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What Smoking Marijuana Every Day Does to Your Body

With medical marijuana legal in states like California, Colorado, Illinois and a growing list, adoption of the drug is becoming more and more commonplace—as is consumption. We consulted doctors and medical resources to discover what happens if you smoke marijuana every day. (Note: do not use marijuana without consulting a medical professional first.)

First, The Positive Effects

Marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of health issues. Read on to discover how it can be used best.

It Can Relieve Your Pain

Marijuana is often used as a source of pain relief, as you can get a medical card for it to treat issues like cancer or inflammation. “German researchers found that marijuana-based remedies increased the number of people who reported a 50% or more reduction in pain relief,” says WebMD . “In a small study of 47 patients with Parkinson’s disease, Israeli researchers found a 27% improvement in pain with marijuana use.”

It Can Lead to Less Anxiety

“I found Marijuana at the age of 19,” says Peter Pryor, M.D. “It has always been a bit of a godsend for me because it helps me daily with anxiety and many other benefits.” (Read on to discover how marijuana can also increase anxiety for some.)

It Can Regulate Blood Sugar

Insulin is which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Insulin resistance is linked to a greater risk of diabetes. However, according to Mary Clifton, M.D , marijuana offers “less insulin resistance.”

It Can Lower Your Cholesterol

Millions of Americans live with high cholesterol, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. However, according to Dr. Clifton, “people who use cannabinoid formulations regularly are found to have lower overall cholesterol.”

It Can Lower Your BMI (If You Don’t Snack)

Despite the common feeling of having “the munchies” after using marijuana, cannabis users tend to weigh less and are less likely to be obese. They have a “lower BMI,” says Dr. Clifton. According to the CDC , BMI (aka body mass index) “is a screening tool used to identify individuals who are underweight, overweight, or obese.”

Now, The Negative Effects

“Your mileage may vary,” as the expression goes, but using marijuana every day may have negative effects, also. Here are a few noted by the doctors.

You Can Develop Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD)

“This means that these users develop such an ironclad tolerance to marijuana that they have to consume increasing amounts to feel the same euphoric sensations,” says Dr. Sal Raichbach . “This leads to decreased reactivity to dopamine, which suggests a possible correlation to the dampening of the reward system of the brain and an increase in negative emotion and addiction severity.”

It Could Increase Your Cardiovascular Risk

“Marijuana has been shown to cause a fast heartbeat and elevated blood pressure, which can be dangerous for people with heart disease,” says Dr. Sanul Corrielus . “It may also aggravate other pre-existing heart conditions in long-term users and those who are older—placing them at greater risk of a cardiovascular event,” says Dr. Norris.

It Can Tamper Your Coordination and Response Issues

“Coordination and response time are adversely affected and short term memory is often impaired,” says Dr. Jason Levine . “Coordination issues in conjunction with an altered experience of time are likely to blame for impaired driving and an increase in car accidents.”

It Can Lead to Respiratory Issues

“While smoking cannabis daily has less of an impact than smoking cigarettes,” says Dr. Carey Clark, “some people who smoke cannabis can end up with issues like chronic cough and excess mucus or phlegm production.” “The most deadly aspect is that it increases your risk of lung cancer 7% per year,” says Osita Onugha, MD . “However,” says Dr. Lili Barsky, “these symptoms can improve with cessation.”

It Can Cause Memory Issues

“Long-term marijuana use can decrease an individual’s performance on memory-related tasks and cause a decrease in motivation and interest in everyday activities,” says Dr. Chris Norris . “The effect of cannabis temporarily prevents the brain from developing new memories and learning new things, which is a form of short-term memory.”

It Can Affect Your Developing Brain

“The brain continues to develop through adolescence and into adulthood, and those areas of the brain that control executive functioning, processing, judgment, and decision making are the last to develop,” says Dr. Randall Dwenger . “Marijuana use can impair this brain development and have a long-lasting impact on the individual’s future.”

