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Marijuana Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment

Marijuana, also known as pot, grass, reefer, weed, herb, Mary Jane or MJ, is a dried mixture of parts of the hemp plant, cannabis sativa. Most users smoke it in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints, while some use pipes or water pipes called bongs. Marijuana is also used to brew tea and is sometimes mixed into foods.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is a drug present in the Cannabis sativa plant, which contains hundreds of different chemicals. It has mind-altering effects ranging from relaxation and slowed thinking, to panic attacks and memory impairment. Marijuana is one of the most commonly used recreational drugs, and is consumed via smoking or mixed into food. The drug can cause serious health problems related to smoking, as well as unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. (source)

Other names for marijuana

  • Cannabis
  • Weed
  • Pot
  • 420
  • Grass
  • Bud
  • Reefer
  • Chronic
  • Mary Jane
  • Ganja
  • Hash
  • Indo
  • Joint
  • Skunk (source)

Google Trends: Searches for “marijuana”

Throughout the past decade, the prevalence of marijuana-related searches has varied considerably across the United States. Google Trends shows that Colorado, where recreational use of marijuana was legalized in 2013, shows some of the greatest interest in the drug.

How much are people spending on marijuana?

United States

Americans spend tens of billions of dollars on marijuana every year, vastly exceeding the total amount of money spent on Black Friday shopping, for instance.

Countries using the most marijuana

Around the world, national consumption of marijuana ranges from rare to commonplace. From relatively widespread consumption in North America and Western Europe, to minimal prevalence in East Asia and Central America, every nation shows its own trend.

Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 1
Signs and Symptoms
Some noticeable signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse include:

  • Rapid, loud talking and bursts of laughter in early stages of intoxication
  • Sleepy or stuporous in the later stages
  • Lack of concentration and coordination
  • Forgetfulness in conversation
  • Inflammation in the whites of the eyes
  • Odor similar to burnt rope on clothing or breath
  • Distorted sense of time passage and a tendency to overestimate time intervals
  • Craving for sweets
  • Increased appetite
  • Use or possession of paraphernalia including roach clips, packs of rolling papers, pipes or bongs

In order to qualify for the diagnosis of marijuana addiction, an individual must suffer from a negative pattern of use of this drug that results in significant problems or suffering, with at least three of the following symptoms occurring at the same time in the same one-year period:

  • Tolerance (decreased effects of marijuana over time or a need to increase the amount used to achieve the desired effect)
  • Withdrawal (characteristic symptoms that occur when the individual abstains from using marijuana for several days)
  • Often taking marijuana in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than planned
  • Persistent desire to use marijuana or trouble decreasing or controlling its use
  • Spending significant time either obtaining marijuana (for example, buying or growing it), using it or recovering from its effects
  • Significant social, educational, occupational or leisure activities are either abandoned or significantly decreased as a result of marijuana use
  • Marijuana use continues despite being aware of or experiencing persistent or repeated physical or psychological problems as a result of its use

How many people used marijuana in the last month?

United States, aged 12+

Recent usage of marijuana is common in the US - in 2013, almost 20 million people reported using marijuana in the prior month.

How many people used marijuana in the last year?

United States, aged 12+

From 2012 to 2013, the number of people in the US who reported using marijuana in the previous year increased by over 1.4 million.

How many people have used marijuana in their lifetime?

United States, aged 12+

Whether people just try it once or make a habit of it, lifetime marijuana usage is incredibly common in the United States: over 110 million people, or more than a third of the population, report having ever used marijuana.

If you need help with a marijuana addiction, call our helpline on 1-800-943-0566.

Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 2
Effects of Marijuana Abuse
Within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke, an individual's heart rate speeds up, the bronchial passages relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red. The heart rate-normally 70 to 80 beats per minute-may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute, or may even double.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active ingredient in marijuana, responsible for many of its effects. When marijuana is smoked, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to organs throughout the body, including the brain.

As THC enters the brain, it causes the user to feel euphoric-or high-by acting on the brain's reward system, which is made up of regions that govern the response to pleasurable things like sex and chocolate. THC stimulates brain cells to release the chemical dopamine. Along with euphoria, relaxation is another frequently reported effect in human studies. Other effects, which vary dramatically among different users, include heightened sensory perception (e.g., brighter colors), laughter, altered perception of time and increased appetite. After a while, the euphoria subsides, and the user may feel sleepy or depressed. Occasionally, marijuana use may produce anxiety, fear, distrust or panic. Marijuana use impairs a person's ability to form new memories and to shift focus. Therefore, learning, doing complicated tasks, participating in athletics and driving are also affected.

