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HHS Letter: Common Responses to Marijuana in Humans

Updated: Jan 14

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Common Responses to Marijuana in Humans. On August 29, 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) send a letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recommending that it reschedule cannabis (marijuana) from Schedule I to Schedule III. Read our comprehensive 3,800-word analysis of cannabis rescheduling to Schedule III here.

U.S. Health & Human Services
U.S. Health & Human Services

As much excitement and media attention as the letter created within the cannabis industry, the issue over which thought leaders obsessed was the shift to Schedule III. Unfortunately the letter itself couldn't be analyzed because it was not released to the public.


That all changed in mid-January when the HHS published the full 252-page letter that was sent to the DEA last August. Among those hundreds of densely scientific pages, the letter's authors included a unique list of "common responses to marijuana in humans," listed below.


Common Responses to Marijuana in Humans


Positive Subjective Responses

  • Euphoria

  • Pleasurable "rush" or "buzz"

  • Merriment

  • Happiness

  • Exhilaration


Sedative Responses

  • Sedation

  • Drowsiness

  • Relaxation

  • Changes in sleep

Spanky and his dog Petie from the Our Gang Little Rascals franchise.
Pot changes sleep.

Anxiety and Negative Responses

  • Panic attack

  • Fearfulness

  • Agitation

  • Paranoia

  • Restlessness

  • Dysphoria


Perceptual Changes

  • Hallucinations

  • Feelings seem stronger

  • Spiritual enhancement

  • Changes in time perception

  • Changes in perception (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch)

A marijuana leaf.
A marijuana leaf.

Psychiatric, Social, and Cognitive Changes

  • Illusions

  • Delusions

  • Depersonalization

  • Heightened imagination

  • Disinhibition

  • Emotional lability

  • Memory and concentration impairment

  • Disorganized thinking

  • Impaired judgment

  • Confusion

  • Increased sociability

  • Talkativeness


Physiological Responses

  • Tachycardia

  • Facial flushing

  • Tremor

  • Dizziness

  • Increased appetite, especially for sweet and fatty foods

  • Reduced coordination

  • Ataxia


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