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Cannabis Side Effects: How Weed Works Beyond The High

People use cannabis for various reasons. These reasons can be medicinal, to unwind before going to bed, or recreational, intended for social use with other people. No matter the reason, though, cannabis produces side effects. As with any substance, these can be either positive or negative. Moreover, they vary between individuals. Novice consumers in particular ought to know what to expect, and arm themselves with a few useful tips this blog provides.

What Is Being High?

Although many consumers regard being high as the main goal of using cannabis, it can in fact be called a side-effect, too. Some people intend to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, for instance, regarding the high as an undesirable drawback instead of a goal. Beginner recreational consumers also stand to benefit from knowing what to expect, however. Although individual effects are subjective by definition, consumers generally share similar experiences. One broad distinction between effects is the difference between being high or stoned. People often claim that cannabis flower makes them high. While hash makes them stoned. This can be attributed to the relative percentages of CBD and THC in hash and flower. Even though cannabis flower tends to contain more THC in general, there are plenty of modern hash variants that contain just as much. Determining which cannabis (side) effects you like best is a matter of preference.

Generally speaking, being high produced uplifted, happy feelings. People may experience fits of laughter, become more talkative, or feel more creative or sociable, for instance. Sensory experience, including one’s sense of touch or smell, may become more intense.

Being stoned, by contrast, is largely interpreted as producing a sense of contentment, accompanied by a more mellow experience. Muscles relax and people tend to become more quiet, often fnding it easier to become immersed in music or documentaries, for example.

Roughly speaking, then, many consumers agree that THC is more likely to make people giggly and more sociable, making this a better cannabinoid to share with friends. Strains with high CBD content, by contrast, tend to make consumers more sleepy and relaxed.

Mental Cannabis Side Effects

Occasionally, just like with other substances and medication, cannabis can produce unpleasant side-effects, too. Fortunately, these effects are all temporary and transient, but is nonetheless good to know what to expect. Below, you’ll find a list of potential cannabis side effects that may occur. All of these effects set in during the high (lasting two to four hours).


Using cannabis can make people feel ‘different’ from their everyday sober state of mind. In some cases, that can cause a sense of anxiety, for instance because one’s experience of time changes, or because social settings cause a sense of unease. This effect is known as ‘the fear’, and it partially overlaps with the sense of paranoia described below. Interestingly, cannabis can also be used to counter anxiety disorders as one of the plant’s medicinal applications.

cannabis side effects


Paranoia usually involves faulty interpretations of regular occurrences. Paranoia can give someone the impression they are being followed, or that people interpret what they say as unusual or strange. THC is the psychoactive cannabis compound that can trigger these paranoid thoughts, especially in people with a predisposition for such experiences.

Brief Psychotic Episodes

Fortunately, this is a very uncommon side-effect of cannabis. If someone consumes too much cannabis , vulnerable people may experience temporary (mild) visual or auditory hallucinations. These are more likely to occur in people with a sensitivity to psychosis. People with such sensitivities are strongly discouraged from using cannabis.


Cannabis use produces mild amnesia or forgetfulness in nearly all consumers; it is considered an integral part of the high. People may forget what they were about to say in mid-sentence, or walk over to the kitchen without remembering why. Although such temporary forgetfulness is not considered harmful, research is still underway to rule out lasting effects for people who start using cannabis at an early age.

Physical Cannabis Side Effects

Red Eyes

We all know them: people who keep wearing sunglasses long after the sun goes down. Don’t be surprised to find out they used cannabis. They wear sunglasses because THC dilates the blood vessels in the eyeball, causing temporary redness.

Increased Heart Rate

Although you may not even notice, THC causes slight heart rate elevation. His is harmless except for people suffering from certain heart conditions, which makes this useful knowledge for any potential consumer.

Dry Mouth And Throat

One of the best-knows side-effects of cannabis is ‘cottonmouth’, which manifests as a dry sensation in the mouth and throat. The cottonmouth effect is due to the binding of THC to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. A 2006 study investigating the phenomenon found that THC connects with receptors that signal the brain to initiate saliva production. The THC molecules inhibit these receptors, making it difficult for the cells to convey their signal and thereby lowering saliva production. Although this is a harmless side-effect, it can be quite annoying nonetheless. Luckily, a glass of water usually helps lessen the effect.

Craving For Food

You’ve probably heard of the munchies: a strong craving for food that arises after consumption of cannabis. Similarly to the cottonmouth effect, the munchies is caused by THC’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system. THC connects to the olfactory centres of the brain, which improves taste experience and raises dopamine levels to further intensify the joy of eating and sense of hunger. It also promotes production of ghrelin, the ‘hunger hormone’. Together, these factors cause the incredible urge to empty the kitchen cupboards known as the munchies.

Slack Muscles

Using cannabis temporarily lowers muscle tone, which slackens the muscles and makes arms and legs feel heavier. Whether this is a pleasant or unpleasant experience varies between persons and situations, but unsurprisingly, most people will delay going to the gym until after the high fades.

Controlling Cannabis Side Effects

In case you are planning to try cannabis for yourself, always do so in a safe environment where you feel comfortable. That way, you can relax while you wait for the effects to set in. Make yourself comfortable, make sure you have some drinks ready for that cottonmouth, and get those nachos ready in anticipation of the munchies.

The tips you’ll find below will help anyone prepare for a cannabis experience, whether they are rookies or not.

Take It Easy

Anyone smoking cannabis for the first time ought to take it easy: start out by taking no more than one or two drags or hits. That may not sound like much, but the effects will not take long to kick in, so you’ll know whether you like them soon enough. After that, it’s anyone’s own decision whether to try some more or leave it at that, but going slow is definitely a useful tip.

edibles cannabis side effects

Smoking Cannabis Vs Edibles: Differences In Side Effects

Anyone smoking cannabis will notice the (side) effects almost immediately, whereas edibles can take up to an hour or longer before they make themselves felt. That’s why you should never take too much at once, and wait for an hour to pass before deciding whether to try some more. Don’t worry though: the effects and side-effects of edibles last longer than those of inhaled cannabis (six to ten hours is not uncommon). That means one o\hour of waiting time will leave anyone plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the high.

Cannabis contains a host of different compounds called cannabinoids. Even though cannabinoid research is still in its early stages, over 100 different kinds have been discovered so far. The main cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Various cannabinoids can influence each other’s effects and side-effects by means of the entourage effect. Strains with high CBD percentages, for instance, affect the resulting high by reducing the impact of the THC they contain.

That means cannabis consumers can pick high CBD strains or keep products like CBD edibles handy in case the high gets too intense. The Amsterdam Genetics web shop offers a range of such products including CBD Gummies or the CBD Hot Chocolate Spoon. Just like a cup of CBD Coffee, a nice cup of hot coco with CBD can offer relief in case of cottonmouth as an added bonus!

cbd gummies edibles

A final tip concerns using cannabis for medicinal purposes instead of any recreational (side) effects. Depending on the symptoms, THC strains may be less effective than high CBD strains such as our Blue Monkey CBD seeds. High cannabidiol strains have a wide range of effects on the endocannabinoid system, without producing the high associated with THC.

Cannabis Side Effects: Knowledge Is Power

Whatever you decide to do, always remember that the side-effects of cannabis consumption will pass. Knowing what to expect and how to keep them in check will help reduce any potential negative impact on the cannabis experience, whether you are a seasoned grower or a first-time consumer with an experimental mindset.

Be sure to check our expanding collection of strains, lifestyle, and grow blogs to learn more about cannabis and the wider culture surrounding this fascinating plant.


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