Marijuana Metabolism in the Body: How Marijuana Affects the Brain (INFOGRAPHIC)

The short-term effects of marijuana are generally felt within a few minutes. But how does marijuana affect each part of your body and how does it reach the brain? We visually present what happens to marijuana after you take it in this infographic.

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Marijuana Is Not Harmless

Medical marijuana has been legalized in many states across the U.S. But there is a myth that legalization of marijuana for medical purposes makes the drug harmless for every day consumption. Additionally, those who use marijuana recreationally do not stop there. Considering marijuana a “light drug”, teenagers often experiment and mix it with other drugs. Plus, an estimate 9-13% of users will develop an addiction to marijuana, which results in:

  1. Drug cravings
  2. Possible physical dependence on weed
  3. Psychological dependence

Several medical studies have confirmed that the use of marijuana outside a strictly control environment such as hospitals or treatment centers is not harmless. Moreover, long-term marijuana use is known to cause many damages, particularly to the brain. Some of them include:

Marijuana Metabolism in the Body: How Marijuana Affects the Brain (INFOGRAPHIC)

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  • addiction, a chronic brain disease
  • chronic cough, bronchitis and respiratory problems
  • diminished satisfaction with life
  • impaired cognitive functions
  • loss of memory
  • reduced motor coordination
  • risk of psychosis

Do not take the use of marijuana lightly!

Instead, understand more about what marijuana does to your brain and body. In this marijuana infographic, we show the route that marijuana takes to get to the brain via the body. We look at the metabolism of marijuana in the body and how it affects almost every organ therein. Don’t forget to post any questions you might have at the end section. We’ll make sure to answer you ASAP.

How Does Marijuana Work In The Body?

1. You smoke marijuana. It can also be eaten or drunk as a tea.

2. LUNGS: Smoking marijuana results in rapid absorption with peak THC plasma concentrations occurring prior to the end of smoking.

3. STOMACH: Following oral administration, absorption is slower and has a more delayed peak in THC levels.

4. HEART: As cannabis gets absorbed into the body, THC makes it’s way through the bloodstream to the rest of the body.

5. BRAIN: THC binds to cannabinoid receptors and interferes with cannabinoid neurotransmitter systems. Weed leads to impaired short-term memory, perception, judgment and motor skills.

6. LIVER: THC is metabolized in the liver. The terminal half-life of THC can range from about 20 hours to 10 days, depending on the amount and potency of the marijuana used.

7. COLON: More than 65% of cannabis is excreted in the feces.

8. KIDNEYS: Approximately 20% of cannabis is excreted in urine.


  • Smokeable weed (pipes and rolling papers)
  • Edible marijuana
  • Cannabis tea

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Marijuana in the Body Questions

Does this infographic answer your questions and concerns about how marijuana travels to the brain and throughout the body? If you have additional questions, please feel free to post them in the comments section below. We are happy to answer all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly. In the case that we don’t know the answer to your question, we will gladly refer you to someone who can help.

Reference sources: NHTSA: Cannabis / Marijuana ( Δ 9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC)
NCBI: Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications
NIH: What are marijuana’s long-term effects on the brain?
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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