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The Effects of Marijuana Use

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. It is normally smoked as a joint or in a pipe and can also be smoked as a blunt. Marijuana can be mixed with food, brewed as tea or used in the form of hash oil. There is no simple answer to what the marijuana high is like, as this varies for each individual.

This dry mix of green and brown mixed flowers, seeds, stems and leaves comes from the hemp plant called Cannabis sativa. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active chemical in the plant.

Marijuana may be harmful. There is a link between long-term marijuana use and increased rates of schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. Addiction and withdrawal can be common with marijuana use. Marijuana also increases a person’s heart rate for up to three hours after use. Because people who smoke marijuana inhale deeply and hold their breath, marijuana exposes the lungs to more carcinogens that may lead to cancer.

Marijuana Effects Quiz question 1

Although it is illegal in most states, marijuana may be used in medical programs in some states. This is recognized as an exception by the U.S. government, and patients may have access to the drug for medical purposes only. This program is used to help those with serious conditions untreated by other medications.

For more information about medical marijuana, call our hotline at 1-800-943-0566. We have information about marijuana rehab centers, treatment centers, detox centers and more.

Marijuana Effects Quiz question 2

Short-Term Effects of Marijuana

The short-term effects of marijuana occur because THC rapidly moves from the lungs into the blood. This chemical acts on cannabinoid receptors that lead to a high for users. These receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence concentration, thinking, sensory and time perception, pleasure, memory and coordination. A short-term effect of marijuana normally stops shortly after use.

Users may experience temporary memory loss, difficult coordination issues, pleasure, problems understanding time or a loss of time and other side effects. Dependency can form after marijuana use, even when it is used as a short-term drug.

Marijuana Effects Quiz question 3

Side Effects

When a person is high on marijuana, the side effects of marijuana include:

  • Distorted perceptions
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulties thinking or problem solving
  • Addiction
  • Dependency
  • Tolerance
  • Pleasure

If you or a loved one would like more information about marijuana use and side effects, call our 24-hour hotline at 1-800-943-0566. Our staff can guide you get help for marijuana use you need to stay clean and live a drug-free lifestyle.

Marijuana Effects Quiz question 4

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana

The long-term effects of marijuana can lead to an adverse effect on memory and learning. This can last for a few days after using the drug or can last for weeks. Studies on the effects of long-term marijuana abuse have been inconsistent, but this is because many people who use marijuana may also be taking other drugs, be having residual effects or may be suffering withdrawal symptoms. The long-term effect of marijuana can be unpredictable.

Long-term use can lead to addiction in some people. This means that the drug user will have the compulsion to take the drug, despite the fact that it can cause harm. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), approximately nine percent of users become addicted to this drug. Daily users can expect this percent to rise to approximately 25 to 50 percent.

Marijuana Effects Quiz question 5

Marijuana Dependency or Marijuana Dependence

Marijuana dependency is possible within a few uses of this drug. Dependency means that a person will need to take the drug to feel that he or she is functioning correctly. Long-term use can lead to addiction. Up to 50 percent of users who take this drug daily are addicted, according to NIDA.

Marijuana may be used in some states of the U.S. for medical treatment. This is only a treatment available by prescription and is not regularly given without serious consideration of the patient’s health.

Marijuana Withdrawal Treatment

Marijuana abuse can lead to addiction. Addiction can be treated, and some patients may recognize withdrawal symptoms that can occur when not participating in a withdrawal program. Some withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings for the drug

The symptoms will begin within a day of abstinence. These symptoms then peak after two to three days and will subside within two weeks.

Marijuana Effects Quiz question 6

Marijuana addiction can be treated by a rehabilitation center. There are currently no medications that can aid withdrawal, so patients will go through a medical detoxification program that provides assistance in managing the symptoms of withdrawal. Behavioral interventions, which may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, are used to help during rehabilitation therapy. For more information on how marijuana addiction is treated, contact our 24-hour hotline at 1-800-943-0566.


Physical and mental effects of marijuana

  • Dry mouth
  • Relaxation
  • Talkativeness
  • Hallucination
  • Panic attacks

Lasting health effects of marijuana

  • Risk of psychotic disorders
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Immune suppression
  • Lung cancer

Effects of marijuana withdrawal

  • Decreased appetite (source)
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Headache

Drug effects

Yearly deaths linked to marijuana use

United States

Deaths involving cannabis (CDC WONDER query, ICD-10 code T40.7, “Poisoning by, adverse effect of and underdosing of cannabis (derivatives)”)

Potential for marijuana addiction

  • 9% of marijuana users will become addicted – 17% among those who start young, and 25-50% of those who use it daily (source)

Marijuana-related emergency room visits

United States

Marijuana-related emergency room visits by people seeking detox services

United States

Treatment facility admissions for marijuana

United States, admissions for treatment, age 12+

Emergency room visits due to suicide attempts involving marijuana

United States

Typical legal penalties involving marijuana

  • Marijuana is classified by the DEA as a Schedule I drug. (source)
  • Trafficking in less than 50 kg of marijuana, or less than 50 plants, can carry a federal sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment. (source) State penalties for possession of Schedule II drugs can include prison sentences of up to 15 years. (source) (source 2)
  • For federal crimes involving marijuana, the average prison sentence is 3 years. (source)
  • The effects of marijuana can be a factor in impaired driving, leading to DUI charges. (source)

Mugshots of marijuana-related arrests

Videos on marijuana

Quotes from marijuana addicts

“Then one of those nights hit when I ran out of pot. I was climbing the walls. I went crazy. I called everyone I knew to score even a roach. I remember one night driving 39 miles in a bad storm to get a half a joint from a complete stranger just to get through the night. I remember calling my dealer every hour on the hour to see if it had come in yet.” (source)

“After seven years of using and drinking I found myself at the end of the road with addiction. I was no longer using to feel euphoria, I was just using to feel some semblance of normality. Then I started having negative feelings about myself and my own abilities. I hated the paranoia. I hated looking over my shoulder all the time. I really hated not trusting my friends.” (source)

Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-800-943-0566.

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  • Is Marijuana Safe?
  • Is Marijuana Illegal?
  • What Are the Effects of Marijuana Abuse?
  • Are the Side Effects of Marijuana Always Pleasant?
  • Which of the following is a long-term effect of marijuana use?
  • Is Marijuana Withdrawal Comfortable?
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