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Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. [5]

Did you know?

​The potency of today's marijuana has increased significantly over the past few decades. [2, 3]​​

The amount of the main mind-altering chemical, THC, is considerably stronger, as it's been modified to have increased effects.


Plant marijuana products: 

1970s: 1-3 % THC

1990s: 4% THC

Current: 18-23% THC


Extracts and concentrates: 

Extracts and concentrates commonly used in various types of vaping or dabbing devices, tinctures, topicals, and edibles can contain an average of 50% up to 90% THC

So what does this actually mean?

For someone new to the drug, it may mean exposure to higher concentrations of THC, with a greater chance of a negative or unpredictable reaction. 


For those more experienced with marijuana, it may mean a greater risk for addiction if they are exposing themselves to high doses on a regular basis. 

Marijuana is addictive. [2, 5]​​

Approximately 1 in 10 adult users become addicted.

When use starts in adolescence before age 18, the rate of addiction rises to 1 in 6.

Marijuana accounts for the largest percentage of treatment admissions - almost 50% among those 12 to 17 years old. 

In addition, the increasing strength of marijuana is leading to higher rates of addiction and mental health concerns. 

methods of consumption

Usually via joint, pipe, or bong.


Users roll loose marijuana into a cigarette ("joint") or smoke it in a pipe or water pipe ("bong") or in a cigar ("blunt")


Vaporizers heat marijuana to release its THC and vapor is inhaled

Dabbing/Hash Oil

THC is extracted from marijuana creating hash or honey oil (a goey substance), wax or butter (soft, lip balm-like substance), and shatter (a hard, solid substance)


The production of dabs is a dangerous process in which butane gas is used to extract the THC. ​


Beverages or food


Can be mixed into food or brewed as tea and ingested.  In states where marijuana has become legalized, more edibles are being sold, including baked goods and candy that closely resemble well-known foods (e.g., brownies, chocolate, cookies, gummy bears). 

Why some teens use marijuana. [2,4]

  • Curiosity

  • Peer pressure

  • To fit in  

  • To relax

  • To have fun

  • To alter their perspective

  • Those who have already begun to smoke cigarettes or use alcohol, or who have untreated mental health conditions (such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD), or who have experienced trauma are at increased risk for marijuana use. 

It is unsafe to drive after using marijuana.

  • Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in:

    • Impaired drivers

    • Fatally injured drivers

    • Motor vehicle crash victims

  • Driving under the influence:

    • Slows reaction time

    • Lack of motor coordination

    • Inability to maintain speed/lane

    • Impaired time and distance estimation

Smoking marijuana is just as harmful as smoking cigarettes. [1]      

  • Marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke are actually rather similar.

    • Benzopyrene, a carcinogen, is found in both marijuana and tobacco smoke, but in greater concentrations in marijuana smoke.

  • Marijuana smoke typically is inhaled more deeply into the lungs and held in 4x as long as tobacco smoke, giving toxins greater access to the cardiovascular system.

  • Marijuana contains over 400 chemicals, and smoking marijuana elevates heart rate, suppresses the production of hormones regulating the reproductive system, and unequivocally impairs lung function.​

    • ​All use equals risk, and the healthiest environment for teen lungs is a smoke-free one.

  • Smoking marijuana is NOT safer than smoking tobacco.

Marijuana hurts people.

  • Sometimes people believe marijuana is safe because it is a natural plant from the earth which is most often used in its natural form.  The body does not know or care whether a drug is man-made or grown in the ground. 

    • ​A large variety of addictive substances, from the nicotine in tobacco to the opium in poppies, come from nature. 

    • Marijuana, even in its most natural forms, has been proven to carry both health and safety risks.

  • Toxicity from edibles

    • Edibles give users a different kind of high than the one they get from smoking marijuana, largely because the pot is absorbed through the stomach instead of the lungs.

  • Addiction

  • Quality of life

    • Negative impact on school and job: reduced grades, enrollment gaps, and lower income as adults

Short-Term Effects of Marijuana Use
(while using or right after using): [2, 3, 4]


  • Altered senses (e.g., seeing brighter colors)

  • Altered sense of time

  • Changes in mood

  • Impaired body movement

  • Difficulty with thinking and problem-solving

  • Impaired memory

  • Increased heart rate

  • Hallucinations (when taken in high doses)

  • Delusions (when taken in high doses)

  • Psychosis (risk is highest with regular use of high potency marijuana) 


Like any other drug, marijuana's effects on a person depends on many factors, including the person's previous experience with the drug or other drugs, biology (e.g., genes), how the drug is taken, and the drug's potency (its strength). 

Signs to Watch For: [4]

  • Declining school work and grades

  • Abrupt changes in friends

  • Abnormal health issues or sleeping habits

  • Deteriorating relationships with family

  • Less openness and honesty 

You know your child best.  If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. 

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