Marijuana is a mix of dried flowers, stems, seeds and leaves. It is derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. This plant can be smoked and ingested. It is a psychoactive drug, which is a chemical substance that changes brain function and results in alterations in perception, mood or consciousness.

How does this affect me?

According to the 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey: Over 11% of 8th graders and 35% of 12th graders have tried marijuana in the past year. Despite becoming legalized/decriminalized in many states, there are still many risks involved with its use.


Marijuana contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. When it’s smoked, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. Once it reaches the brain, THC attaches to neurons with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence thinking, concentration, pleasure, memory, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

Short-Term Effects

  • Changes in sensory perception and mood
  • Difficulty with thinking and problem solving
  • Lack of coordination
  • Disrupted learning and memory
  • Impaired judgment and decision making
  • Sleepiness
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Paranoia
  • Increased appetite
  • Relaxed muscles

Long-Term Effects

  • Persistent cough
  • Frequent respiratory illnesses
  • Lung infections
  • Heart damage
  • Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts among adolescents. Persons with a family history of schizophrenia have an increased risk of developing schizophrenia at an earlier age.

Other Effects

  • Reduced school performance
  • Increased rate of drop out
  • Additionally, high school seniors who smoke marijuana are twice as likely to receive a traffic ticket and 65% more likely to get into an accident than those who don’t smoke.


Is Marijuana Addictive?

It is a common misconception that marijuana cannot be an addictive substance. Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among people who use marijuana daily (to 25-50 percent). Individuals who frequently use marijuana have reported withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving.

Is Marijuana A “Gate-way Drug”?

This is a difficult question to answer, and one on which researchers cannot agree. What we do know is that research suggests that youth and adults who use illicit substances often have their first drug experiences with tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.

What is “Medical Marijuana”?

Medical marijuana refers to marijuana being used for the treatment of a medical condition. 23 states have approved marijuana for medical use. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved smoking/consuming marijuana as a medical treatment. Instead, some of the active chemicals in marijuana, cannabinoids, have been approved for two medications. These pill versions of THC have been approved to treat nausea (feeling sick) in cancer patients and to increase appetite in some patients with AIDS. Also, a new product—a mixture of THC and cannabidiol (another chemical found in the marijuana plant)—is available in several countries outside the United States as a mouth spray and is currently being review by the FDA. There is some evidence cannabidiol may be useful in treating seizures in children with severe epilepsy, so a cannabidiol-based drug also is now being studied.

What is the Difference in Legalized and Decriminalized Marijuana?

Legalized marijuana is marijuana that is available under state law for recreational or medical use. Some states allow both recreational and medical use, while others only approve medical use. Decriminalized marijuana means there are reduced legal penalties for the consumption or possession of marijuana. For example, in California, possession of marijuana under 1 ounce is punishable by a civil infraction, not jail time.

Where is Marijuana Legal?

The answer varies greatly from state to state:

  • Marijuana has been approved for legal recreational use in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.
  • Medical marijuana use is permitted in different capacities in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.
  • Marijuana has been decriminalized to some degree in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.
  • Marijuana is still totally prohibited in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

It is important to note that marijuana is still completely prohibited under federal law and is still classified as a Schedule I drug.

What is “Hash”?

Hash, or hashish, is a cannabis product composed of compressed or purified preparations of stalked resin glands, called trichomes. It contains the same active ingredients—such as THC and other cannabinoids—but often in higher concentrations than buds or leaves. Hashish may be solid or resinous depending on the preparation. Hashish can be smoked or orally consumed.

What are “Edibles”?

Edibles are food products made with cannabis in herbal or resin form as an ingredient.

How to Get Help

If you, or someone you know, have a problem talk to a trusted adult. Seek out local substance abuse treatment centers in your area for further help. A physician or a counselor should be able to assist you in finding treatment centers.

  • You can also seek out local self-help groups such as
  • Call Centerstone at 1-888-291-4357 (HELP) to schedule an appointment with a therapist.
  • If you feel like you need immediate help, please call 1-800-681-7444 for 24-hour Crisis Services.