The 5 effects of cannabis on the nervous system

The use of cannabis involves several changes in the body, many of which are well known in the popular ideology of what a user of this substance looks like.

After smoking cannabis, your heart rate quickens, your blood vessels dilate, your eyes turn red, and your blood pressure rises, among other organic symptoms.

However, it’s not just the physical changes that produce marijuana. Those who use it also suffer from mental disorders, a product that this drug impairs brain chemistry and function. In this article, we will see, mainly, what are the effects of marijuana on the nervous system.

    The Effects of Marijuana on the Nervous System (Classified)

    Also known as cannabis, marijuana is a grayish green mixture of dried flowers and hemp leaves. Cannabis is believed to have originated in Central and South Asia, and the Assyrian people are known to use it in religious ceremonies, calling it “qunubu”. Since time immemorial, this drug has been present in all kinds of religious rituals around the world..

    There are many names by which this drug is known, with more than two hundred terms to designate them: maria, herba, mota… The word “marijuana” is the term that Mexicans called Cannabis indica. It is a species that belongs to the Moraceae family and has the appearance of a nettle. It is around six feet tall and can be grown anywhere in warm weather.

    The psychoactive properties have led to the use of the cannabis plant in many settings, especially for recreational purposes., medicinal and, more modernly, industrial (as a raw material).


      The main psychoactive compound in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC).. It is not the only component of cannabis, as it is one of over 80 different cannabinoids that can be found in the marijuana plant. However, this is the most important thing when it comes to the effects of cannabis on the nervous system.

      There are several ways to take the substance, each with different implications but with very similar effects. Whether smoked, steamed, or ingested, the cannabinoids found in the plant interact with various receptors in the brain and body, which are part of the endocannabinoid system. That is why consuming the plant generates different symptoms and signs for those who consume it.

      The membranes of some cells of the nervous system contain protein receptors that retain THC. By interacting with these receptors, THC produces a wide range of effects on the body, including feelings of euphoria, joy, relaxation, cognitive slowing …

      Not all cannabis plants produce psychoactive effects. There are strains of cannabis used to produce industrial hemp, which contain less than 1% THC and are not suitable for recreational consumption.

        Main effects of cannabis

        As mentioned, cannabis has psychoactive effects, which is the main reason that those who consume this plant consume it. This drug has long been used for its physical and more particularly psychological effects. The effects of cannabis on the brain involve changes in perception, positive moods, and short-term euphoria. Its consumption also increases the appetite and induces the feeling of being placed.

        However, it also has side effects which can be quite unpleasant. These include short-term memory loss, motor slowing and incoordination, and anxiety, as well as lesser psychological symptoms such as red eyes and dry mouth. In the long run, marijuana damages the brain, decreases concentration and other cognitive abilities in general, and is addictive.

        1. Motivational syndrome

        One of the most common effects but at the same time less known to consumers is motivation syndrome. Although marijuana has been repeatedly viewed as a harmless drug, the mere fact that it is a drug is already something that affects the body. Its negative effects are numerous and among them is precisely this motivational syndrome, the symptoms of which coincide with the idea that one would have in the head of what a cannabis addict is.

        This syndrome has the following four phases. The first thing the consumer feels is euphoria, a feeling of great happiness and laxity. He feels comfortable in conversation, speaks and speaks. Fantasy is also stimulated.

        After euphoria come hallucinations. What were once mere fantasies now takes on disturbing content. The notions of time and space are lost. The consumer experiences a lot of emotions at this point and the mood swings can become very sharp and intense. If the cannabis has been taken with alcohol, this phase becomes more intense.

        In the phase of happiness, the consumer feels good, with a pleasant feeling of tranquility and peace. There is no fear, but neither is the desire. He falls asleep slowly.

        Finally, the consumer falls asleep or is completely numb unable to work hours for a few hours.

          2. Subjective effects of marijuana on the brain

          Depending on how it was consumed, cannabis has different effects. When inhaled, the subjective effects begin shortly after one minute, while in smoke, the maximum effects reach thirty minutes. The duration of these effects is four hours for inhalation and eight hours for oral ingestion.

          The effect that consumers notice the most is the altered sense of time. It gives them the impression that the minutes and hours are longer than they actually are. Cannabis has an effect on the auditory centers of the nervous system, manifested by an increase in hearing sensitivity and a keener appreciation of music by its users. It is also common for consumers to notice a subjective increase in their senses of touch, taste and smell.

          In general, the effects of marijuana on the nervous system they depend on the form of ingestion and the amount taken of the main active ingredient. THC does not dissolve in water, so it can only be consumed by ingestion and inhalation.

            3. Acute cannabis poisoning

            Acute cannabis poisoning has several psychological effects. Symptoms include paranoid thoughts, delusions, hallucinations, delusions, depersonalization, confusion, agitation, and arousal. There may be delirium and disorder with agitation and violent excitement. All of these effects will eventually occur after a few hours, as long as the cannabis use does not go away and is not combined with other substances.

