While medical marijuana use is beneficial in helping cancer patients and people with multiple sclerosis, it can also cause issues to the user’s physical and mental health. When people smoke or vape marijuana, they can cause damage to the airways in their lungs. People who have a preexisting heart condition can experience an increased heart rate and their heart will have to work harder- increasing the risk of them having a heart attack.
While some people may use marijuana to help with mental health issues like anxiety, research shows that the effects of THC can cause things like depression and social anxiety to be more prevalent. People who already have a generalized anxiety disorder may feel that their anxiety worsens when they’re not using pot and can become dependent on it. Marijuana can also cause additional behavioral health issues such as memory and cognitive problems and high usage can lead to paranoia and schizophrenia, especially if the user has a family history of psychosis.
Tommy Streeter, a community outreach coordinator for Allendale Treatment and Fort Wayne Recovery says that he used marijuana to help with social anxiety but found that it caused additional problems. “If you’ve got depression or an anxiety disorder and you’re taking medication for it but you’re also smoking weed, it’s not going to work,” says Streeter. “It interferes with the chemicals in your brain and will oftentimes make those issues worse.”
Young people who use marijuana regularly could experience brain development issues since the human brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25. A brain imaging study found irregularities in the prefrontal cortex of teenagers who said they were frequent pot users. While research is still limited, it suggests that early users of marijuana could experience lasting effects into adulthood.