Effects of marijuana on the brain

If you’ve been wondering if smoking marijuana can affect your brain – you’re not the only one. On average Google receives more than 4000 searches every month from people in Australia who want to know about the effects of marijuana on the brain.

If you’ve been wondering if smoking marijuana can affect your brain – you’re not the only one. On average Google receives more than 4000 searches every month from people in Australia who want to know about the effects of marijuana on the brain. There are both short-term effects of marijuana on the brain as well some long-term effects of marijuana use. So what can smoking a regular joint or bong mean for your mind?

Effects of marijuana on the brain: mental illness 

Schizophrenia is a type of psychosis – a mental illness where people might see or hear things that aren’t really there. Using marijuana can trigger schizophrenia for those who are at risk of developing it anyway, for example someone with a family member with schizophrenia. Mental illness is one of the pretty serious long-term effects of marijuana, so if you think you might be at-risk of developing a mental illness, it’s best to give marijuana a miss.

Effects of marijuana on the brain: addiction

Being addicted to marijuana means needing to use it to help you feel ‘normal’. The way this affects your mind is that it may make you think about cannabis a lot, spend a lot of time and effort trying to get it and prioritising it over other things like school, work or friends. If you’re addicted it can make quitting difficult and you may experience cannabis withdrawal symptoms if you try and cut down or quit. Being addicted to marijuana can also make you feel anxious, restless, irritable and you might have trouble sleeping.

Effects of marijuana on the brain: decrease in motivation, memory and attention 

Some of the common short-term effects of marijuana use for heavy users are effects on your memory, motivation and attention. This can make you feel lethargic and unmotivated, which can affect your relationships and your mood. If you use heavily, you may also have trouble remembering things or concentrating.

Can smoking weed make you paranoid?

While many of the effects above are the result of using weed heavily or regularly, paranoia is one of the short-term effects of weed that can happen any time you use. It’s different to schizophrenia, which is one of the long-term effects of weed. Paranoia can make people feel scared, worried or afraid – like they are being followed or monitored. Get help from a medical professional if you are worried about someone experiencing this.

If you’d like some more info on how cannabis can affect you, check out our other Marijuana Facts, our YouTube channel, follow us on Facebook, or take part in one of our competitions (with some good cash prizes up for grabs). If you think you or a friend might have a problem with cannabis and need help, check out our Get Help page or call the helpline on 1800 30 40 50. You can also get some more in-depth answers to all your cannabis questions on our factsheets page.

*Please note that the terms ‘marijuana’, ‘cannabis’, ‘weed’ and ‘pot’ are used interchangeably in these fast facts, and all refer to the illegal drug, cannabis, unless otherwise specified.