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One Major Side Effect of Smoking Marijuana, Study Shows 

You might not want to get behind the wheel.

A recent study has found there may be a major side effect to smoking marijuana: Impairment while driving. Researchers from AAA found that people who drank alcohol and then smoked marijuana were more likely to commit violations such as running red lights, speeding and distracted driving. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


The Cannabis and Alcohol Combo Can Lead To People "Driving Distracted," Study Finds

Cannabis beer on a picnic table wood surface.

"If you choose to use cannabis and use alcohol, generally you tend to be the type of person who takes more risk while driving, like running red lights, speeding, and driving distracted," said Skylar McKinley, Regional Director of Public Affairs for AAA Colorado. That's what KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, Colorado, reported. 

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in 2019 there were 49 traffic fatalities in Colorado involving someone with THC above the legal limit. The following year, the Colorado Springs Police Department arrested 1,652 people for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"We think these stories are powerful," said Sam Cole, Regional Communications Manager of the Colorado Department of Transportation. "When cannabis users hear them, we think it may change some perceptions and beliefs, and get them to understand the dangers of impaired driving better."


The Use of Cannabis Has Been Linked to an Increased Risk of Vehicle Crashes

Painful neck ache after fender bender car crash

According to the National Institutes Of Health, the use of cannabis has been linked to an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. "Some people who use cannabis develop cannabis use disorder, which has symptoms such as craving, withdrawal, lack of control, and negative effects on personal and professional responsibilities," the NIH says.

This has not stopped several states and localities from legalizing marijuana in the past few months, with the most visible being New York. The New York Times reported that New Yorkers are permitted to smoke cannabis in public wherever smoking tobacco is allowed, excepting schools, workplaces or inside a car. In New York City, it is banned in parks, beaches, boardwalks, pedestrian plazas and playgrounds, where tobacco smoking is banned. Read more to discover what happens if you smoke marijuana every day. (Note: do not use marijuana without consulting a medical professional first.)


First, The Positive Effects


Marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of health issues. Read on to discover how it can be used best.


It Can Relieve Your Pain

back view of man sitting on bed and suffering from back pain

Marijuana is often used as a source of pain relief, as you can get a medical card for it to treat issues like cancer or inflammation. "German researchers found that marijuana-based remedies increased the number of people who reported a 50% or more reduction in pain relief," says WebMD. "In a small study of 47 patients with Parkinson's disease, Israeli researchers found a 27% improvement in pain with marijuana use."


It Can Lead to Less Anxiety

Portrait of stressed mature woman with hand on head looking down. Worried woman wearing spectacles. Tired lady having headache sitting indoors.

"I found Marijuana at the age of 19," says Peter Pryor, M.D. "It has always been a bit of a godsend for me because it helps me daily with anxiety and many other benefits." (Read on to discover how marijuana can also increase anxiety for some.)


It Can Regulate Blood Sugar

Doctor checking blood sugar level with glucometer. Treatment of diabetes concept.

Insulin is which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Insulin resistance is linked to a greater risk of diabetes. However, according to Mary Clifton, M.D, marijuana offers "less insulin resistance."  


It Can Lower Your Cholesterol

high cholesterol

Millions of Americans live with high cholesterol, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. However, according to Dr. Clifton, "people who use cannabinoid formulations regularly are found to have lower overall cholesterol."

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It Can Lower Your BMI (If You Don't Snack)

weight loss

Despite the common feeling of having "the munchies" after using marijuana, cannabis users tend to weigh less and are less likely to be obese. They have a "lower BMI," says Dr. Clifton. According to the CDC, BMI (aka body mass index) "is a screening tool used to identify individuals who are underweight, overweight, or obese."


Now, The Negative Effects

"Your mileage may vary," as the expression goes, but using marijuana every day may have negative effects, also. Here are a few noted by the doctors.

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You Can Develop Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD)

We consulted doctor and medical resources to discover what happens if you smoke marijuana every day. (Note: do not use marijuana without consulting a medical professional first.)

"This means that these users develop such an ironclad tolerance to marijuana that they have to consume increasing amounts to feel the same euphoric sensations," says Dr. Sal Raichbach. "This leads to decreased reactivity to dopamine, which suggests a possible correlation to the dampening of the reward system of the brain and an increase in negative emotion and addiction severity."


It Could Increase Your Cardiovascular Risk

man holding hands on chest suffering from heart attack

"Marijuana has been shown to cause a fast heartbeat and elevated blood pressure, which can be dangerous for people with heart disease," says Dr. Sanul Corrielus. "It may also aggravate other pre-existing heart conditions in long-term users and those who are older—placing them at greater risk of a cardiovascular event," says Dr. Norris. 

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It Can Tamper Your Coordination and Response Issues

Horizontal portrait of stressful stylish unshaven male regrets something, keeps hand on head, looks down in despair

"Coordination and response time are adversely affected and short term memory is often impaired," says Dr. Jason Levine. "Coordination issues in conjunction with an altered experience of time are likely to blame for impaired driving and an increase in car accidents."


It Can Lead to Respiratory Issues

man face closeup with a sore throat, sick due to a virus, tired and overwhelmed

"While smoking cannabis daily has less of an impact than smoking cigarettes," says Dr. Carey Clark, "some people who smoke cannabis can end up with issues like chronic cough and excess mucus or phlegm production." "The most deadly aspect is that it increases your risk of lung cancer 7% per year," says Osita Onugha, MD. "However," says Dr. Lili Barsky, "these symptoms can improve with cessation."

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It Can Cause Memory Issues

Memory Disorder

"Long-term marijuana use can decrease an individual's performance on memory-related tasks and cause a decrease in motivation and interest in everyday activities," says Dr. Chris Norris. "The effect of cannabis temporarily prevents the brain from developing new memories and learning new things, which is a form of short-term memory."   


It Can Affect Your Developing Brain

Medical doctor pointing with pen to the brain poblem on the MRI study result

"The brain continues to develop through adolescence and into adulthood, and those areas of the brain that control executive functioning, processing, judgment, and decision making are the last to develop," says Dr. Randall Dwenger. "Marijuana use can impair this brain development and have a long-lasting impact on the individual's future."

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It Can Increase Your Anxiety

sad woman near window thinking

"A 2017 national survey of more than 9,000 Americans found that 81 percent believed marijuana had one or more health benefits. Nearly half of these respondents listed "anxiety, stress, and depression relief" as one of these potential benefits," reports Healthline. "But there also seems to be just as many people who say marijuana makes their anxiety worse." So use with caution, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael