Cannabis Science

Is Weed Bad For You?

Is weed bad for you

The stigma around marijuana is well known and documented. Even though times are changing and some states have legalized the drug for medicinal and/or recreational use, others aren’t convinced that it should be used without punishment.

The truth is, marijuana consists of many different compounds which scientists are heavily researching because of the health benefits.  Of course, no drug, medication or any substance is without side effects especially since we’re all so different. Let’s examine if weed is bad for you or is it just a big misunderstanding. 

Why Do People Use Marijuana?

There are many reasons why people use marijuana. Some people simply enjoy feeling high while others may use marijuana for strictly medicinal reasons. People commonly think of marijuana as one compound but it’s actually made of many different compounds. Two of the most popular compounds are THC and CBD. THC is the compound responsible for the high and CBD is most commonly known for its medicinal properties. Both are found naturally occurring in cannabis in varying degrees.

Ways You Can Use Marijuana 

There are a variety of ways you can use marijuana. The way one decides to use marijuana is dependent on their preference or what they’re hoping to achieve.

Common Methods and Uses of Marijuana

MethodOnsetDurationCommon Use
Patches and transdermals5-10 minutes 8-12 hoursMedicinal 
Tinctures, drops, gums, suckers1-3 minutes1-3 hours People who cannot smoke and those who want a measured dose.
Vaporizer1-3 minutes1-3 hoursFast ReliefShort HighDiscreet
Edibles, capsules, brownies, infused drinks30-90 minutes6-8 hoursReduce inflammation for chronic painHelp people stay asleep
Smoking with a bowl, joint, blunt, spliff, bong, pipe1-3 minutes1-3 hours Fast ReliefShort HighGetting to Sleep Quickly
Dabs, wax, shatter, budder1-3 minutes 1-3 hours Fast relief.
Ways to Get High Marijuana Chart (Source: Thrillist)


Dabbing Marijuana Concentrates

People should educate themselves about how each method can affect them before they proceed just so they can avoid surprises. For example, dabs, wax, shatter and budder is very concentrated (60-90% THC) and not recommended for casual users because it may cause fainting. Martha Montemayor, a Certified Nutritional Consultant at a medical marijuana evaluation clinic said to proceed with extreme caution when using dabs.

Marijuana Edibles

Similarly, you also have to be careful with edibles. Since edibles have to be digested first, the high will be delayed. Consequently, people may consume too much too quickly because of the lag. Montemayor stated, “A starting dose of 2.5-5mg for women and 5-10mg for men is recommended, and wait a FULL HOUR before taking another dose, if no effects are felt right away.”

Marijuana Patches

Montemayor said that while marijuana patches are safe, they aren’t very fun because you won’t get high. For instance, there are other options if you don’t like smoke such as tinctures, drops, gums, suckers or even edibles. The one you choose really just depends on what you’re looking for. 

Being knowledgable about these methods is the first step in using marijuana safely and getting your desired effect. 

Health Benefits of Marijuana 

Even though scientists face certain restrictions in marijuana research, they are still conducting experiments and finding out more about the drug. Marijuana has many benefits, many of which can improve the lives of those who use it. 

Marijuana for Pain Management 

According to Medical News Today, chronic pain is the leading cause of disability for more than 25 million Americans. Luckily, cannabis helps its users manage their pain. According to the 2017 report, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research, “In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.”

Marijuana for Epilepsy

CBD, a component in marijuana, helps children suffering from certain childhood epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), for instance. Conditions like those typically do not respond to other antiseizure medication. According to a Harvard article, CBD reduces seizures or stops them completely. The FDA even approved a medicine to treat the seizures containing CBD called Epidiolex. 

Other Marijuana Benefits

Moreover, there have been a number of other health benefits of weed such as improving symptoms of ADHD, strengthen bones, and increase lung capacity

Is Smoking Weed Bad For you? 

People assume that smoking has detrimental effects no matter the drug smoked. After all, marijuana smoke has potentially deadly chemicals, according to Montemayor, the smoke from marijuana contains terrible chemicals. She said “Marijuana smoke contains carcinogens and toxic by-products such as carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and tar.” So is smoking weed bad for you over the long-term?

No Evidence that Marijuana Causes Lung Problems for Moderate Users

Interestingly, science does not seem to prove that moderate marijuana smokers have serious lung problems. For instance, there may be an increased risk of chronic cough in regular smokers but science hasn’t found evidence of an increased risk of lung cancer. 

In addition, Montemayor noted that there were no known cases of lung cancer for people who exclusively smoke marijuana. According to, Dr. Donald Tashkin, professor of medicine at UCLA, he said in this article, “The largest epidemiologic (case-control) study of the association between marijuana use and lung cancer failed to demonstrate that marijuana increases the risk of developing lung (or, for that matter, upper airway) cancer.”

Harvard says Moderate Marijuana Use May Improve Lung Function

Additionally, Harvard Health even posited that moderate marijuana users “may actually improve lung function, perhaps because inhaling gives the lungs and chest muscles a bit of a workout.” This may come as good news to casual smokers who may have been concerned about their lung health.

Heavy Marijuana Users may Experience Pulmonary Issues

According to a 20 year study, Smoking marijuana hasn’t been found to have any adverse effects on pulmonary functions for moderate users. In contrast, heavy users didn’t fare too well. The study concluded that, “Our findings do suggest an accelerated decline in pulmonary function with heavy use and a resulting need for caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered”.

Is Marijuana Addictive? 

Depending on certain factors, such as genes and environment, some people may develop Cannabis Use Disorder or addiction. It’s pretty rare and only affects 1.5% of the US population. Age plays a big role in the development of the disorder. People who use marijuana before the age 18 are 4-7 times more likely to develop the disorder than someone who started using it as an adult. 

Short Term Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana is definitely not the only drug that could cause short term effects that may decrease your ability to operate machinery. According to Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research, “Cannabis use prior to driving increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.”

 According to National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability”. Other drugs that don’t mix with driving are alcohol and sleeping pills

How is weed bad for you?

Daily marijuana smokers may wonder, is smoking weed everyday bad for you? As noted, heavy marijuana users may experience a decrease in pulmonary function over time so should consider smoking less regularly. Additionally, although it is very rare, some people may become addicted to marijuana, especially if you are younger. Of course, this begs the question, is weed really bad for you if you use it casually or medicinally?


In short, any drug or medication will have side effects for someone but that doesn’t mean they won’t reap benefits from it. Being responsible and avoiding weed before you’re an adult are your best bets to enjoy marijuana safely. Whether you use weed recreationally, medically or both, just make sure you’re informed about how the method you’re using may affect you personally. Weed isn’t the scary monster many people paint it to be, at least science doesn’t seem to think so.


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].