What is Marijuana (Cannabis)?

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Marijuana consists of a greenish-gray mixture of dried flowers of Cannabis Sativa. 

Other names for marijuana include:

  • Weed
  • Herb
  • Pot
  • Grass
  • Ganja
  • Mary Jane

The primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC. THC is responsible for the mind-altering, intoxicating effects that many people seek from taking marijuana. The chemical is found in resin created by the leaves and buds, primarily from the female cannabis plant.

stoned eyes

The cannabis plant also has more than 500 other chemicals. These chemicals include more than 100 compounds that are chemically related to THC, called cannabinoids.

Some people smoke marijuana using the following techniques:

  • Hand-rolled cigarettes called joints
  • Pipes
  • Water pipes that are sometimes called bongs
  • Blunts that consist of marijuana rolled in cigar wraps

Marijuana can also be used to brew tea. When it is sold or ingested for medicinal purposes, it is often mixed into foods like brownies, cookies, or candies. These are called edibles.

Vaporizers are also commonly used to consume marijuana. More potent forms of the drug include sinsemilla, which is extracted from specially tended female plants. There are also concentrated resins containing high quantities of marijuana’s active ingredients, including honey-like hash oil, hard amberlike shatter, and waxy budder.

These resins are growing in popularity among people who use them recreationally and medically.

Signs You are High on Marijuana

Someone high on marijuana may experience the following side effects and symptoms:

  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Laughing for no reason
  • Forgetting things that recently occurred
  • Feeling like time is slowing down
  • Increased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness

When you are high on marijuana, it may feel like time is slowing down. Minutes may feel like hours.

Everyday sights, sounds, and tastes may seem interesting, funny, or unusual. 

Marijuana can also make users feel very hungry. You may have the urge to consume lots of junk food. Some people call this ‘the munchies.’

People who take marijuana may also smell like the drug afterward. Marijuana smells sweeter than cigarettes. Some people use perfume, cologne, or incense to disguise the smell after use.

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Why Does Weed Make Your Eyes Red (Stoned Eyes)?

Red eyes are usually a classic, telltale sign that someone has taken marijuana. For some people, it is a guaranteed occurrence. For those who are less sensitive, red eyes may come and go depending on the quality or quantity of the marijuana consumed.

The key cause for red eyes after smoking marijuana is the primary reason that the plant is known as a treatment for glaucoma. THC reduces blood pressure, which leads blood vessels and capillaries to dilate.

The ocular capillaries dilate. This boosts the flow of blood to the eyes and reduces intraocular pressure. Increased blood flow produces redness, while the reduction in pressure is the same effect that treats glaucoma patients.

This reaction explains the differences in the intensity of red eyes. Someone may smoke a low THC strain one day and experience no red eyes. However, the next day their eyes may be significantly redder after ingesting a high THC strain. 

This explains why red eyes can still occur even when there is a lack of smoke. Someone may eat edibles and still experience red eyes. That is because it is not the smoke that reddens the eyes but the cannabinoids.

It is essential to consider that it is also possible for some people to have an allergy or irritation to cannabis or smoke in general. In some cases, this can lead to an increased redness of the eyes.

For these sensitive people, the experience is likely to be a shared reaction to smoke, whether from marijuana, tobacco, or even incense.

How to Get Rid of Red Eyes From Cannabis

The cause for red eyes from marijuana is harmless. Red eyes resulting from cannabis use come with no adverse outcomes other than the stigma linked with them. However, you can take a few steps to minimize or reduce red eyes during or after smoking.

First, you can choose strains with low or no THC present. Strains high in CBD and CBN may be a better alternative for those looking to reduce red eyes when smoking.

It is also a good idea to have eye drops on hand when smoking cannabis. There are products available to reduce eye redness.

Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is also crucial. Increasing your fluid intake may help with any dryness you experience.

Or, you can let red eyes run their course and plan smoking sessions for moments spent at home.

Other Side Effects of Marijuana Use

Aside from red eyes, there are some other side effects of marijuana use. The drug delivers a wide range of effects, both physical and mental.

Other side effects include:

  • Altered senses, such as seeing brighter colors
  • Altered sense of time
  • Adjustments in mood
  • Impaired body movement
  • Difficulty thinking and problem-solving
  • Impaired memory
  • Breathing issues
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Problems with child development during and after pregnancy
  • Hallucinations (when taken in high doses)
  • Delusions (when taken in high doses)
  • Psychosis (risk is highest with consistent use of high potency cannabis)

Marijuana smoke aggravates the lungs. People who smoke cannabis often can have the same breathing issues as those who smoke tobacco. 

These issues include:

  • Daily cough and phlegm
  • More frequent lung illness
  • Higher risk of lung infections

Marijuana also increases the heart rate for up to three hours following smoking. This effect may increase the possibility of a heart attack. Older people and those with heart issues may be at higher risk.

Regular, long-term cannabis use can result in some people developing cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. This causes some people to experience cycles of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. Sometimes this requires emergency medical help.

How Does Marijuana Affect The Brain?

When someone smokes marijuana, THC quickly moves from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood transports the chemical to the brain and other organs in the body. The body absorbs THC more slowly when someone eats or drinks it.

After eating or drinking marijuana, someone typically experiences the effects from between 30 minutes to one hour. THC works on specific brain cell receptors that usually react to natural THC-like chemicals. These chemicals play a role in normal brain development and function.

Marijuana affects brain development. When people start using the drug as teenagers, it may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions. It can affect how the brain develops connections between the areas required for these functions.

Researchers are still learning how long cannabis’s effects last and whether some brain changes may be permanent.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Marijuana use can result in the development of a substance use disorder. This is a medical illness in which a person cannot stop using drugs even though it is causing them problems in their life.

Severe substance use orders are known as addictions.

Thirty percent of people who use marijuana may develop some type of marijuana use disorder. People who start using cannabis before 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to have a marijuana use disorder.

Symptoms of Marijuana Use & Misuse

Compared to people who do not use marijuana, those who frequently take large quantities report the following symptoms of misuse:

  • Lower life satisfaction
  • Poorer mental health
  • Poorer physical health
  • Relationship issues
  • Less academic and career success
  • Grouchiness
  • Tiredness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings

Adolescents who use marijuana have a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. Marijuana misuse also links with more job absences, accidents, and injuries.

Treatment Options for Marijuana Misuse

There are not any medications currently available to treat marijuana use disorder. However, behavioral support is effective. Examples of behavioral support include therapy and motivational incentives, which involve providing rewards to patients who remain drug-free.

Continuing research may result in new medications being developed to help ease withdrawal symptoms, block the effects of cannabis, and prevent relapse.

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Resources +

NIDA. "What is marijuana? ." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 13 Apr. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-marijuana 

Signs of Marijuana Use, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/signs-marijuana-use 

NIDA. "Marijuana DrugFacts." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 24 Dec. 2019, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana 

NIDA. "What are marijuana’s effects on other aspects of physical health?." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 27 May. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-are-marijuanas-effects-on-other-aspects-of-physical-health 

Yazulla, Stephen. “Endocannabinoids in the retina: from marijuana to neuroprotection.” Progress in retinal and eye research vol. 27,5 (2008): 501-26, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2584875/ 

Marijuana intoxication, MedlinePlus, February 2021, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000952.htm

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