If you've ever smoked marijuana, then you probably don't need me to tell you that there are some wonderful and weird side effects of getting high. After just a few puffs, (or maybe just one puff depending on the quality of your bud) sweet, sweet Mary Jane starts working to relax your muscles, lift your mood, slow down your perception of time, turn on your giggle switch, and even boost your sex drive — but she'll also dry you out, redden your eyes, (thank you, sunglasses) and turn your appetite way up. Oh, and if you have a penis, you should be aware that MJ might mess with it's functionality, which kind of sucks since she'll also make you want to have sex more than normal.
Clearly, getting stoned comes with a whole slough of both awesome and not-so-awesome side effects, and you'll just have to decide for yourself if they're worth the high. (Personally, I vote yes.) Whatever you decide though, it makes good sense to be informed about the side effects of anything we put in our bodies. So, whether you've never smoked weed but are considering trying it, you only blaze socially, or you're a shameless stoner, you should know that there are some weird side effects to getting stoned. Here are eight side effects to smoking weed, explained.
1. Increased Heart Rate
As WebMd puts it, "smoking pot can increase your heart rate by as much as two times for up to three hours." So if you've ever gotten high and then noticed your heart beating uncomfortably fast shortly afterwards, you should know that you weren't just being paranoid — smoking weed can actually increase blood flow to your brain, and that increased blood flow makes your heart work harder.
While I've personally never suffered any major cardiovascular discomfort from smoking weed, I have noticed it speeds up my pulse sometimes — and it can be a bit jarring when you're not expecting it. Additionally, as positive as I like to be about cannabis, it's a fact that this weird side effect of smoking weed can be downright dangerous if you already suffer from a heart condition.
Also, while weed can help with anxiety, it can also make you freak out super hard if your heart rate increases and you don't know why. So the next time you light up, just listen to your body. If you feel like your heart's working too hard, maybe just skip your next turn in rotation, and find an open space to stop, drop, and yoga.
2. "Cotton Mouth"
According to TruthOnPot, "cotton mouth" happens when a cannibinoid like THC binds itself to the receptor of our submandibular glands, (a pair of glands located on the floor of our mouths which produce about 70 percent of our saliva) and causes them to stop receiving the messages from our parasympathetic nervous system which would normally tell them to make more saliva.
However, if you drink plenty of water, (which is really something we should all be doing whether we're stoned or not) you can take care of your "cotton mouth" pretty easily. So stay hydrated — and if you're planning on getting high at a buddy's house, take a water bottle with you.
3. "Weed Dick"
OK, so, weed dick may not directly affect you if you're a lady — but if your partner has male genitalia, then weed dick is something you should know about, too. Back in 2013, High Times reported that certain molecules in marijuana target nerve receptors in the penis and can actually cause them to go numb — which in turn can obviously make it more than a little bit challenging for men to maintain an erection while stoned.
So, just like your dude may have issues getting it up when he's drunk, he could face some difficulty, ahem, "rising to the occasion" when he's stoned, too. Fortunately, though, weed dick is allegedly only a cause for concern in men who smoke daily.
4. Increased Tolerance (In Women, At Least)
In October of last year, LiveScience reported that women are more likely to develop a tolerance to marijuana than men are. According to a 2014 study on female rats which was performed by Washington State University Psychologist, Rebecca Craft, and published in the journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, female rats are more likely to develop a tolerance to weed than males. The female rats in Craft's study were also more sensitive to the painkilling qualities of cannabis than the males, and they were the most sensitive around ovulation.
5. Increased Appetite
Even weed virgins know that getting stoned will make you hungry AF, but what's weird about this side effect is why getting stoned sometimes makes us feel like single-handedly eating whole pizzas and mountains of mac and cheese.
So here's the deal: THC tricks our brains into thinking we're hungry (even if we just ate) by latching onto our brain's cannabinoid receptors and mimicking the natural cannibinoids in our brain that work to regulate our appetites and signal when we're hungry. And, voila, munchies.
If snacking outside of meal times is something you try to avoid, or you're on a budget and don't want to spend any more on groceries than you absolutely have to, maybe just stick to getting stoned right before meal times.
6. Incessant Giggling
Laughing is not only super fun, it's literally good for you. So, for many stoners, one of the most pleasurable (and weird) side effects of getting stoned is how much it makes us laugh — but why does weed make everything seem funnier? Well, there really isn't just one reason; the explanation for why marijuana gives us the giggles is a trifold one.
Firstly, cannabis has been shown to increase blood flow to the right frontal lobe of the brain, and this just so happens to be the part of our brain which is linked to humor appreciation. So, naturally, increased blood flow to this area is going to give your giggle box a boost.
Secondly, marijuana use stimulates the production and release of both dopamine and endorphins in the brain — and since both of these neurotransmitters work to make us feel happy, content, and rewarded when released into our bodies, getting stoned puts us in the mood to laugh more than normal.
Thirdly, getting stoned makes you laugh because laughter is very much a "reflex activity." When you mix increased blood flow to the humor appreciation sector of your brain with all those feel-good chemicals we were talking about, it essentially makes laughter an inevitability — particularly if everyone around you is laughing, too.
7. Slower Perception Of Time
Like every single stoned scene from any movie or TV show will tell you, getting high tends to slow things down — and it can actually be quite relaxing, because it forces us to slow down, too.
The reason our time perception changes during a high is a little bit freaky, though. According to a 1998 study, our world slows down when we're high because marijuana alters blood flow to our cerebellum (the part of the brain that regulates muscle activity), and the cerebellum is linked to our body's timing system.
I'm sure you already know that marijuana is famous for it's ability to induce drowsiness, and if you've ever gotten high, you've undoubtedly experienced it for yourself. However, you may not know why smoking weed and being sleepy are usually considered synonymous.
TruthOnPot explains that weed makes you feel sleepy (it can also mess up your sleep, so be careful about using it for insomnia) because the active cannabinoids in marijuana (THC and CBD) actually mimic the affects of our body's natural sleep regulators, or endocannabinoid system. Basically, smoking weed can kick-start your body's natural sleep/wake cycle, thus causing you to feel drowsy after smoking, even if you felt wide awake before you smoked.