Well Being

What Happens To Your Body (And Brain) When You Smoke Marijuana

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weedswhat happens when you smoke pot

Today, on my Alma Mater's campus, which is in the Northwestern-most city in the continental United States, there are probably bidding each other “Happy Holidays,” because the people who go to that school are really big fans of marijuana. And while the roots of “420” as a day to burn one down are debated among weed smokers and “scholars” (read: weed smokers who also read and write papers), the fact is that, on this high holy day, people smoke a lot of pot. But what actually happens to your body when you smoke marijuana?

Long before Dark Side Of The Rainbow, people have been toking for medicinal and psychological benefits, including pain relief and increased appetite. But newer studies about the drug's short and long-term effects have been confounding–demonstrating various correlations with and impacts upon ailments such as lung cancer, major depression, Alzheimer's, and anxiety.

And while science still hasn't been able to put its finger on exactly what marijuana (and its active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC) can and can't do in relation to diseases and mental illness (at least, not conclusively–for example, we haven't quite figured out why THC seems to slow the production of saliva, leading to dry mouth), we have been able to establish basically what the bodily functions and brain reactions are in response to ingesting cannabis. Here's how it goes:

[Just a heads up–this gallery contains things like images of Snoop Dogg smoking out of a giant glass pipe, so it may not be SFW]

Image: Showtime via