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Drugs & Health Blog

"Marijuana: Breaking Down the Buzz" Helps Clear Up the Confusion

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The NIDA Blog Team

Do you know how long it took for tobacco smoking rates to significantly drop after researchers first linked smoking cigarettes to cancer? 40 years.

In the 1920s, when the link to cancer was discovered, smoking was normal---in fact, ads for cigarettes even featured doctors saying it relieved stress! For years, people smoked in their homes and offices, in restaurants and stores, on planes and on trains. Wherever they went…they smoked.

Changing habits

In 1957, the nation’s top doctor—the U.S. Surgeon General—warned that cigarette smoking could cause lung cancer. Other government doctors began to speak out. Still, people continued to smoke.

Over time, laws to protect the public’s health limiting where people could smoke, increases in the cost of cigarettes, and the growing body of evidence that smoking was directly linked to lung cancer helped lead turn the tide. Now, it’s surprising to find people smoking indoors; it’s the norm for people to have to go outside.

Weed and the teen brain

Today, it's marijuana that people, especially younger people, are beginning to view as "okay" or "less dangerous" or "normal." It reminds us of tobacco nearly 100 years ago—and not in a good way.

A big difference, though, is for teens—we already know that for them, using marijuana comes with some serious risks. Evidence is strong that smoking marijuana on a regular basis can harm the developing teen brain. And long-term, regular use of marijuana starting in the teen years can impair brain development and lower IQ. In other words, the brain may not reach its full potential. 

Perception vs. reality

As more and more states legalize marijuana for adults, it will likely be easier to get (even for teens), and there’s a chance that the number of people who use it will increase. For teens, this could have real and lasting effects. The question is, how long will it take before perception catches up to reality? 

Scholastic shares the facts surrounding the great marijuana debate with its recent article, "Marijuana: Breaking Down the Buzz."

Tell us in comments, is marijuana the next tobacco? Do these facts change your perception?

