear-minded.
Additionally, the dry mouth can lead to hampered communication skills, which in turn can make you feel even worse about yourself if you had the courage to take part in the conversation and all that came out of you was an unintelligible babble. The acute form of paranoia can put you in a constant state of questioning and worrying while you are high from the THC.
According to a study featured on Bloomberg, cannabis smoking is associated with higher sperm count. Another study found that ‘there was little overall association between female or male marijuana use and fecundability’. Furthermore, a study from 2017 suggests that THC can affect the proper development of a fetus and concluded that THC can affect meiosis, a type of cell division in the ovaries. This can directly affect the ability of the ovaries to produce healthy eggs for fertilization.
While cannabis might not negatively affect your fertility, smoking is linked to erectile dysfunction in Australian males, a study from 2006 concluded. What’s more, some claim that smoking even reduces your penis size, although I couldn’t find studies proving the claim.
When you are under 20 years old, your brain is most likely still developing. Thus, psychoactive substances might interfere with the healthy development of your brain. According to the Guardian, there is a long-term study which followed a group of over 1,000 people from birth to the age of 38 which has produced the first convincing evidence, say scientists, that cannabis has a different and more damaging effect on young brains than on those of adults.
Moreover, The Telegraph reported that a landmark study by Oxford University has found that smoking cannabis as a teenager can increase the risk of depression in adulthood by almost 40 percent. ‘Researchers warned that use of the drug in adolescence may be responsible for around 60,000 cases of the condition in subsequent decades – around one in 14 of all cases’.
The bottom line
Smoking is very harmful, even without the use of tobacco. There are some hints indicating that genetic dispositions might drastically increase your risk of psychosis. While cannabis is very useful as a treatment against many illnesses, it is still a psychedelic substance which can cause an acute decrease in motivation, self-confidence and short-term memory.
Furthermore, cannabis consumption can be very dangerous at a young age since young and still developing brains can be affected heavier by the psychoactive effects of cannabis consumption than grown adults. What’s more, the constant habit of cannabis smoking can turn into nicotine addiction if you are mixing your herb with tobacco. On top of that, you can get addicted to cannabis by itself. Addicts often hazard the consequences of their addiction, which increases their risk of buying impure weed from the black market. Especially if they are living in a country where cannabis is illegal since they are urged to satisfy their addiction.
After all, excessive cannabis consumption can turn you into an unmotivated, insecure person with an unhealthy diet, who is risking to get lung damage, several cancers and mental illnesses, especially if you are buying cannabis which is very high in THC potency.
It’s safe to say that most of the dangers come from the black market and the fact that THC potency is becoming too popular of a goal for growers. As always in life, the right balance is essential and the dose makes the poison. With that being said, one should cautiously consider buying less potent cannabis flowers which contain a healthier balance of CBD and THC. Also, switching from joints to blunts and eventually quitting smoking altogether and sticking to edibles instead is probably a good idea.