Physiological effects of cannabis

The fact that cannabis has a clear effect on humans does not necessarily make it a medicine. After all, alcohol and tobacco have clear effects too, but not many consider them to be medicinal. So let’s first explore the most prominent physiological effects of cannabis. 

Most of these effects are the direct result of the THC present in cannabis, but we increasingly understand how other components such as CBD and the terpenes add to the medicinal effects as well. The table below summarizes the wide range of physiological as well as mental functions effects that have been observed for THC. 


One of the best known effects of cannabis is euphoria, commonly known as ‘feeling high’ or ‘being stoned’. Besides that people may feel relaxed, have an impairment of short term memory, an increase in heart rate, may have uncontrollable fits of laughter, and experience changes in their awareness of the surroundings. 

Colors seem brighter, sounds are enhanced, and even mild visual and auditory hallucinations may occur. Often this is accompanied by a dry mouth and reddened eyes. In a medicinal setting these symptoms are mostly mild and disappear rapidly. 

For inexperienced users or after the consumption of high doses these symptoms can be more severe and may induce uncontrollable movements, anxiety, or derealization/depersonalization, but without the classic withdrawal symptoms. In virtually all cases these effects will disappear spontaneously and without intervention within a few hours.
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