Chill drug can have chilling effects


Photo credit: Franky Renteria

From tripping to munchies, recreational and frequent marijuana users alike may experience the same reactions. Here are five common side-effects and the science behind them.

1. Brain drain. Marijuana directly affects the brain and can alter shortterm memory and problem solving skills. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors widely distributed throughout the nervous system and other parts of the body. In the brain, these receptors are found in high concentrations in areas that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception and movement coordination.

2. Tripping out. Paranoia and anxiety are another result of using marijuana. Extreme irrational fears can plague some users. Increased susceptibility to long-term mental illness is another effect some users experience.

3. Addiction. Marijuana may have psychologically addictive aspects, according to Patrick Johnson, a psychology professor at Chico State with a focus in behavioral psychology.

“Psychologically any drug can have psychological dependence associated with it,” Johnson said. “Now, that is not to say the addiction as it manifests behaviorally is at the same level or to the same degree as opioid or cocaine addiction.”

4. Munchies. Increased pleasure from eating food and an insatiable hunger can result from consuming marijuana.

Mitchell Kret, a second-year at Chico State, habitually uses marijuana almost daily, and his munchies have changed over time.

“I used to get the munchies really bad. Now its like whatever. It doesn’t affect my appetite,” he said. But Kret still occasionally has run-ins with bags of potato chips.

5. Heart and lung health. Heart health may be affected by THC can raise blood pressure which is problematic if there is an existing heart condition.

Cigarette and marijuana smoke can have similar effects on the lungs. Vaping may have reduced effects on the lungs, but it is not clear yet if there is no risk.

Kret, who has been using marijuana for over four years, sees the negative effects marijuana has on his mind and body.

“If I am sick and I smoke weed it feels like it takes a lot longer to get better,” Kret said. “Sometimes it’s like a cough, and if I smoke early in the day its hard to do anything productive later in the day.”

There are limitations of studying marijuana’s effects Johnson said. “ There is still ambiguity and more that has yet to be discovered about marijuana’s effects.”

Nicholas Feeley can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.