Cannabis and Your Body
Cannabis and Your Body is an excerpt from Velsoft’s softskills course: Cannabis and the Workplace. Cannabis is one of the most commonly used mind-altering substances in the world. The laws on growing, selling, possessing and consuming cannabis vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another. Whatever the law may allow in your area, having employees under the influence of cannabis can create problems for your workplace in terms of safety and lost productivity.
Cannabis and Your Body
Why do people misuse cannabis, hashish, and hash oil? They do it to get high. The THC in cannabis has a psychoactive effect, meaning it works on your brain. THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors that are found on the cells of certain parts of your brain. Cannabinoid receptors are found different locations:
|Part of Brain||Responsible for:|
|Hippocampus||Learning and memory|
|Cerebral cortex||Higher thinking|
When the THC attaches, it interferes with the normal communication between the brain cells. It also triggers the release of dopamine, a chemical that helps nerve cells communicate.
People who use cannabis report a feeling of relaxation and intense happiness. They may become very mellow and start to giggle or laugh. However, the drug also causes other short-term and long-term effects on the body:
|Possible Short-term Effects:||Altered senses (colors look brighter, sounds are more distinct)|
|Altered sense of time|
|Changes in mood|
|Impaired body movement|
|Difficulty thinking/performing complex tasks|
|Reduced reaction times|
|Possible Long-term Effects:||Altered brain development in youths and young adults:|
|o Reduced ability to think|
|o Reduced memory|
|o Reduced learning functions|
|Respiratory problems (if smoked)|
|Problems with fetal development in pregnant women|
|Triggering of symptoms in people who are predisposed to schizophrenia|
|Worsening of symptoms in people already diagnosed with schizophrenia|
|Development of substance-use disorder|
The effects can be different from person to person, and the same person can have different experiences each time he or she uses cannabis. How intense the effects are and how long they last for depend on the person’s size and how fast they metabolize the drug, the amount of drug used, how potent it is, and how often the person uses it.
Hashish is generally stronger than cannabis. Hash oil is more potent than either cannabis or hashish.
Mixing cannabis with alcohol can greatly increase a person’s intoxication level. The risk is not merely twice as high as using one substance or the other; rather, the risk increases by three or four times.
Can you tell if a person is under the influence of cannabis? While there is no sure-fire way to tell, there are signs that can indicate impairment:
- Rapid heart rate
- Red eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Poor coordination and balance
- Smell of cannabis on clothing or in hair