Harmful Effects of Marijuana Use

Harmful Effects of Marijuana Use

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States. While it’s true that legalization activists and many marijuana users believe that smoking pot has no negative effects, the scientific research proves otherwise. In reality, a number of harmful effects of marijuana use can cause a wide range of short- and long-term health problems and the need for drug rehab in Phoenix. 

Some people may continue to use marijuana despite what the research says, but we feel that everyone should be educated so that they can make informed decisions for their health, both today and in the future. This post will cover the harmful effects of cannabis use and why we feel it’s best to refrain from it. 

Harmful Effects of Marijuana — What Are They? 

Roughly 22.2 million people use marijuana each month. It’s the most commonly used drug after alcohol. But just like alcohol, cannabis is not harmless. There is even some evidence that smoking pot on occasion can have negative effects on the health. Let’s take a look. 

Brain Health 

Marijuana directly affects the brain, specifically the parts responsible for memory, learning, attention, coordination, decision making, emotions and reaction times. Marijuana also affects brain development, which is why it’s most harmful to developing brains in children and teens. 

When cannabis use starts early, it can interfere with how the brain builds connections between the areas responsible for essential functions like memory and attention. Young people who use marijuana tend to have a harder time in school compared to their peers. 

Many of these effects may be long-lasting. It all depends on the strength of the marijuana, how often it’s used and whether other substances are abused as well. Thankfully, the brain is adaptable and can heal. More outpatient rehabs in Phoenix are focusing on improving brain health as part of their treatment services. 

Heart Health 

Using marijuana makes the heart beat faster and may lead to an increased risk for stroke or heart attack. Most of the research done so far focuses on smoking marijuana. Smoked marijuana sends THC and other toxins into the body and these can be harmful to the cardiovascular and lung systems. More research is needed to see if edibles can create the same effects. 

Lung Health 

There are definite harmful effects of marijuana associated with smoking it. No matter what form it’s smoked in, cannabis can harm lung tissues and damage the small blood vessels. By taking in carcinogens, marijuana users are at risk for the same types of problems as nicotine users, including bronchitis, cough, shortness of breath, phlegm production and wheezing. 


Research shows that 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted, and this number rises to 1 in 6 for those who begin using before age 18. Signs of addiction include giving up important activities to get high, being unsuccessful in trying to quit and continuing to use marijuana even when it causes problems. 

While anyone can become addicted to pot, the following types of people are at a higher risk: 

  • Difficult home life 
  • Emotional problems
  • Mental health conditions 
  • Poor social connections 
  • Family history of addiction 
  • Trouble in school 

The above individuals are more likely to use marijuana to cope. When the drug sets in, they feel better, prompting them to do it again and again. 

Mental Health 

While many people smoke pot to “manage” the symptoms of their mental health condition, marijuana is not the solution. In fact, this drug has been linked to higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicide among teens. Marijuana users are also more likely than non-users to develop mental health disorders like schizophrenia. 

In the short term, smoking marijuana can cause disorientation, unpleasant thoughts and paranoia. All of these feelings do nothing to help cope with the symptoms of mental illness and can make these disorders worse. Even those who don’t have underlying mental health problems can start to see harmful effects of marijuana develop after using.


Because marijuana smoke contains a number of cancer-causing agents and three times the amount of tar found in tobacco smoke, it’s only natural that smoking pot is harmful to our health. However, researchers have still been unable to “prove” a definite link between smoking pot and lung cancer. Nevertheless, marijuana delivers harmful substances into the body and may increase the risk for certain cancers. 

Is There a Way to Use Marijuana Safely? 

Even though marijuana is legal in many states does not mean it’s safe. Cannabis contains THC which has negative effects on the brain and body. It can also become habit-forming, taking over parts of your life so that you’re not able to perform as well in work, school or sports.

Because all types of marijuana contain THC, even edibles are a concern. Edibles take longer to digest and produce a later effect, but this effect can last longer and be stronger than anticipated. Taking too many edibles can also lead to anxiety, paranoia and delusions. 

Bottom line: We do not recommend using marijuana for recreational purposes or to self-treat a mental health problem. There are far more safer and effective ways to “take the edge off” without putting your physical and mental health in jeopardy. 

I’m Worried I’m Addicted to Pot. What Should I Do? 

If you’re concerned that you’re addicted to marijuana, know that help is available. Some people assume that substance use treatment is only available for “harder” addictions to heroin or cocaine but this isn’t the case. Treatment comes in many forms and can help people stop the cycle of marijuana use. 

Continuum Recovery Center provides outpatient addiction treatment in Arizona. We treat all types of addictions, including those to legal drugs like marijuana and alcohol. Because of our convenient and affordable programs, clients are able to seek support as they build a life of sobriety. 

While many of our clients do come from local communities near Phoenix, we are open to people all over the country. Some clients choose our location because it’s beautiful and sunny. They also appreciate a clean slate where they can remove themselves from toxic people, places and things. 

To learn more about our treatment options for marijuana addiction, contact Continuum Recovery Center today.