Alcohol & Drug Counseling, Assessment, & Prevention Services

Washington State University ADCAPS

Marijuana Effects

The Basics

Marijuana is different from most other drugs in that it is fat soluble rather than water soluble. This allows the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to be more readily stored in the body. On the contrary, water soluble chemicals are eliminated from the body much more easily. In other words THC is stored in the body's fat cells.

The human organs that contain the most fat (and therefore store the most THC), are the brain and reproductive organs (ovaries or testicles). The storage of THC in these organs has significant consequences for both men and women.

  • Reduces levels of testosterone, which equates to reduced ability to gain lean muscle mass. Based on this, one can say "If you smoke weed don't bother going to the weight room."
  • Reduces libido and sperm count
  • Produces sperm with abnormal chromosomes
  • Disrupts menstrual cycles
  • Produces less healthy eggs in women
  • Development of the mammary glands (gynecomastia) in men
  • Studies show that THC damages the hippocampus, a critical part of the brain in terms of learning and memory
  • Amotivational syndrome
  • Slows the transmission of neurochemicals due to the thickening of the walls of brain cells
  • Causes anxiety and panic reaction
  • Increases heart rate and blood pressure
  • Reduces the supply of oxygen in the blood (at a time it needs more oxygen due to increase HR and BP
  • Decreases effectiveness of the immune system


Due to it being fat soluble, THC has a half-life of 2-10 days (depending of the quantity of THC ingested). This means that it will take between 2-10 days for only half of the THC to leave your system. Half the amount stays put! When THC is measured in the body (usually through urinalysis) it is measured in nanograms (n-9) which is one billionth of a gram!

In comparison LSD, which is widely considered one of the most potent drugs, is measured in micrograms, one millionth of a gram. THC actually is one of the most potent psychoactive drugs of which we know. If it were water soluble as opposed to fat soluble, it would be too potent to use. The user would go into a psychotic state (no fun).

Here's the bottom line: Even if a student only smokes weed on the weekends, that student will have THC in his or her system (brain) during the week - while going to class, studying, working out, etc. If a person is a regular marijuana smoker (3-5 times a week) that person is continually drug effected. See charts below for more information:
Chart A (below): This chart illustrates a person who only smokes once.

Using 7 days as an average half life, one can see that the student still has approximately 200 ng of THC in his or her system a week after smoking.

(The THC levels used for this illustration are accurate as to actual expected levels in a person.)
Chart B (below): This chart illustrates the point that even if someone is smoking on the weekends or once a week, that person's baseline THC level will continue to rise because of the 7 day half-life.

(Usually, the baseline will not continue to rise in a linear fashion but level off depending on a person's metabolism and fat content.)
Chart C (below): Illustrates a regular (4-5 times per week) marijuana user's THC levels.
The baseline THC levels off but stays in a range (as in Chart B) to which the brain adapts. Tolerance to the drug develops and when use is terminated abruptly, withdrawal ensues (physiological addiction).

The withdrawal syndrome includes; insomnia, irritability, anxiety, sweaty palms, loss of appetite, depression, headaches and cravings. These symptoms begin approximately 3-4 days after cessation of use, and symptoms usually dissipate by the 10 th day of abstinence.

Drinking a lot of clear fluids, cranberry juice, foods high in potassium and getting exercise are helpful during this withdrawal period.
About the marijuana plant

Cannabis is prepared in several forms for human consumption:

  • Flowering tops of female plants, called bud or buds.
  • Concentrated resin, called hashish or hash. It is usually processed into blocks. It is called charaswhen it is pressed into long, thin rectangular pieces.
  • Fine crystals of cannabinoids, called kif. It is produced by sifting buds for concentrated consumption or in order to produce hashish.
  • Minimally potent leaves and detritus, called shake
How marijuana is ingested

It is most commonly smoked, and usually in a pipe or the form of a rolled cigarette.

Other methods of smoking include the use of water pipes, or " bongs", and buckets, which cool the smoke and, in the case of bongs, remove some unwanted impurities. Smoke is generally inhaled in a "hit" by opening an aerating hole called a "carb".

Cannabis may also be orally ingested by blending it with alcohol or fats. The effects are significantly reduced if it is not so blended. The effects of ingested cannabis are usually not recognizable for more than thirty minutes (many times longer), making it harder for users to regulate their dosage. Butter preparations are included in foods, commonly cookies and brownies. A drink popular in India, called bhang, includes milk and flavoring herbs (e.g: cloves or cinnamon). See also hashish and hashish oil.


Common Slang

Cannabis: bud, cheeba, chronic, dagga (from Afrikaans via South Africa), dak, dank, dope, doobage, draw, dro (derived from hydroponics), electric puha (from puha, a plant in New Zealand), frodis (from The Monkees), ganja, grass, green, hash, hay, herb, indo, instaga, IZM, KB (kind bud/killer bud), kind, leaf, Mary Jane, nugget, nug, pot, reefer, schwag (low quality), sensi, skunk, sticky-icky-icky, tea, tree, whacky tobacky, weed.

Cigarette: binge, blunt (cigar papers), bomb, bomber, doobie, fatty, grifo, hooter, J, jacob, joint, L (cigar papers), muggle, reefer, rope, spliff.

Reefer was common in the early twentieth century, but it is now oftenly used only humorously, often in reference to the 1930s propaganda film Reefer Madness, which significantly overstated the effects of cannabis.

Intoxication: baked, blasted, blazed, blitzed, buzzed, faded, fucked up, gone, high, keyed, lit, lifted, mashed, mullered (UK), ripped, smashed, spaced, spaced out, stoned, throwed, toasted, wasted, zonked, zooted.

To smoke: bake, blaze, burn, chief, light up, sesh (from session), toke (up)

Early twentieth century: mez, muggles, gage, viper jive.

Potent strains

White widow (light green-white in appearance), Buddha, C99, AK-47 ( C. sativa/ C. indica cross), Bubblegum (very sticky), JuicyFruit, Orange Bud and Blueberry (plant smells or tastes somewhat like its name); G-13 (developed at the University of Washington); BC Bud (from British Columbia, Canada); Thunderfuck, Northern-lights (these two are natives of Alaska), purple haze, kush, Thai or Thai stick (the legitimate product is C. sativa from Thailand or US Grown of Thai seed, the buds being long and treelike in appearance, often with string wrapped in a spiral pattern for the purpose of holding the bud together); Maui Wowie (from Hawai'i); Acapulco Gold. The term Thai stick is also used for imitation marijuana.

The meaning of each of these terms may vary by region and context. Also, it should be noted that, in part due to the illegal status of cannabis in most countries, false information about origin and THC content is perpetuated by dishonest sellers to boost sales or justify high prices.


"Current marijuana users had an overall 70-percent increased risk of testicular cancer compared to nonusers"... Read more at the links below:

Association of marijuana use and the incidence of testicular germ cell tumors

Study sees link between marijuana use, testicular cancer

ADCAPS - Alcohol & Drug Counseling, Assessment, & Prevention Services, WSU Counseling Services, 280 Lighty Student Services Building. Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-1065 | (509) 335-4511 |