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Tobacco & Other Drugs

Marijuana

Currently, marijuana is the most commonly used "illicit" drug in the United States. Contrary to popular belief marijuana can lead to addiction. Marijuana is not physically addictive; however, it is psychologically addictive which may lead to compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite known harmful effects on functioning (school, social, family, work, recreation, etc.)

Under federal law, "use, possession, manufacturing, distribution, or sale of marijuana, heroin, narcotics, or any other controlled substance is prohibited."

There are both short and long-term health effects associated with heavy marijuana use such as:

  • Learning and memory impairment
  • Coordination/balance/motor impairment
  • Attention and judgment impairment
  • Breathing problems (chronic cough, bronchitis, and emphysema)
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure while high increases risk of heart attack
  • Increased risk of head, neck, and lung cancer
  • Depression/sleepiness
  • Paranoia (anxiety/fear/distrust/panic)
  • Psychosis (hallucinations/delusions/depersonalization)

Marijuana Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is marijuana addictive?

Yes, marijuana can be addictive. Overstimulation of the endocannabinoid system by marijuana use can cause changes in the brain that lead to addiction. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health marijuana accounted for 4.2 million of the estimated 6.9 million Americans dependent on or abusing illicit drugs.

How does marijuana effect the brain?

THC alters the functioning of the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex, brain areas that enable a person to form new memories and shift their attentional focus. As a result, using marijuana causes impaired thinking and interferes with a user’s ability to learn and to perform complicated tasks.

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