Marijuana: Just the Facts

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Image by NIDA

According to the Monitoring the Future survey of more than 44,000 teens, many of today’s teens are thinking twice about using marijuana.

In 2018, marijuana use declined among 8th graders and was the same for 10th and 12th graders compared to 2013, even though laws on marijuana use have changed in several states during those 5 years.

(A reminder: Using marijuana is still illegal for teens in all 50 states.)

Public health experts want to see more encouraging trends like these, because using marijuana brings risks, whether it’s smoked, vaped, or put in food. Let’s look at some of those risks.

Marijuana affects the developing teen brain.

Your brain continues to develop until you’re about 25 years old. Using marijuana regularly before then can have negative and long-lasting effects on a person’s cognitive development (in other words, on how well a person can think).

Marijuana use is linked to problems in school.

Marijuana dulls attention, memory, and learning skills—effects that can last for days and sometimes weeks, depending on how often it’s used. Students who use marijuana are more likely to quit high school or not get a college degree, compared with teens who don’t use marijuana.

Marijuana can be addictive.

For some people, repeated marijuana use can lead to a marijuana use disorder or addiction. Addiction means that a person has trouble controlling drug use even if it’s causing bad things to happen in school, with friends, or at home.

People who begin using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop a problem with drugs. Marijuana use can lead to other problems, too.

It’s more important than ever that teens get the message that marijuana use can affect their developing brains.

Learn more: What’s the connection between marijuana and vaping?

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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