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Drugs & Health Blog

Marijuana: Just the Facts

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The NIDA Blog Team

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?

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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.

Comments

can you include how many people use it and how many have died?

Thank you for the great suggestion, Abigail. We will consider this recommendation to update the post with the additional information you suggested. You can find more information about how many teens use marijuana here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana, under the section, “How many teens use marijuana?”.

Although this page is "Just Facts," what possible explanation is there for the number of 8th grade users decreasing while the 10th and 12th grade user numbers stayed roughly the same? Does it have something to do with a change in education, or is there another explanation?

Hi Alex. Great questions! Scientists are asking the same questions and searching for the answers. Different educational levels could be one of the answers, or it could be something else. When we find out more, we’ll be sure to update you on our blog. In the meantime, check out this stats and trends page to uncover more information about teens and drug use: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/teachers/stats-and-trends-teen-drug-use.

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