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The different health effects of marijuana’s various forms

There are highs and then there are highs. This article will examine why consumers of some forms of marijuana products experience a stronger high than users who imbibe the traditional way, opening themselves to the risk of a more pronounced reaction.

Pharmacokinetics: a primer on absorption

The body absorbs chemicals at different rates depending on the manner of transmission. Edibles (brownies, cookies, Bundt cakes) are metabolized by the liver, resulting in the chemical compound THC passing the blood-brain barrier more rapidly and delivering a powerful high. THC from smoke bypasses the liver. This isn’t to say it is not as potent (between 50 to 60 percent of THC enters the bloodstream), just that the body renders the end product differently.

Consumers should proceed with caution when accepting a friend’s special recipe brownies. Lacing is not an exact science. John Milton wrote, “The mind can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” A loaded brownie can make one user mellow and make another a raving paranoid with heart palpitations.

Vaporization is another mode of transmission. Users can vaporize with different sources of THC. One method is to burn concentrated oils. These oils contain up to 80 percent THC. This is a hefty THC payload for any consumer, let alone a novice. Because of the high concentration rate, side effects such as hallucinations, paranoia, panic attacks and anxiety are more severe. Concentrated THC is one reason why highs turn to lows and users turn to emergency rooms.

Emergency room visits

In 2009, there were over 370,000 visits to emergency rooms and departments because of marijuana. Males outnumbered females for all emergency room check-ins. For marijuana, individuals age 18 to 20 availed themselves of emergency services more than any other age bracket.

Luckily for those ER patients, the low toxicity level of marijuana makes a fatal overdose virtually impossible. This has nothing to do with the effects these substances produce (and the events that occur as a result). Toxicity is the danger of the substance in and of itself. According to the data, “…the risk of cannabis may have been overestimated in the past. At least for the endpoint of mortality.”

While marijuana users may not need to worry about sudden death by overdose, a trip to the emergency room is unpleasant enough on its own. Users should be aware of how the different forms of marijuana affect THC levels and their long-term health.

Sovereign Health Group treats individuals with mental health and substance abuse problems. There is no such thing as a benign drug addiction. Heroin, meth or marijuana: each can wreak havoc in a person’s life in its own insidious fashion. The drug addiction treatment program at our El Paso facility treats the physical effects of addiction as well as the psychological factors that fuel it. Call our 24/7helpline for more information.

About the author:

Darren Fraser is a content writer for Sovereign Health Group. He worked two and half years as reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at

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