What are the other risks associated with marijuana use?

Image
What is drugged driving?
Drugged Driving Infographic at NIDA
  • Reduced school performance. Students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who do not use. The effects of marijuana on attention, memory, and learning can last for days or weeks.
  • Reduced life satisfaction. Research suggests that people who use marijuana regularly for a long time are less satisfied with their lives and have more problems with friends and family compared to people who do not use marijuana.
  • Impaired driving. Marijuana affects a number of skills required for safe driving—alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time—so it’s not safe to drive high or to ride with someone using marijuana. Marijuana makes it hard to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road. High school seniors who smoke marijuana are 2 times more likely to receive a traffic ticket and 65% more likely to get into an accident than other teens.3 In 2017, 10.3% of 12th graders reported driving after using marijuana in the past two weeks.4 And combining marijuana with drinking even a small amount of alcohol greatly increases driving danger, more than either drug alone. Learn more about what happens when you mix marijuana and driving.
  • Use of other drugs. Most young people who use marijuana do not go on to use other drugs. However, those who use are more likely to use other illegal drugs. It isn’t clear why some people go on to try other drugs, but researchers have a few theories. The human brain continues to develop into the early 20s. Exposure to addictive substances, including marijuana, may cause changes to the developing brain that make other drugs more appealing. In addition, someone who uses marijuana is more likely to be in contact with people who use and sell other drugs, increasing the risk for being encouraged or tempted to try them.
  • Severe nausea and vomiting. Studies have shown that in rare cases, regular, long-term marijuana use can lead some people to have cycles of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, sometimes requiring visits to the emergency room. 

For more information on the effects of marijuana, see NIDA’s Marijuana Research Report.

3 U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts. Drug Involvement of Fatally Injured Drivers. Washington, DC, November 2010. Available at: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811415.pdf.

4 Miech RA, Schulenberg JE, Johnston LD, et al. National adolescent drug trends in 2017: Findings released [Press release]. Ann Arbor, MI. December 2017. Available at: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/.