Horrible Side Effects of Marijuana That People Never Talk About

With the legalization of marijuana on the rise, it’s important to note the drug’s side effects. While weed can have medicinal benefits, if nationwide legalization occurs, the public should be informed of any negative aspects. Read on to know more about the scary potential side effects.


Man smoking marijuana cigarette

Marijuana can become addictive. | iStock.com/Pe3check

Many people praise marijuana for its non-addictive qualities. However, physicians would strongly disagree with such a statement. “There’s no question at all that marijuana is addictive,” Dr. Sharon Levy, the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, told Boston Globe. Right now, only one in 11 young adults who smoke weed will develop an addiction. However, with more potent products beginning to enter the market, the addiction rates will increase. With healthcare that doesn’t consider marijuana a serious addiction, people may have nowhere to turn.

Memory loss

Cannabis plants grow in the greenhouse

Your mind may not be so sharp after a few smoke sessions. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In 2016, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study confirming that those who practiced long-term, daily marijuana use had poorer verbal memory in their middle age compared to those who didn’t smoke. The study considered “long term” to mean five years or more. The researchers examined 3,400 people’s habits over a 25-year period. Everyone in the group took a cognitive skills test at the end of the study period, which determined the results. Legalization of marijuana across the United States may result in more people smoking the drug daily for long periods of time.

Lung irritation

smoking a joint

Marijuana smoke can irritate your lungs. | PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

Although there is no conclusive evidence that marijuana causes lung cancer, it does create a series of respiratory problems in frequent users, such as a prolonged cough, airway inflammation, and wheezing. According to the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, marijuana smoke contains harmful chemicals that are in similar range to those in tobacco smoke. Since marijuana requires a deeper inhalation than cigarettes, it leaves about five times the carbon monoxide concentration and three times the tar in the respiratory tract compared to cigarettes.


Man pouring marijuana from a canister into his hand at a dispensary.

Marijuana can increase your chances of developing schizophrenia. | David McNew/Getty Images

Various studies on the effects of marijuana have been done through the years, but NBC recently reported that one potential risk of the drug is a serious one — mental illness. Marijuana can increase one’s risk of developing schizophrenia. This illness causes delusions, hallucinations, and unclear thinking, and greatly affects one’s ability to function properly. The drug can also increase depression and social anxiety, according to the same study. Those who use marijuana heavily are also more likely to be suicidal.

Low testosterone levels

Man smoking marijuana at a festival

Marijuana can lower your testosterone levels. | Mark Piscotty/Getty Images

Some studies have shown that chronic cannabis use can result in lower testosterone levels, and even a lower sperm count. Doctors have agreed that it’s very plausible that chronic marijuana use can lower testosterone. However, researchers cannot draw a completely factual conclusion until they complete several more studies. Low levels can also result in something called gynecomastia, which is caused by a hormone imbalance between testosterone and estrogen levels in men.

Slowed reaction time

A closeup view of marijuana

Driving while high is not a good idea. | Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Driving while high may seem like an obvious no, but impaired reaction time can last much longer than the high. “Visual perception and motor speed may be impaired not only while you smoke, but for up to 28 days afterward,” Marina Goldman, an addiction expert from University of Pennsylvania’s Addiction Treatment Center, told Philadelphia magazine. Slowed reaction time means that an oncoming vehicle can pose greater danger; there could be a delay in perception time and appropriate reaction time.

Exposure to dangerous potencies

View of marijuana cupcakes for sale

Marijuana in edible form is very potent. | Alejandro Pagni/Getty Images

Today, marijuana products are much stronger than they used to be. Edible products tend to have a potency that is up to 10 times higher than that of a traditional joint, according to Steven Wright, a pain and addiction medicine specialist in Denver. Wright told USA Today that since edibles’ effects take up to an hour to set in — unlike joints, which reach the brain in just seconds — people end up consuming far more than they intended, which can cause more harm than the drug in its traditional form.

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