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What Smoking Marijuana Every Day Does to You

Understand the pros and cons.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

A few weeks ago, New Jersey became the latest state to allow recreational marijuana dispensaries. Customers stood in line for hours for their first chance to legally purchase a substance many said helped them with various things from relaxation to the relief of chronic medical conditions. There is evidence that marijuana can be medically beneficial. But marijuana, like every substance, affects people differently. Here are five things that smoking marijuana every day may do to your body. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Marijuana May Improve Chronic Pain

Senior woman with arm pain
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"The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control," writes Peter Grinspoon, MD, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "While marijuana isn't strong enough for severe pain (for example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age." Cannabis may be effective for nerve and muscle pain. It has also been studied for the relief of headaches, insomnia, and fibromyalgia.

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2

Marijuana May Exacerbate Mental Health Issues

Female GP holding on palm medical marijuana
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Marijuana is renowned for being a relaxant, but in some people, it can have the opposite effect,  causing anxiety, paranoia, and even panic attacks, or exacerbating other mental health issues. "Marijuana use can cause cognitive impairment and should be used with caution if you have a mental health condition," says the Mayo Clinic. "Marijuana use might worsen manic symptoms in people who have bipolar disorder. If used frequently, marijuana might increase the risk of depression or worsen depression symptoms."

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3

Marijuana May Cause Trouble Breathing

Young man having asthma attack at home
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Although smoking marijuana, unlike tobacco, has not been found to raise lung cancer risk, its smoke can cause lung issues. "Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs, and people who smoke marijuana frequently can have the same breathing problems as those who smoke tobacco," says the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). "These problems include daily cough and phlegm, more frequent lung illness, and a higher risk of lung infections." 

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4

Marijuana May Impact Your Heart

Senior man suffering heart attack while jogging with wife.
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Smoking marijuana has been found to increase blood pressure, which can be hard on your heart. "Marijuana raises heart rate for up to three hours after smoking," says NIDA. "This effect may increase the chance of heart attack. Older people and those with heart problems may be at higher risk."

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5

Marijuana Might Make You a Worse Driver

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A study conducted in 2021 by the AAA found that people who drank alcohol and then smoked marijuana were more likely to commit violations such as running red lights, speeding and driving distracted. 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 agency says. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael