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More and more states across America are legalising or discussing the legalisation of marijuana. This brings many benefits not the least of which are financial.

It has been estimated that if the US legalised weed then this could create a $100 billion industry. There would be job creation for the weed shops. Increased income from taxes for the government meaning investment into healthcare and schools.

Plus there would be no need for police to budget for resources involved in stopping weed related crime. There would be more room in prisons and less money spent on inmates.

Does this mean everything is good with marijuana? Not exactly. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean you should use it to excess. Like everything, moderation is key.

Cancer & lung damage

There is no evidence that smoking weed causes lung cancer in the same way that tobacco does however weed smoke contains some of the same chemicals as tobacco does including hydrogen cyanide, ammonia and formaldehyde.

Weed smokers have shown signs of precancerous changes and damage to the lungs.

Concentration and brain activity

Heavy smokers have reported memory problems, being unable to concentrate and have attention problems.

Research and scans have shown changes in blood flow in parts of the brain and also changes to the thalamus where you process information. There is the possibility of this being worse in teenagers as their brains will still be developing.

Worryingly, heavy users are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than non smokers. This is especially true if there is a history of the illness in the family.

Pregnancy and marijuana

There have been studies of children that were born to marijuana users. Children whose mothers smoked weed during pregnancy show neurological development problems.

These include; poor problem solving skills, attention and memory problems and altered responses to visual stimuli.

Drug testing at work and away from home

This area might not directly impact on your health but could have serious repercussions on your life in other ways. Marijuana doesn’t leave your body as quickly as alcohol for example.

Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC can be detected in your urine for up to 30 days and in your hair for up to 90 days. There is a possibility you might be offered a job and then drug tested and then have the offer withdrawn.

More worryingly you may travel somewhere where marijuana is still illegal and be drug tested while being questioned for some other matter (perhaps pulled over for speeding). In South Dakota you will be subject to their laws regardless of where you smoked your pot.

For marijuana users especially heavy ones, it is easy to be complacent and forget you have a little bit of weed on your person or in your bag. There are strict and serious laws in other countries for even the tiniest bit of weed.

Increased tolerance

Heavy users will find their tolerance increases to THC and they need to smoke more. This is true of any drug including other legal drugs such as alcohol or even prescription drugs. THC works in a different way to alcohol though.

Alcohol tolerance might be affected by body weight or body mass and other things like metabolism and how much or little you have had to eat.

THC attaches itself to your CB1 receptors in your brain. When this happens you start to feel ‘high’ and this then affects your appetite, stress and sleep patterns.

Your brain will desensitise these receptors to lessen the effect of each joint you smoke. So the first smoke of the day will be the most effective and each one thereafter less so.

The obvious problem for any pot smoker here is all the risks you have will be increased because you will need to smoke more to receive the same high. This can be reduced by taking a rest.

Long time smokers call this a tolerance break or a T-break. Just one night’s sleep will help to reset your tolerance to some degree but to really feel the benefits you should take a proper break of 1 to 4 weeks.

This will have the added benefits of giving your lungs a rest and also you will need less weed when you return because you haven’t smoked.

Addiction and reducing your intake

Physical addiction to weed is not the same as heroin and you are unlikely to go through full cold turkey if you try to quit smoking weed. There is still proof that marijuana can be addictive to some.

Most users that feel they are addicted might point more to a psychological dependency than a physical one. However when some heavy users stop smoking they have reported withdrawal symptoms for the first week to two weeks.

These symptoms include altered sleep patterns and difficulty sleeping, decrease in appetite, restlessness, irritability and mood problems are common along with cravings and some physical discomfort.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reduce your weed intake though. There are ways to lower your usage and to actually improve your time. Look for weed with a higher CBD and lower THC content. This way you will still be smoking but far less.

Also you could and indeed should put together a plan to cut down or stop smoking. Speak to a healthcare professional for help in making this plan and about any possible withdrawal symptoms and help that they can give.

The final toke

These are some of the things to think about when considering your own weed habits and whether you should cut down.

Other considerations are the cost. How much are you spending each week? Is there something else you could be doing with that money and what about other goals? Are there things in life you would like to be doing that you are not because you spend all evening watching Netflix and smoking a bong.

For all the benefits that legalising weed can bring there are other factors to consider for your own well being.