It Can Increase Your Anxiety

“A 2017 national survey of more than 9,000 Americans found that 81 percent believed marijuana had one or more health benefits. Nearly half of these respondents listed “anxiety, stress, and depression relief” as one of these potential benefits,” reports Healthline. “But there also seems to be just as many people who say marijuana makes their anxiety worse.” As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID .

We consulted doctors to discover what happens to your body if you smoke marijuana every day. There's good news and bad news to report.

What It’s Like to Smoke Pot Every Day for 50 Years

Catherine Hiller opens up about her lifelong love affair with weed.

Catherine Hiller, 68, is a stoner. She’s a mother of three boys, author of six books, and has been lighting up for nearly half a century. She’s never hidden her habit—except from her kids when they we younger, and maybe some neighbors. And in her new memoir, Just Say Yes, she’s coming out to the entire world about her her years of high adventures.

“A lot of readers have contacted me and told me how grateful they are that I’ve come out,” she says. “Some of these people are younger than I am and may have jobs or political ambitions so they can’t come out. They’re really grateful for someone who can. They tell me I’m their hero.”

We can debate legalization and the scientific effects of marijuana on the human body, but we won’t. This is Hiller’s story, and she has a lot of things to say. No, she was not high during this interview. Yes, she is this cool.

What turned you on to the idea of smoking marijuana?

“By the ’60s I’d been hearing about it for a long time. The more I heard about it, the more it seemed like it was going to be my kind of thing—I just felt it would be. My problem was I didn’t know how to smoke, so I had to teach myself in preparation for the great day someone would offer me a joint—and it happened!

It was the autumn of my first year of college. A guy I was dating simply produced two joints one night, and I was thrilled.

My first hit was like everybody’s first time: I didn’t feel a thing! Then we went into a bar, and suddenly, I did feel it. What I really felt first was the most amazing hunger I had ever had in my life, which I thought was hilarious because I had just had dinner. I began to laugh and laugh. We ordered a hamburger—at least I did—and it was the best food I ever had in my life.”

“It smoothes out my edges—I’m more relaxed, goofier, probably lazier.”

How did your upbringing affect your outlook on weed?

“I had a wonderful mother. My father was great too—he was a social activist—but they got divorced when I was three. It’s been mostly my mom and my stepdad. We lived in Greenwich Village, we had a great time, and they were left-wing. But: Their generation was not into smoking pot. They never really got into it even when I tried to convince them later on in my 20s and 30s. In terms of growing up, I didn’t feel like I was rebelling. I was simply doing what the most forward people in my generation at that time were doing.”

What’s your smoking habit like now?

“I smoke every day, sometimes more than once. It’s extremely relaxing and there’s a mild euphoric feeling. If I took longer smoking breaks, it’d be more dramatic but like everything else, you get used to it. It smoothes out my edges—I’m more relaxed, goofier, probably lazier—which is why I don’t do it before an important call or an interview. I would never be high for those.”

You stopped smoking during your pregnancies—did you experience any withdrawal symptoms?

“I didn’t take any risks during pregnancy—if there had been anything wrong with the baby, I would’ve been mortified. Even though there was no evidence that smoking would hurt the fetus—I had been reading around—all the research wasn’t in and a baby was far too important to take any gambles with.

Now, did I feel withdrawal? No. When I take a little break these days—as I did recently on a trip to Ireland—I don’t feel any physical craving, but the first night or two, it was more difficult to get to sleep. The other thing it affects is inter-ocular pressure. Whenever I quit smoking for a couple of days, by the third or fourth day my eyes start really hurting. This lasts for another five or six days and then it goes away. But that always happens.”

Big question (sorta): Have you ever smoked with your kids?

“Sure, lots of times. I’m not a person who hides things. I’m pretty open about my life. They could hardly miss what I was doing while they were living here. My oldest one didn’t start until college, and I suppose when he came back, I might’ve offered him some. But with my younger sons, they were smoking a little bit earlier. When they were close to 18 and I knew they were smoking around their friends, I offered them a joint from time to time. We’d smoke together and it was fun. Do you remember your first glass of wine with your parents? Many people don’t. It’s not a huge deal to have a drink with your parents, and I think of smoking weed more or less like that. It was just sharing something pleasant with my boys.

