Overview of Cannabis

Cannabis is a psychoactive drug that exhibits properties of a stimulant, depressant, and hallucinogen. Most cannabis is generally consumed by smoking; though it is also possible to eat and drink forms of prepared cannabis. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is considered the primary active component of cannabis and its effects. The THC levels in cannabis today average about 13% compared to 3.75% in 1995, as reported by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Thus, today’s users are much more likely to become dependent.

Effects of Cannabis

The effects of cannabis, or the “high,” are subjective and vary depending on several factors including but not limited to the user, THC levels, method of ingestion/consumption, and type of marijuana. Some immediate effects include:

  • Distorted perception
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficult focusing, thinking, and problem-solving
  • Dilated blood vessels in the eyes
  • Poor memory and learning ability
  • Increased appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Deceived perception of time
  • Suppressed ability to vomit
  • Mixing alcohol and marijuana use increases the likelihood of choking on one’s vomit if alcohol poisoning simultaneously occurs.
  • It can also increase vomiting if mixed with alcohol.

Long Term Effects

Studies suggest that long-term cannabis users experience cognitive effects such as memory deficits, lack of motivation, and decreased learning ability. Mental health problems include depression and anxiety. Cannabis is habit-forming and can get in the way of academics, relationships, and the law. Heavy marijuana users statistically report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, and less academic and career success compared to non-cannabis users. Other long term effects include shortness of breath, trouble exercising, and respiratory diseases later in life (e.g. emphysema).


If you think you or a friend may have an issue with cannabis, call (530) 752-6334 or go to Health-e-messaging and log in to schedule an appointment with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Intervention Services Coordinator. There is no charge for the confidential appointment.