Is marijuana addictive?

Yes, marijuana can be addictive---meaning they continue to use it despite negative consequences.

Approximately 10 percent of people who use marijuana may develop what is called a marijuana use disorder—problems with their health, school, friendships, family or other conflicts in their life. A serious substance use disorder is commonly called an addiction. The person can’t stop using marijuana even though it gets in the way of daily life.5 People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are 4–7 times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder.6

What causes one person to become addicted to marijuana while another does not depends on many factors—including their family history (genetics), the age they start using, if they also use other drugs, their family and friend relationships, and if they take part in positive activities like school, after school clubs or or sports. More research needs to be done to determine if people who use marijuana for medical reasons are at the same risk for addiction as those who use it just to get high.

Watch the Swiss Cheese Model of Drug Addiction and learn why some people who use drugs become addicted and others do not.

People who use marijuana may feel a mild withdrawal when they stop using the drug, but might not recognize their symptoms as drug withdrawal. These symptoms may include:

  • irritability
  • sleeplessness
  • lack of appetite, which can lead to weight loss
  • anxiety
  • drug cravings

These effects can last for several days to a few weeks after drug use is stopped. Relapse (returning to the drug after you’ve quit) is common during this period because people may crave the drug to relieve these symptoms.

5 Hasin DS, Saha TD, Kerridge BT, et al. Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(12):1235-1242. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1858.

6 Winters KC, Lee C-YS. Likelihood of developing an alcohol and cannabis use disorder during youth: association with recent use and age. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2008;92(1-3):239-247. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2007.08.005.