If you have done your time in a conventional schooling system of any kind – private school, public school, home school, whatever – you’ve probably heard your fair share of lectures and presentations about marijuana. On the school side, you’ve most likely been told that marijuana is very, very bad for you, and if you smoke it just one time, the next thing you know, you’ll be out on the street wearing a tutu on your head and heckling random passerby for your next fix. But, at the same time, you’ve probably heard some other, more positive stuff about it, too, whether it’s from your older cousin who went off to college and came back for Thanksgiving with a significantly more, um, relaxed state of being than one might normally have at your family’s Thanksgiving, or from the movies and TV shows you watch in which everyone smokes weed, like, pretty much all the time.
What is the truth, indeed. Well, as it turns out, the truth here is, like most things, more complicated than you might like it to be. Basically, I can’t tell you definitively whether marijuana is good or bad for you, in particular, but I can tell you about some things that it might be doing to your brain. So, check out these things that actually happen to your brain when you smoke weed here:
It Lowers Your IQAccording to a 25-year-long study that was completed in New Zealand in 2012, people who smoke marijuana consistently as a teenager have lower IQs later on in life. This study observed teenagers, some who began smoking marijuana at age thirteen and other who did not, to the age of thirty-eight. Those who began smoking as a teen saw an IQ drop of an average of eight points as compared to those who didn't smoke as a teen. This IQ drop wasn't present among people who began smoking weed as an adult, however, which suggests that marijuana isn't as harmful to the adult brain. Image source: Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Your Hunger Impulses Get Thrown Out Of WhackYou've probably heard of the munchies, which is defined by Urban Dictionary as "consumption of copious amounts of carbohydrates and essential polyunsaturated fatty acids after inhaling the byproduct of combusting the hemp plant. (Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannibanol)." The reason why this happens, apparently, is because THC interferes with your appetite-suppressing receptors, which makes you more inclined to chow down on, like, anything after smoking weed. Image source: Harold And Kumar Go to White Castle
It Makes You Get Less SleepMany people use marijuana as a sleep aid. But, while marijuana might be helpful to get you to fall asleep, it's actually been shown to negatively impact the REM cycle of sleep, which is vital for feeling energized and alert throughout the day. So, if you've been having trouble sleeping lately, don't turn to weed right away. Image source: Clueless
You Feel EuphoricI mean, there's a reason why people smoke it, right? THC helps release a chemical called dopamine in your brain, which instantly make you feel happy and relaxed. There is a downside to this, however--if dopamine is released too frequently due to marijuana, it can make it harder to feel pleasure relating to other things later on. Image source: Mary + Jane
It Slows Down Your Motor FunctionsThe slow stoner stereotype exists for a reason--weed can actually slow your movements down, whether it's your speech or limb function. This is because the THC in marijuana messes with your brain's orbital frontal cortex, which deals with sensory integration and decision-making. Of course, you'll always find those people who swear that weed gives them more energy, but, if you're going by most scientific studies, the main conclusion you'll find is that weed makes you slower. Image source: Dazed and Confused
Your Immune System Gets WeakenedFeeling a little sick? Maybe don't light up--according to a 2010 study, marijuana use can actually suppress immune function, which makes the body more prone to illness and infection. Image source: Weeds
You Can Feel More AnxiousMarijuana is usually thought of as being relaxing. But sometimes, the opposite is true--while marijuana is generally supposed to induce a feeling of calm, a pretty common side effect is feeling anxious and paranoid. About twenty to thirty percent of marijuana users report feeling anxiety, paranoia, distrust, and panic after smoking. Still, other studies have found that marijuana can reduce anxiety if it's used in moderation--so, you know. Use your best judgment there. Image source: Pineapple Express
Were you surprised by any of these things? Which ones? Let us know in the comments!