Learn about marijuana

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What is marijuana?

Marijuana is also known as pot, weed, cannabis, ganja or Mary Jane.  It can produce either a sense of euphoria and relaxation or feelings of anxiety, fear, distrust and panic.

What are the effects of marijuana?

Impaired driving
  • Increased risk of motor vehicle crashes by 2 to 3 times
  • Decreased motor coordination and reaction time
  • Decreased attention and judgment
  • Distorted perceptions of sights, sounds, touch and time
  • The state of Colorado is currently researching how to measure levels of impairment for DUI
  • All impairments are exponentially increased when marijuana and alcohol are consumed at the same time (crossfading)
Academic issues
  • Disrupts and reduces learning, short term memory and focus
  • Difficulty thinking and problem solving
  • Associated with lower grades in school
  • Associated with absence from work or school
  • Associated with higher rates of drop out
  • Risk of Amotivational Syndrome: lowered levels of dopamine, resulting in lowered motivation
Health concerns
  • Temporarily increases heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increases risk of heart attack by 4 times the first hour after smoking
  • Correlated with some mood disorders like anxiety and depression
  • Risk of developing psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia or psychosis
  • May interact  and interfere with prescription medications, like antidepressants and antipsychotics
  • Smoke from marijuana contains up to70% more carcinogens than tobacco smoke
  • Smoking marijuana increases risk of bronchitis and respiratory infection
  • Increases risk of certain cancers, such as lung, head and neck
  • Risk of potential contaminants, such as pesticides, mold and other chemicals
  • At this time, marijuana is not regulated by the FDA; there may be varying levels of contaminants that are harmful to humans
What about chronic use?
  • Can diminish a person’s IQ up to 10 points
  • Impaired cognitive functioning, memory, and decision-making
  • Risk of suffering from depression and anxiety
  • Can cause Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome: nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain resulting from chronic use
  • Risk of addiction or dependency
  • Can suffer non-life-threatening withdrawal symptoms (i.e. irritability, disrupted sleeping, anxiety, craving, aggression)

Is it really addictive?

Read more
  • 17% of people who start using marijuana in their teens will become dependent
  • 25- 50% of daily marijuana users will become dependent
  • Of persons under the age of 15 who went to a drug abuse treatment program, 61% reported marijuana as the primary drug of abuse
  • Addiction commonly co-occurs with other drug dependencies
  • Dependency is most prevalent in youths and adolescents with psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia
  • Signs of marijuana addiction:
    • Tolerance, need to increase amount used to get same effect
    • Withdrawal when drug not used for several days
    • Craving
    • Trouble controlling marijuana use
    • Spending a large amount of time obtaining, using or recovering from use
    • Use interferes with social life, family, school and work

Is using marijuana and alcohol at the same time bad?

Yes, mixing these two drugs can cause unpredictable effects and every person will react differently.

Other effects
  • Effects of both drugs are magnified
  • May cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting
  • May cause anxiety, panic, paranoia
  • Increased risk of becoming too intoxicated

1. Coalition against Drug Abuse (n.d.). Marijuana Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment. Retrieved March 31, 2014, from http://drugabuse.com/library/marijuana-abuse/

2.  Galli JA, Sawaya RA, Friedenberg FK. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. Curr Drug Abuse Rev.2011;4(4):241–249.  

3.  National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (2011, October). Mixing cannabis and alcohol. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://ncpic.org.au/ncpic/publications/factsheets/article/mixing-cannabis-and-alcohol

4.  National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (2013, March 1). Cannabis and prescribed medications. Retrieved March 21, 2014, from https://ncpic.org.au/professionals/publications/factsheets/cannabis-and-prescribed-medications/

5.  National Institute on Drug Abuse (2013). Research Report Series: Marijuana (12-3859). Retrieved from National Institute on Drug Abuse website: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana

6.  National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014, January). DrugFacts: Marijuana. Retrieved March 21, 2014, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

7. State of Colorado (n.d.). Effects - Colorado Marijuana. Retrieved March 24, 2014, from http://www.rmhidta.org/html/august%202014%20legalization%20of%20mj%20in%20colorado%20the%20impact.pdf