Actually, when the children were young, and there were all these D.A.R.E. programs going on, I was very careful. I didn’t want them raising their hands telling their teachers that I smoked pot. My youngest is honest to a fault, and I could’ve imagined him saying, ‘Yes! My mom smokes!’ I hid my smoking habits from him in particular.”

Where do you usually smoke? The bedroom? Outside? What do you like to use? Joints? Bongs?

“Ha! Not the bed. First of all, I don’t want the smoke in the bedroom and my husband is an athlete, and he doesn’t want to inhale secondhand smoke. He wants to keep his lungs really clean. In the warmer weather I like to keep it out of the house—I want it to smell clean. I’ll be out on the back porch usually. In the winter, I’ll put my hand up the fireplace chimney to help it go up and away. Any place in my house is fine. I smoke joints. I was recently given a vaporizing pen, and that was very sweet. Oh, another place I like to smoke in is my kayak.”

Wait, stop. A kayak?

“I have one near my house because I live fairly close to the water. At the end of the day when I get it in the water, smoking is my reward. I go out there at sunset and practice what I call “serenity kayaking.” It’s a nice slow-moving time and a joint is always part of that. People see me—maybe not necessarily smoking—and call out, “Are you as happy as you look?” and I say, ‘Yes, I really am.'”

What do you typically like to do high—you know, besides kayaking?

“Writing is one of the main things. For most of my books, I’ve started those writing sessions high. It really helps me start out well. I also love to smoke before eating dinner. I’m a fairly good cook and do it every night. I just smoke a little to make the food taste even better! I like more complex foods, and of course, sweet things.”

“I just think, ‘Hmm, it’d be nice to be high now,’. not to escape the bad things but to enhance the good things.””

Where do you get your marijuana?

“I’ve had the same dealer for 35 years who deals out of the same tiny, scruffy apartment he’s been in for even longer than that. We’ve been good buddies, and everyone who goes there has a key—that’s the only way you can get in there. He’s very, very careful. He’s the most careful person I know, which is why he’s been able to maintain his business for so long. He was a colleague of my first husband in a particular entertainment business. Soon he began doing less of the business and more of the dealing.”

How do you feel about the fact that what you’re getting comes from an illegal black market?

“Here’s the thing: I only used to get something called ‘Mexican’ because I’m fairly frugal and since I smoke a lot, I don’t want it to make a dent in a budget. It’s not actually called that, but he’ll say, “Oh, you want more Mex?” There was an excerpt from my book in the New York Times about how I buy weed. It gathered a huge number of comments—maybe 650—and a common theme was that I was supporting the Mexican drug cartels and their murders. I didn’t think my ounce or two every couple of months was doing that, but it did make me think. I try to be an ethical consumer, and from now on, I might buy more expensive strains that are grown in America and freed from that particular taint.”

Do you have any crazy, weird weed stories?

“I’ve created a website called MarijuanaMemoir.com and invited people to contribute marijuana stories. There’sa hilarious oneabout a group of kids who enter a hot dog-eating contest when they’re stoned. you should check it out. Listen, I’ve had many experiences in my life stoned, let’s just say.”

The science is debatable here, but do you think you’re dependent on marijuana?

“I always have some—I don’t think there’s been a moment in my adult life, except my pregnancies, when I didn’t have some around. I guess that’s an indication of dependency. I would not like to be without it. Also, I just miss it. It’s not like I’ll see bugs crawling on the wall or anything. I just think, ‘Hmm, it’d be nice to be high now,’ just to enhance the pleasures of life, which is why I do it. Not to escape the bad things but to enhance the good things.”

Catherine Hiller
is an author of
Just Say Yes
and editor living in the suburbs of New York City.

Here, a Q&A with Catherine Hiller, author of "Just Say Yes" who's smoked weed almost every day for half a decade.