Long-term Consequences of Smoking Marijuana
Long-term consequences, lasting longer than intoxication and cumulative effects of chronic
abuse of smoking marijuana are:
Many of these are the same as for cigarette smokers. Persistent coughing, symptoms of
bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds are possible symptoms.
Memory and Learning:
Regular marijuana use compromises the ability to learn and to remember information by
impairing the ability to focus, sustain, and shift attention. One study also found that
long-term use reduces the ability to organize and integrate complex information. Marijuana
impairs short-term memory and decreases motivation to accomplish tasks, even after the
high is over.
Long-term marijuana use suppresses the production of hormones that help regulate the
reproductive system. For men, this can cause decreased sperm counts, and very heavy users
can experience erectile dysfunction. Women may experience irregular periods from heavy
More studies are finding that marijuana has addictive properties. Both animal and human
studies show physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms from marijuana, including
irritability, restlessness, insomnia, nausea, and intense dreams. Tolerance to marijuana also
builds up rapidly. Heavy users need eight times higher doses to get the same effects as
infrequent users. For a small percentage of people who use it, long-term marijuana use can
lead to addiction. It is estimated that 10%-14% of users will become heavily dependent.