The effects of Marijuana use on the user depend on its strength, or potency, which is related to the amount of THC it contains. The THC content of marijuana has been increasing steadily since the 1970s.

Individuals who become dependent on marijuana tend to be less motivated and less satisfied with their lives. They are also at risk for depression and for abusing alcohol and other drugs.

Purity levels of marijuana

Retail level

The purity of marijuana varies substantially around the world, from the single digits to near 100%. Click on the map above to see worldwide purity levels of cannabis herb, oil, and resin.

Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 3
Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 4

Marijuana Abuse Treatment
While most individuals with marijuana dependence are treated on an outpatient basis, admission to both outpatient and inpatient treatment programs for marijuana addiction has increased over the years. Behavioral and family-based treatments have been found to be effective for marijuana abuse and addiction. There is as yet no medication that has been shown to be a clearly effective treatment for marijuana abuse.

If you are looking to transition back into a healthy lifestyle, please call 1-800-943-0566 to discuss treatment options.

How much marijuana is cultivated each year?


In 2010, Afghanistan became the top supplier of marijuana around the world. And in 2012, total marijuana cultivation in Afghanistan occupied a greater area than Miami, Florida.

How much marijuana resin is produced each year?


Marijuana resin, or hashish, has become a major export of Afghanistan's farmers. Over 1,000 tons of resin were produced in 2011 and 2012.

United States DEA annual production quotas for marijuana

For several years in the mid-2000s, the DEA’s marijuana production quota stood at 4,500 kilograms a year to facilitate the research and development of a product by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, before dropping to a mere 21 kg a year. In 2014, the United States DEA increased the amount of marijuana that can be produced for research purposes by nearly 30 times, in order to meet demand from researchers working with cannabis.

Annual market size for marijuana

  • $40.6 billion (US, 2010) (source)

In 2010, Americans spent nearly as much money on pot as they did on their pets - the size of the US market for marijuana was over four-fifths that of the market for pet products.

Street price of marijuana

United States

Price per gram

In some ways, illicit drugs are a market like any other: over the past decade, the average street price of a gram of marijuana has ranged from a low of $6.72 to a high of $7.50.

Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 5

Marijuana Statistics
According to statistics gathered in 2009, 28.5 million Americans age 12 and older had abused marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Web Site).
The NIDA-funded 2010 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 13.7 percent of 8th graders, 27.5 percent of 10th graders, and 34.8 percent of 12th graders had abused marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Source: Monitoring the Future (University of Michigan Web Site).

How much marijuana is consumed every year?

United States

The total quantity of marijuana used by the US population has seen massive growth from 2000 to 2010, nearly doubling within that period.

How much marijuana is eradicated in each country?


Many nations engage in organized efforts to eradicate marijuana crops. The number of plants destroyed can range from a hundred thousand in New Zealand, to several million in the US.

Amount of marijuana seized

Cannabis herb

Cannabis oil

Cannabis plant

Cannabis resin

Drug seizures are a key part of government efforts to fight the illicit drug trade. Click on the map above to see the quantities of different types of cannabis seized around the world from 2004 to 2009.

United States DEA domestic seizures


Source: DEA (STRIDE)

The amount of marijuana seized within the United States is difficult to fathom. In 2010, over 725,000 kilograms of marijuana were seized - more than three times the average weight of a blue whale.

Marijuana Abuse Quiz question 6

Teen Marijuana Abuse
Because marijuana affects brain systems that are still maturing through young adulthood, its use by teens may have a negative effect on their development. Contrary to popular belief, it can be addictive.

How many youth use marijuana?

United States

The number of youth using marijuana in the US may surprise you. Hundreds of thousands of children aged 12 or 13, and millions aged 16 or 17, report having used marijuana at least once.

The social effects of smoking marijuana can be quite detrimental to adolescents. They are at higher risk of pregnancy, dropping out of school, delinquency, legal problems and underachievement, both educationally and occupationally.

Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.