What Happens To Your Body (And Brain) When You Smoke Marijuana

weedswhat happens when you smoke pot

Today, on my Alma Mater’s campus, which is in the Northwestern-most city in the continental United States, there are probably bidding each other “Happy Holidays,” because the people who go to that school are really big fans of marijuana. And while the roots of “420” as a day to burn one down are debated among weed smokers and “scholars” (read: weed smokers who also read and write papers), the fact is that, on this high holy day, people smoke a lot of pot. But what actually happens to your body when you smoke marijuana?

Long before Dark Side Of The Rainbow, people have been toking for medicinal and psychological benefits, including pain relief and increased appetite. But newer studies about the drug’s short and long-term effects have been confounding–demonstrating various correlations with and impacts upon ailments such as lung cancer, major depression, Alzheimer’s, and anxiety.

And while science still hasn’t been able to put its finger on exactly what marijuana (and its active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC) can and can’t do in relation to diseases and mental illness (at least, not conclusively–for example, we haven’t quite figured out why THC seems to slow the production of saliva, leading to dry mouth), we have been able to establish basically what the bodily functions and brain reactions are in response to ingesting cannabis. Here’s how it goes:

[Just a heads up--this gallery contains things like images of Snoop Dogg smoking out of a giant glass pipe, so it may not be SFW]

Image: Showtime via

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    • Taryn

      Do you mean Dark Side of the Moon?

    • Brandt Hardin

      Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws. I drew up a very cool poster featuring Uncle Willie Nelson and The Teapot Party for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html Drop in and let me know what you think!

    • Maggie

      Thank you for not being judgmental in this article! And highlighting the more positive effects of marijuana. Although I don’t know why you put “scholars” in quotation marks; one of my university professors had two doctorates and wrote award-winning scholarly articles and was very open about his avid pot smoking. He seemed to think it stimulated your creative brain and caused you to think outside the box where you normally wouldn’t, which it kinda does!

    • Emily

      How spirited!

    • Kayla

      Did you go to WWU?!

    • Shaina

      Dark Side of the Rainbow is watching The Wizard of Oz with Dark Side of the Moon as the audio.