For additional facts about the brain and drugs, visit

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


marajuana is already the next tobacco because not only teens, but adults don't see anything wrong with using it.
wrong, marijuana isn't the next tobacco because their are very little to no known long-term side affects
thank you marijuana isn't the next tobacco its nothing like it
Except for the 1-in-5 that become dependent and need formal rehabilitation to get off of pot... The fact is that there are no long-term studies that can accurately show that there are NO side effects. I personally avoided getting hooked in the 70's (in high school). Be really careful about ANYONE that touts that there are "NO" side effects. I know a lot of drug pushers use that little concept to get more users and make more money. Even with the high cost of cigarettes, even with the known cancer risk (and don't forget that it took over 40 years to identify the cancer risk posed by cigarettes in the first place). In reality we simply don't know what the long term health risks really are - and we may not find out the truth until another 20 years has gone by and many other studiues have been completed.
wrong. Marijuana is already proven ZERO DEATHS, in hundreds of years of use. It is THE CURE FOR CANCER made by God. LOOK AT U-TUBE and see! Pot is STOPPING SEIZURES in 2 year olds where all medicines failed. PARENTS HAVE TO MOVE to states where they can access marijuana. Tobacco KILLS 50 % OF LONG TERM USERS. SEE U-TUBE, SAVING LIVES FROM GOD'S MEDICINE WHERE traditional medicine FAILED IN CANCER. CIGARETTE MFGRS SHOULD BE IN PRISON. The fed government waste fortunes of OUE tax dollars prosecuting nonviolent people, DESTROYING LITTLE KIDS, imprisoning DADDIES FOR DECADES. YOU PAID FOR THESE INSANE PROSECUTIONS IN THE USA. . ISRAEL uses pot medicinally openly. .IS THE U.S. PHARMACOLOGICAL INDUSTRY BEHIND THIS INSANITY? Does God the manufacturer belong in jail.?
I'm afraid Judee K that much of your information is inaccurate or even worse incorrect. In fact, you sound a bit like the tobacco industry back in the day when they were still trying to say cigarettes were safe and did not cause cancer. The truth is we still don't know a lot about marijuana use. This is distinctly different from "knowing" that it is safe.
for one marijuana is a natural plant there are reasons of using it now I know that some people use it just to get high but their are medical uses for it if new about it marijuana is nothing like tobbaco
Marijuana isnt bad in some ways as people SAY it is! It might have more tar in your lungs but also it doesnt make you stupid! Everybody says 'people that smoke Marijuana are probably dumb' which thats were there wrong. Some people are smarter tan ever and still smoke it on a regulaur bases. Point blank.
obviously you aren't your spelling is awful, smoke much?
Your grammar is awful, yet I'm not accusing you of being an avid smoker. That point would be moot anyways, considering that people can smoke weed frequently and still have high intellectual capabilities.
Do you smoke marijuana ? You clearly can't spell properly
I wish people would proofread before they post. Spell-check doesn't always catch things. "Were" should be "where," "thats" should be "that's," there" meaning they are, should be "they're." There are a couple more mistakes, but I'll leave it at that and say so much for saying people that smoke it aren't dumb. I apologize if you're not a smoker.
Many people say that Marijuana is okay and is found not as a drug but an herb. They think it is okay to smoke it and that it will not harm you. More and more students are smoking weed daily. In 2013, 7% of Eighth graders, 18 percent of 10th graders, and 22.7 percent of 12th graders used marijuana in the past month. Students using marijuana daily is up to 6.5 percent of 12th graders. Although many do not think it harms you it internally messes with your sensory perception not only for a short period of time but in turn can have long lasting effects. Marijuana is now legal in many states for people over the age of 21. However, many students are using this drug in schools and out. This is causing many issues around not only the states it is found legal, but around the world.
Marijuana is not the next tobacco it is weed and not nasty asss brown tobacco that has fiber glass and rat poison and ebalminh fluid and alll other type of chemicals and yet ppl still drink pop pill smoke cigs pr strait vapor nicotine pluss drink coffee wich has sugar and contains caffeine and caffeine causes more problems then weeed should juat be legal already and people like ypu who comes up woth atuff like this are probly the one who wants a coffee every morning and probly do aomthing un healty everyday im just speeking my mind
Why can't you just spell correctly? Everyone can see this. Everyone. You make us look bad when you spell like a 6th grader.
I am in full support of Mr. Anonymous here. I would like to propose two options either take the time to write a well composed post or please just keep your opinions unspoken because currently, a large portion of these posts are more detrimental to our cause rather than helpful.
I personal think marijuana is a great remedy to ailments. Marijuana has been proven to kill off unhealthy brain cells and promote growth in cells that make you smarter. Marijuana is less addictive than over the counter pills and store bought. Look up the real reason why it is illegal its because of the paper companies.
Please cite your sources for this information.
Your absolutely right about that
Marijuana can be eaten. It is healthier than smoking it. Burning any kinds of substances and inhaling the smoke is generally bad.
They have both been around a hundred years its done nothing to no one
Jeez, are you all from Egypt? Because there's denial up in here.
who ever is trying to persuade people to quiet marijuana, just stop bro, there never gonna listen, people just cant handle the truth, im not saying this to hate or dis you , but just let the world decide what makes them happy, eventually they will wake up one day and realize the problems they cause themselves an for there love ones and family,and if you care to warn these people, go to the lord and pray for them and there sins and yourself
I'm 71 years old I've smoked marijuana it's messed up my life I had a wonderful careers and I lost them I lost my wife I totally messed up my life I have a brain but it's very fuzzy Keep your mind clear don't smoke marijuana
I am 40 years old, I smoked Marijuana for 14 years, through the time I smoked I really thought it was doing me good. When working I could form a focus and continue for unreal amounts of time. I felt it enhanced my thinking ability as well. It really seamed to be the miracle drug. Much to my surprise it caused many problems. Worst effect was memory not only short term, the whole last 14 years were a jumbled mess in my mind, I could not put a relevant order to any of it., migraine Headaches, panic attacks, insomnia, Uncontrolled chronic coughing, trouble breathing testicular atrophy. These are some of the things you can look forward to in a life of pot smoking. Thankfully after quitting 6 years most of these symptoms went away. Memory was never fully restored but still pretty good. There is a constant fuzziness in my thinking makes it difficult to concentrate. Crazy as it sounds after the 6 years I was not fully convinced marijuana was the culprit since during the 14 years I also had a drinking and cigarette addiction. So I began smoking marijuana again. It took about 6 months before these problems started to reappear first memory, headaches, panic attacks pretty much same order however any one problem can override the other at any given time.This time I quit for good I was only smoking marijuana. Maybe under a serious medical condition these side effects are not so bad, but for me I had none before so it only created problems.
Interesting concepts spoken above, to say the least. Several issues, actually ... starting with the FACT that the federal government still lists marijuana / hemp as an illegal drug. The states can make using it "legal" but if the federal government ever begins enforcing the law there's bound to be even more issues. If you apply for a job in a major corporation that has a zero tolerance policy for any drugs, you simply will not be hired if the test result is positive - even if recreational/medicinal use is legal where you live. Most companies follow federal laws. Second point ... students that begin regular use DO have long-term issues with memory and focus (like Stephen C. above can relate to). Finally, while "legal" for medicinal or recreational use which (varies from state-to-state), non-adults get ahold of marijuana and start using earlier in life (many teens have taken tobacco from their parents in the past and present). One of the biggest problems in the schools in Colorado now is that kids (middle & high school age) are getting TCH and/or Hash Oil and ingesting it using the new 'vapor' cigarettes. This was documented last spring and hit many news outlets. Teachers were observing the behavior and it was reported ... they were watching more closely in the Arvada school district in the Denver area. There is a LOT less smell with the vapor cigarettes than you get burning marijuana, and it is also a LOT cheaper to buy the oil, and initially the oil actually had fewer restrictions than the actual 'weed' being purchased legally in stores. I think it is easier and more sensible to keep illegal drugs illegal. Our teens do not need additional pressures and the negative consequences of possible future addictions to deal with. Say what you will, the facts show that 20-30% of teens that use regularly do end up dependent and/or moving on to stronger drugs. While it is accurate to say that MOST do not develop a lifelong dependency, if you have a 1-in-5 chance of getting hooked is that chance really worth it?
I have heard many people speak of Marijuana, as if it is a cure for illnesses. Someone even posted earlier that Marijuana cures cancer. I smoked marijuana for years when I was younger. During the years that I did smoke Marijuana, I found that I felt weak and fatigued on a regular basis. I was quick to catch any cold or flu that was going around, and If I didn't smoke for a day or so, I felt depressed, irritable and would experience anxiety. I was very unproductive, and I felt as if I couldn't care less about anything or anyone. I finally landed a job that required regular urinalysis. This caused me to quit smoking, or lose a good paying job. At first I hated life without Marijuana, but I blamed it on the long hours I was working. After a couple of months, life started becoming much more fulfilling. I had better relationships with others, rarely became sick, felt extremely energetic and no longer suffered from depression or anxiety. I still, many years later, wish I could have back, the years that I wasted. Although I don't smoke now. I have many friends that do. Every one of them take medication for anxiety, depression and Headaches. Is Marijuana a cure for cancer? No. I have watched eleven people that were close to me die from cancer. Most of them smoked Marijuana everyday. Marijuana may not of been the cause of their cancer, but it certainly didn't cure them of it.