The Facts About Recreational Marijuana
Knowing about marijuana can help you tell if your child or someone else is using it,
and help them get treatment.
Marijuana is the most commonly used mind-altering drug in the U.S., after alcohol.
It's illegal in some states, but other states have legalized it for medical and recreational
use. The drug comes from the hemp plant. The chemicals in marijuana are found in the
leaves and flowering shoots. THC is the most well-known of these chemicals. There
are also manmade chemicals that act like THC. But they are much stronger. They are
synthetic marijuana. They are sold under names, such as K2, Kronic, or Spice.
Marijuana can be used in several forms. It's often smoked as a dry, shredded green
and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leave. It can be smoked as a cigarette
(joint), in a pipe or bong, or as a blunt. A blunt is a cigar casing that has been
filled with marijuana. Vape cartridges and pens filled with marijuana also have become
The drug might also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea. There is a large commercial
market for "edibles." This term refers to marijuana mixed in products meant to be
A more concentrated form called hashish is made from the tops of female plants. It
has the highest concentration of THC. It's often pressed into small, solid pieces
that look like a small piece of chocolate. These are often put inside a regular cigarette
Studies suggest that some types of marijuana are now much stronger than in the past.
Users can become dependent on or addicted to marijuana, just as someone can with alcohol
and tobacco. A person is dependent on marijuana when they have withdrawal symptoms.
Someone is addicted to the drug when the drug use interferes with many aspects of
life but they still can't stop using it. Drug use may affect their finances, schoolwork,
and social life.
Symptoms of use
These are some effects of marijuana use:
Feeling of joy, relaxation
Increased sense of sight, hearing, and taste
Loss of coordination. This makes it difficult, even dangerous, to do things such as
drive a car.
False sense of time
Trouble thinking and problem-solving that can also affect driving
Can't tell the difference between oneself and others
Anxiety or panic reactions or being overly suspicious and distrustful can be seen
with higher concentrations. This doesn't always happen. In fact, many people take
marijuana to treat anxiety.
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 get very sleepy.
Some long-term marijuana users who smoke the drug daily may have repeated and uncontrolled
vomiting (cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome). They often feel better when they take
a hot shower. But many people get medical care.
What to look for
If you're worried that your child may be using marijuana, know what signs to look
for. These include the following behaviors:
Withdrawal or separation from others
Not careful about personal hygiene or grooming
Relationships with family members and friends get worse
Other things that may be linked to drug use include changes in school performance,
skipping or missing school, lost interest in sports or other favorite activities,
and changes in eating or sleeping habits.
Parents should also be aware of signs of drugs and drug items. These include:
Pipes and rolling papers
Strange smell on clothes and in the bedroom
Using incense and other deodorizers
Using eye drops
Frequent red eyes
Unexplained changes in appetite
Eating more food
Long-term studies of high school students show few young people use other drugs without
first trying marijuana. So the chance that a child will try cocaine is much higher
if they have tried marijuana.
Marijuana can be harmful in several ways. Some of these are felt right away. Others
damage a person's health over time. Marijuana affects short-term memory and the ability
to handle difficult tasks. When using stronger types of marijuana, even simple tasks
can be difficult.
The drug affects a person's ability to understand and also their reaction time. So
users get in car crashes more often 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 infections.
Students who use marijuana may find it hard to study and learn because it hurts the
ability to focus and pay attention. And young athletes may perform poorly. THC affects
timing, movements, and coordination.
Synthetic marijuana products can have even more harmful effects. Hallucinations, kidney
damage, seizures, and even death have been reported with these products.
Marijuana smoke contains some of the same compounds that cause cancer as tobacco.
But they are 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, such as those sponsored by Narcotics Anonymous.
Recent news stories and state laws have addressed the possible medical benefits of
marijuana and its casual or recreational use. But these don't apply to children and
teens. Teens often refer to these stories and laws to defend their use of marijuana.
There are many reports of small children overdosing on marijuana by accidentally eating
edibles. These edibles often take the form of a gummy candy. Children eat them thinking
they are candy.
There's no quick and easy way to prevent teen drug use. But you can influence your
children by setting clear rules about not using drugs. Talk with your children about
the dangers of using marijuana and other drugs. Act as role models, and stay very
involved in your children's lives.