The Facts About Recreational Marijuana
Knowing about marijuana can help you recognize its use in children and others and
help a user seek treatment.
Marijuana is the most often used illegal drug in the United States. It comes from
the hemp plant (cannabis sativa). The chemicals in marijuana are found in the leaves
and flowering shoots. THC is the most well-known. There are also man-made chemicals
that act like THC, but they are much stronger than THC. They are sometimes called
Marijuana can be used in several forms. As a dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers,
stems, seeds, and leaves, it is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint), in a pipe (bong),
or as a blunt (a cigar casing that has been filled with marijuana). It might also
be mixed in food or brewed as a tea. A more concentrated form called hashish is made
from the tops of female plants. It has the highest concentration of THC.
Some studies suggest that some types of marijuana are now stronger than in the past.
Marijuana users can develop addiction (marijuana dependence) through ways similar
to other drugs of abuse including alcohol, tobacco, and opiates.
Symptoms of use
These are some effects of marijuana use:
Feeling of joy, relaxation
Increased sight, hearing, and taste perceptions
Loss of coordination, making it difficult, even dangerous, to perform tasks
like driving a car
False sense of time
Difficulty thinking and problem solving that can also affect driving
Unable to tell the difference between oneself and others
Anxiety or panic reactions or being overly suspicious and distrustful
Signs of marijuana use include:
Having trouble walking
Being silly and giggly for no reason
Having red, bloodshot eyes
Having a hard time remembering things that just happened
When the early effects fade after a few hours, the user can become very sleepy.
What to look for
Parents should look for withdrawal or separation from others, depression, excessive
tiredness, carelessness with grooming, hostility, and relationships with family members
and friends that get worse and worse. In addition, changes in school performance,
skipping or missing school, lost interest in sports or other favorite activities,
and changes in eating or sleeping habits could be related to drug use.
Parents should be aware of signs of drugs and drug items, including pipes and rolling
papers; odor on clothes and in the bedroom; use of incense and other deodorizers;
and the use of eye drops.
Long-term studies of high school students show few young people use other drugs without
first trying marijuana. For example, the chance that a child will try using cocaine
is much higher for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried
Marijuana can be harmful in several ways. Some of these are felt right away and others
damage a person's health over time. Marijuana affects short-term memory and the ability
to handle difficult tasks. With the use of stronger types of marijuana, even simple
tasks can be difficult.
Because of the drug's effects on the ability to understand and on reaction time, users
are more often involved in car crashes than people who don't use marijuana. They also
may have more risky sexual behavior. There is a strong link between drug use, unsafe
sex, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Under the influence of marijuana, students may find it hard to study and learn because
it hurts the ability to concentrate and pay attention. And young athletes may perform
poorly. THC affects timing, movements, and coordination.
Marijuana smoke contains some of the same compounds that cause cancer like tobacco,
sometimes in higher concentrations.
Treatments for marijuana dependence are similar to therapies for other drug-abuse
problems. These include detoxification, behavioral therapies, and regular attendance
at support-group meetings like those sponsored by Narcotics Anonymous.
Recent news stories and states' laws regarding possible medical benefits of marijuana
and casual or recreational use of marijuana do not apply to children and teenagers.
Teens often refer to these stories and laws to defend their use of marijuana.
No magic bullet can prevent teenage drug use. But parents can influence their children
by setting clear rules regarding no drug use. They can talk to their children about
the dangers of using marijuana and other drugs, and remain very involved in their