            Regardless of the folklore and tradition of cannabis, it is still a drug and as such induces effects on the nervous system, some of which are very serious. Consumers of this substance can exhibit very dangerous behavior., both for themselves and for others, depending on different factors such as the amount of THC ingested and personality aspects. Acute poisoning can lead to mood swings and negative emotions such as anxiety, fear and panic.

            The effects of cannabis on the central nervous system are so severe consumption of this substance has been linked to an increase in mental illnesses in young people. Using cannabis increases the risk of a psychotic outbreak. An increase in panic attacks and anxiety attacks is associated with regular substance use.

            4. Effects on brain development

            The study of the effects of marijuana on the structure of the brain with neuroimaging techniques shows varied results. Some suggest that regular use of this drug during adolescence is associated with impaired connectivity and a smaller volume in specific regions of the brain involved in executive functions, such as memory, learning and impulse control.

            Scientific research suggests that cannabis use can lead to functional impairment of cognitive abilities. However, this deterioration will vary depending on the age at which the user started taking cannabis, the amount of substance ingested and the duration of consumption.

            The endocannabinoid system is believed to play a major role in the formation of synapses during the early stages of brain development., which would explain why the consumption of cannabis, with substances that affect this system, would alter cognitive aspects in adolescence.

            A study in New Zealand found that frequent cannabis use that started in adolescence was associated with a 6 to 8 IQ loss in mid-adulthood. In the same study, people who used cannabis routinely during adolescence and stopped using the drug in adulthood did not regain lost IC points.

            In the study, people who had just started using marijuana in adulthood, both intensely and not, did not lose any CI points. This suggests that marijuana has a greater long-term impact on teens, whose brain is still forming making new connections and maturing in other ways, which in adults whose brains are already nearly mature. This is not to say that there is a causal link between cannabis use and loss of HF, but it would have implications for the long-term cognitive zone of more premature users.

              5. Why does cannabis affect memory?

              Marijuana impairs memory because THC affects the hippocampus. This structure is the area of ​​the brain responsible for forming memories and processing information. Most of the data to support this claim has been made with animals, especially rats.

              Studies on rats exposed to THC prenatally have shown that soon after birth or during adolescence they have shown noticeable difficulties in specific learning and memory tasks. Cognitive impairment in adult rats exposed to this component during adolescence has been associated with structural and functional changes in the hippocampus, the area of ​​the brain involved in memory.

              Studies in rats also show that exposure to THC during adolescence involves alterations in the reward system, which increases the likelihood that an animal will try to obtain other substances and fall into other addictions. This would be the physiological explanation why many adolescents who use marijuana as their first drug or starting drug end up resorting to other substances such as cocaine, tobacco or alcohol.

              As humans age, our hippocampus loses neurons and this affects the ability to learn new information.. Cannabis use involves exposure to THC, which, if prolonged, can accelerate the loss of neurons in the hippocampus, leading to premature memory loss.

              In a study with rats exposed to THC daily for 8 months (30% of their lifespan) they showed nerve cell loss at 11 or 12 months equivalent to that of rats twice their size. this substance.

              Bibliographical references

              • Hemp, “official magazine of cannabis cultivation”, several issues, published in Barcelona, ​​Spain.
              • Verrico CD, Gu H, Peterson ML, Sampson AR, Lewis DA. Repeated exposure to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in adolescent monkeys: persistent selective effects on spatial working memory. Am J Psychiatry. 2014, 171 (4): 416-425. doi: 10.1176 / appi.ajp.2013.13030335
              • Meier MH, Caspi A, Ambler A, et al. Persistent cannabis users exhibit neuropsychological decline from childhood to middle age. Proc Natl Acad Sci US A. 2012, 109 (40): E2657-E2664. doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1206820109
              • Jackson NJ, Isen JD, Khoddam R, et al. Impact of adolescent marijuana use on intelligence: results of two twin longitudinal studies. Proc Natl Acad Sci US A. 2016, 113 (5): E500-E508. doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1516648113
              • Campolongo P, Trezza V, Cassano T, et al. Perinatal exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol causes long-lasting cognitive deficits associated with altered cortical gene expression and neurotransmission in rats. Addict Biol. 2007; 12 (3-4): 485-495. doi: 10.1111 / j.1369-1600.2007.00074.x
              • Trezza V, Campolongo P, Cassano T, et al. Effects of perinatal exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on emotional responsiveness in offspring: a longitudinal behavioral study in Wistar rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2008, 198 (4): 529-537. doi: 10.1007 / s00213-008-1162-3
              • Pérez, F. (2018). Do you know the effects of cannabis on the brain? The spirit is wonderful. Retrieved from:

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