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14 surprising benefits and risks of using marijuana, from weight loss to worsened anxiety

Marijuana can be an unpredictable drug with effects that vary based on a variety of factors including your brain's unique chemistry, the type of marijuana used, how much you consume, and your method of consumption.

For example, if you smoke marijuana, you'll feel its effects seconds after you inhale, which typically lasts for another one to four hours. Edibles, however, can take about an hour to kick in with effects lasting up to 24 hours.

Studies on marijuana's effects often show conflicting results, and its status in the United States as a federally illegal schedule one drug makes it difficult for researchers to conduct large, comprehensive studies.

With that said, here's what we know so far about the short-term and long-term effects of marijuana:

1. Causes red eyes

Marijuana typically lowers blood pressure causing blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow. "As a result, blood vessels in the eyes expand, leading to red or 'bloodshot' eyes," says Lawrence Weinstein, MD, the Chief Medical Officer at American Addiction Centers.

2. Relieves pain

Studies suggest marijuana moderately reduces pain, particularly nerve pain, muscle spasms, and cancer. Researchers believe this is due to THC binding to multiple receptors within the nervous system and blocking the sensation of pain.

3. Stimulates appetite

Appetite stimulation is one of marijuana's most well-known effects. It is linked to THC binding to receptors which release the hormone, ghrelin, that stimulates appetite, says Weinstein.

4. Induces euphoria

Studies show THC increases dopamine in the brain, the neurotransmitter responsible for euphoria. This induces feelings of bliss commonly referred to as "feeling high."

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