Marijuana Q & A
Slang – Pot, Weed, Grass, Joint, Reefer, Ganja, Mary Jane, Dope, Blunt. Usually smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe or bong.
Marijuana puts kids at risk. It is the most widely used illegal drug among youth today and is more potent than ever. Marijuana use can lead to a host of significant health, social, learning and behavioral problems at a crucial time in a young person's development.
Getting high also impairs judgment, which can wreak havoc on teens in high pressure social situations, leading to risky decision-making with issues like sex, criminal activity, driving or riding with someone who is under the influence.
The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Short-term effects of marijuana use include problems with memory and learning; distorted perception; difficulty with thinking and problem-solving; loss of coordination; and increased heart rate, anxiety and panic attacks.
Don't be fooled by popular beliefs. Kids can get hooked on pot. Research shows that marijuana use can lead to addiction.
Is marijuana medicine? Find out what the National Institute on Drug Abuse has to say. Click here to read more.
Learn about efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Illinois and how our children may be affected. Learn more.
Marijuana Q & A
Q. Isn’t smoking marijuana less dangerous than smoking cigarettes?
A. No… it’s even worse. One joint affects the lungs as much as 3–5 cigarettes.
Q. Can people get addicted to marijuana?
A. Yes, research confirms that you can become addicted to marijuana. While it has not yet been proven that using marijuana leads to using other drugs, very few people use other drugs without first using marijuana. Teens that smoke marijuana are more likely to try other drugs, in part because they have more contact with people who use and sell them.
Q. If marijuana is so harmful, why is it being considered for medical use?
A. Some groups are trying to sell the idea of marijuana as a compassionate way to manage pain for really sick people. But there are alternate FDA approved medications for treating many of the symptoms that marijuana is supposed to help. Marinol™ is a safe medicine that doctors can prescribe. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Glaucoma Research Foundation and National MS Society all do not endorse marijuana for medical use.
Get the Facts…
Marijuana affects your brain.
THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, affects nerve cells in the part of the brain where memories are formed. Kids who use marijuana regularly also show a decrease in academic achievement. Even short-term use has been shown to cause problems with memory, learning and problem solving. This could have a negative impact for students learning new information and skills or taking a test in school.
Marijuana affects your body and other aspects of your health.
There are more than 200 known poisons in marijuana. A single joint contains 3 – 5x’s as much cancer-causing tar as a regular filtered cigarette. This may be due to marijuana users inhaling more deeply and holding smoke in their lungs. Marijuana can also limit your body’s ability to fight off infection. Heavy marijuana use has been linked with depression, anxiety and personality disturbances.
Marijuana affects your self control.
Marijuana can distort your sense of time, sight and sound, and seriously impact your motor coordination, balance, alertness and concentration that impact things like driving.
Marijuana is not always what it seems.
Marijuana can be laced with other dangerous drugs without your knowing it. “Blunts”, which are hollowed out cigars filled with marijuana, can also have substances such as crack cocaine, PCP, or embalming fluid added.
Before You Risk It…
Know the law. It’s illegal to buy or sell marijuana. Even holding small amounts can lead to a fine or arrest.
Know the risks. Using marijuana increases your risk of injury from car crashes, falls, burns, drowning and other accidents.
Keep your edge. Marijuana affects your judgment, drains your motivation and can make you feel anxious. Research shows that kids who smoke marijuana engage in risky behavior that can jeopardize their futures, like having sex, getting in trouble with the law, or losing scholarship money.
Look around you. Most teens don’t smoke marijuana.
Know the Signs…
How can you tell if a friend or family member is using marijuana?
Sometimes it’s tough to tell. But there are signs to look for. If your friend or family member has one or more of the following warning signs, he or she may be using marijuana:
- Seems dizzy and has trouble walking
- Red, bloodshot eyes, smelly clothes and hair
- Has a hard time remembering things that just happened
- Acts silly for no apparent reason
- Uses incense, room deodorant, fabric dryer sheets, perfume or cologne to hide smoke or other odors
- New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of smoke
- Eating binge (“the munchies”) after smoking marijuana
What can you do to help someone who is using marijuana or other drugs?
Be a real friend. Encourage him or her to get professional help or talk to a parent, teacher, coach or counselor, doctor or other trusted adult.
For information and referrals, call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
877-767-8432 (en Espanol)