Most people have used marijuana and or know someone who has smoked marijuana. Marijuana is derived from a plant and is part of the cannabinoids which are chemicals that act on cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
The body processes similar chemicals to marijuana and its derivatives that are called endocannabinoids. The receptors for these receptors are spread all over the brain, and they regulate appetite, mood, states, memory, sleep and the sensation of pain.
THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis – it is the substance that mostly causes changes in sensory perception, mood and behavior. Cannabidiol, or CBD, does not have direct psychoactive effects but it does have medicinal effects.
Neurologists can prescribe medical marijuana for serious conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, epilepsy, neuropathy and multiple sclerosis.
It’s important to talk about the benefits and risk of marijuana use with your brain doctor. Nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and fatigue from medical marijuana can occur. More serious side effects can be anxiety, cognitive and memory impairments, incoordination, mood and sleep disturbances, as well as increased risk of heart attack. In fact, cannabis users have a more than 2 times higher risk of developing an ischemia stroke event or heart attack.
Research by Middlemen et al. regarding the risks of marijuana use found a nearly 5-fold increase risk of MI within an hour of consuming cannabis.
Repeat use may result in long-lasting changes in brain function that can impair cognitive and functional endeavors. For women in particular, there is concern not only for the effect of marijuana on the developing nervous system of fetus during pregnancy, but non-pregnant women, especially young women, may have impacted neural network development, as well as an increase in the risk of stroke. In extreme cases, cannabis use might also promote the proliferation of breast cancer cells. All of this makes it important for both you and your doctor to weigh the risks and benefits of long term marijuana use.
Kalla, A, KRisnamoorhty J.Cardiovascular Med 201819:480-484
Lei Huang et al. Subst Use Misuse. 2020; 55 (12): 2076-2077. Marijuana Use for Women: To Prescribe or Not to Prescribe. doi:10.1080/10826084.2020.1782938.Epub 2020 Jul 5 Pubmedi.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed 31 Jan 2010