As Georgia criminal defense lawyers, we handle many cases involving marijuana. Marijuana is, as of now, illegal in Georgia. We wanted to write a blog post about what marijuana does in your body; we wanted to discuss its physiological effects. With all the talk about marijuana echoing on so many different fronts—from the political to the social to the medical--we thought a discussion about this passionately debated plant was timely.
The Marijuana Plant
The marijuana plant is actually a complex plant that contains more than 100 different compounds. The term marijuana does not refer to a particular part of the plant, rather, it encompasses the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds.
How You Get High
Marijuana gets you high primarily due to its active compounds, particularly delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When you consume marijuana, whether by smoking, vaping, or ingesting it, for instance, THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system in your body. Here's how it works:
- Endocannabinoid System (ECS): The human body has an endocannabinoid system, which is a complex cell-signaling system. It plays a role in regulating various physiological processes, including mood, pain sensation, appetite, and more. The ECS consists of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), endocannabinoids (naturally occurring compounds produced by your body), and enzymes.
- THC's Interaction with CB1 Receptors: THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, closely resembles a natural endocannabinoid called anandamide. When you consume marijuana, THC binds to and activates the CB1 receptors in your brain, particularly in regions associated with memory, pleasure, coordination, and thinking.
- Release of Neurotransmitters: When THC activates the CB1 receptors, it triggers the release of various neurotransmitters, including dopamine. This results in altered brain activity, producing the sensations associated with being "high," such as euphoria, relaxation, altered perception of time, and changes in sensory perception.
- Alteration of Neural Communication: THC disrupts normal neural communication by interfering with the release of certain neurotransmitters and their uptake. This disruption can lead to various cognitive and perceptual changes.
- Short-Term and Long-Term Effects: The short-term effects of marijuana use can include relaxation, heightened sensory perception, altered mood, and impaired memory and coordination. Long-term use can lead to tolerance and potential negative effects on memory, mental health, and other aspects of cognitive function.
There Are Many Different Strains of Marijuana – People React in Different Ways
It's important to note that not all strains of marijuana have the same THC content or produce the same effects. The potency of THC can vary widely between different strains and products, so the specific effects of marijuana can vary widely depending on what you consume.
Additionally, marijuana contains other cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD), which can modify the effects of THC. CBD is not psychoactive and may have therapeutic properties.
The psychoactive effects of marijuana are a result of the complex interplay between THC, the endocannabinoid system, and the brain's neural networks.
Because marijuana effects people in different ways, not all reactions are expected or positive. Sometimes people do not react well to weed. Some users have reported memory and mood changes such as panic and paranoid reactions. Common physiological effects include rapid changes in heart rate and diastolic blood pressure, dry mouth and throat, conjunctival suffusion vasodilatation, increased appetite (“the munchies”) and decreased respiratory rate.
Remember: Marijuana is Illegal in Georgia
While many people use marijuana recreationally to experience its euphoric effects, and many use it to deal with anxiety and stress, it's important to be aware of its potential risks and to use it responsibly (if you are making the decision to use it at all), especially considering individual differences in tolerance and sensitivity. And, of course, you must beware that marijuana use and possession is illegal in the state of Georgia.
When you need a criminal defense attorney who understands the many legal issues associated with marijuana, call us immediately for a free consultation!