Cannabis, Coca, & Poppy:
Nature’s Addictive Plants

Effect on the Body

Effects of Marijuana on the Body

Smoking marijuana can be addictive. Marijuana use impairs a person’s ability to form memories and shift attention from one thing to another. Marijuana smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Smoking marijuana may promote cancer of the respiratory tract and disrupt the immune system. Long term use of marijuana may increase the risk of chronic cough, bronchitis and emphysema.

THC Molecule model

The THC Molecule

The most common psychoactive compound in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. However, the plant also contains more than 60 related compounds known as cannabinoids. Marijuana's psychoactive effects are caused by the THC level.

THC attaches to receptors in the brain (bright yellow and oragne) and impacts learning, memory, coordination

THC attaches to receptors in the brain (bright yellow and orange) and impacts learning, memory, coordination.

Marijuana and the Brain

When marijuana is smoked THC travels throughout the body, including the brain, to produce its many effects. THC attaches to sites called cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells in the brain which affects the way those cells work. Cannabinoid receptors are more abundant in parts of the brain that regulate movement, perception, coordination, learning, memory, and higher cognitive functions such as judgment.

Accident scene in the snow of a head-on colision

Consequences of Marijuana Use

Marijuana use affects alertness, concentration, perception, coordination, and reaction time which are all skills necessary for driving. The person operating this car was high on a combination of alcohol and marijuana. The driver killed himself and critically injured a mother and her baby.