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Short and Long Term Effects

This drug can affect your health, both long and short term, and your driving — in a really bad way.

Effects While Driving

Smoking or eating marijuana slows down your responses to sights and sounds, making you a dangerous driver. Marijuana makes you sleepy, distorts your sense of time and space, and hurts your ability to adapt to light and dark. It also lowers your ability to handle a quick series of tasks while driving. So a marijuana userís biggest driving problem is unexpected events, such as a car approaching from a side street or a child running into the street. This poor reaction time is worse when youíre driving at night because marijuana also causes a severe loss of night vision.

Short-Term Effects

In low doses, marijuana produces:

  • Poor memory and ability to learn
  • Difficulty in thinking and solving problems
  • Poor muscle coordination and judgment
  • Short attention span
  • Dangerous driving behavior
  • Altered sense of time and space
  • Food cravings

In larger doses, marijuana produces:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Poor memory
  • Not knowing where one is
  • Anxiety attacks or feelings of paranoia
  • Depression

Long-Term Effects

  • Cancer. Marijuana contains the same cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke.
  • Breathing problems. It creates the same kinds of breathing problems that cigarettes do: coughing and wheezing.
  • Immune system. The THC in marijuana can damage the cells and tissues in the body that help protect against disease.
  • Memory, learning, and energy are impaired.
  • Fertility. Reproductive hormones are decreased. In men, there is less testosterone, causing decreased sperm counts and possible erectile dysfunction. In women, there may be irregular periods. Both problems would result in a decreased ability to conceive but not lead to complete infertility.
  • Birth defects in unborn children.