The Facts About Recreational Marijuana
Knowing about marijuana can help you
tell if your child or someone else is using it, and help them get treatment.
Marijuana is the most commonly used
mind-altering drug in the U.S., after alcohol. It's illegal in some states, but others
states have legalized it for medical and recreational use. The drug comes from the
plant. The chemicals in marijuana are found in the leaves and flowering shoots. THC
most well-known of these chemicals. There are also manmade chemicals that act like
they are much stronger. They are synthetic marijuana. They are sold under names such
Kronic, or Spice.
Marijuana can be used in several
forms. It's often smoked as a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems,
and leave. It can be smoked as a cigarette (joint), in a pipe or bong, or as a blunt.
blunt is a cigar casing that has been filled with marijuana. It might also be mixed
or brewed as a tea. A more concentrated form called hashish is made from the tops
plants. It has the highest concentration of THC. It's often pressed into small, solid
pieces that look like a small piece of chocolate. These are often put inside a regular
cigarette and smoked.
Some studies suggest that some types
of marijuana are now stronger than in the past.
Users can become dependent on or
addicted to marijuana, just as someone can with alcohol and tobacco. A person is dependent
on marijuana when they have withdrawal symptoms. Someone is addicted to the drug when
drug use interferes with many aspects of life but they still can't stop using it.
may affect their finances, school work, and social life.
Symptoms of use
These are some effects of marijuana
Feeling of joy,
Increased sense of sight,
hearing, and taste
Loss of coordination. This
makes it hard and difficult, even dangerous to do things such as drive a car.
False sense of time
Trouble thinking and
problem-solving that can also affect driving
Can't tell the difference
between oneself and others
Anxiety or panic reactions or
being overly suspicious and distrustful can be seen with higher concentrations.
This doesn't always happen. In fact, many people take marijuana to treat
Signs of marijuana use include:
Having trouble walking
Being silly and giggly for no
Having red, bloodshot
Having a hard time
remembering things that just happened
When the early effects fade after a
few hours, the user can get very sleepy.
Some long-term marijuana users who smoke the drug daily may have
repeated and uncontrolled vomiting (cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome). They often
better when they take a hot shower. But many people seek medical care.
What to look for
If you're worried that your child
may be using marijuana, know what signs to look for. These include the following
- Withdrawal or separation from others
- Excessive tiredness
- Not careful about personal hygiene or grooming
- Relationships with family members and friends get worse
Other things that may be linked to
drug use include changes in school performance, skipping or missing school, lost
interest in sports or other favorite activities, and changes in eating or sleeping
Parents should also be aware of
signs of drugs and drug items. These include:
- Pipes and rolling papers
- Strange smell on clothes and in the bedroom
- Using incense and other deodorizers
- Using eye drops
- Frequent red eyes
- Unexplained changes in appetite
- Eating more food
Long-term studies of high school
students show few young people use other drugs without first trying marijuana. So
chance that a child will try cocaine is much higher if they have tried marijuana.
Marijuana can be harmful in several
ways. Some of these are felt right away. Others damage a person's health over time.
Marijuana affects short-term memory and the ability to handle difficult tasks. When
using stronger types of marijuana, even simple tasks can be difficult.
The drug affects a person's ability
to understand and also their reaction time. So users get in car crashes more often
people who don't use marijuana. They also may have more risky sexual behavior. There
a strong link between drug use, unsafe sex, and the spread of sexually transmitted
Students who use marijuana may find
it hard to study and learn because it hurts the ability to focus and pay attention.
young athletes may perform poorly. THC affects timing, movements, and coordination.
Synthetic marijuana products can
have even more harmful effects. Hallucinations, kidney damage, seizures, and even
have been reported with these products.
Marijuana smoke contains some of
the same compounds that cause cancer as tobacco. But they are sometimes in higher
Treatments for marijuana dependence
are similar to therapies for other drug-abuse problems. These include detoxification,
behavioral therapies, and regular attendance at support-group meetings such as those
sponsored by Narcotics Anonymous.
There have been recent news stories
and state laws about the possible medical benefits of marijuana and its casual or
recreational use. But these don't apply to children and teens. Teens often refer to
these stories and laws to defend their use of marijuana.
There's no quick and easy way to
prevent teen drug use. But you can influence your children by setting clear rules
not using drugs. Talk with your children about the dangers of using marijuana and
drugs. Act as role models, and stay very involved in your children's lives.