How marijuana reacts in the body

  • Marijuana is the most complex of all the street drugs. It has hundreds of known constituents

  • Some are unique to the cannabis sativa plant and are classified as cannabinoids.

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol – THC- is the psychoactive i.e. mind altering ingredient.

  • Unlike alcohol that is water-soluble and eliminated from the body within twenty-four hours, cannabinoids are lipophilic i.e. they dissolve in fatty tissue.

  • When a joint is smoked the cannabinoids enter the bloodstream via the tiny alveoli that line the lungs.

  • Among the blood thickeners are corpuscles and natural chemicals called lipoproteins.

  • The fat loving cannabinoids latch onto the fatty surfaces of corpuscles and bind to the lipoproteins, both of which are carried throughout the body and are then slowly eliminated from the body.

  • The cannabinoids seep into the main types of fat deposits in the body:

  • The brain, which is approximately 60% fat.

  • The gonads (testes and ovaries), the adrenals, the liver and other major organs that act as fat storage depots. (The brain, testes and ovaries are the most sensitive to the effect of cannabinoids).

  • The protective cushions of fat that surround many major organs such as the heart and kidneys.

  • The surface and internal membranes of every cell in the body.


  • Two important features of cannabinoids are their fat solubility and prolonged retention - half-life of five to seven days.

i.e. it takes five to seven days to eliminate 50% of the ingested cannabinoids

  • Half the THC from a single joint remains in fatty tissues and cell membranes for approximately one week after it is smoked. The rest is slowly eliminated over a period of several weeks. If another joint is smoked before the cannabinoids from the previous one have been eliminated, cannabinoids accumulate in the body.

Under normal circumstances nutrients and chemicals flow through the membrane. i.e. the wall of the cell, to nourish and provide energy to the parts of the cell where the chemical reaction takes place- known as the metabolic process.


  • However, when cannabinoids are in the blood stream many are unable to pass through the membrane and instead become embedded.

  • As more joints are smoked, cannabinoids then start to accumulate and eventually saturate the membrane. When that happens cells can no longer function normally.

  • Because the brain is sixty per cent fat, when the neurons (brain cells) are saturated, the brain loses its ability to process information effectively. The brain starts to slow down, thinking coherently becomes difficult, and speech becomes slurred and slow.

Physical effects:

All cells of every organ in the body are affected to some degree by the accumulation of cannabinoids in cell membranes. These include: brain, female reproductive system, male reproductive system, lungs and the immune system.

Psychological effects.

Specific / separate clinical syndromes: short term memory loss, apathy, attention deficits and mood fluctuations. Withdrawal symptoms may cause anxiety, hallucinations and paranoid delusions.


Addiction is a difficult disorder to understand, and one from which many people never recover. No one can assume that he or she is immune from addiction. There is no "safe" way to use illegal drugs, even when done only occasionally. Frequent marijuana use leads to more tissue damage and long-term impairment of our highest intellectual functions than almost any other drug of abuse.

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