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The active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), affects the nerve cells in the part of the brain where memories are formed. When a user smokes marijuana, THC goes from the lungs to the blood, and then to the brain. Marijuana can also be eaten in baked goods and candy. After THC reaches the brain, it causes the "high" which may begin within in a few minutes and may last for several hours.
Smoking marijuana can be damaging to the lungs because some marijuana users inhale the smoke deeply and hold it in their lungs as long as possible. Marijuana smoke contains some of the same toxic particles as tobacco, possibly in higher concentrations. Users’ eyes often will be red.
Long-term marijuana users may develop a psychological dependence and eventually require more marijuana to get the same high. Another long-term effect can be a loss of motivation and inability to complete projects.
Moderate intoxication may include difficulty concentrating and an inability to accomplish tasks requiring multiple mental steps. Driving may be difficult after smoking marijuana.
High levels of intoxication may include a decrease in motor coordination, muscle strength, and hand steadiness. Other signs include walking as if drunk and slurred speech.
Call Carolinas Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 with questions about an exposure to marijuana or for more information.