Marijuana and Youth

| October 27, 2015

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When marijuana is smoked, its effects begin almost immediately and can last from 1 to 3 hours. Decision making, concentration, and memory can suffer for days after use, especially in regular users.[1]

If marijuana is consumed in foods or beverages, the effects of THC appear later—usually in 30 minutes to 1 hour—but can last over 4 hours.

Long-term, regular use of marijuana—starting in the teen years—may impair brain development and lower IQ, meaning the brain may not reach its full potential. [2],[3]

Marijuana and Alcohol

Like alcohol, marijuana can lower your inhibitions. This means that people who use marijuana are more likely to do risky things while under the influence such as driving or having unprotected sex.

The biggest impact of mixing marijuana and alcohol is the significant increase of impairment in the user’s judgment.

The level of intoxication and secondary effects experienced can be unpredictable. Some people may be more prone to episodes of lightheadedness and fatigue.

Also, because marijuana is used to treat nausea and vomiting in medical situations, it may be easier to drink alcohol until dangerously high blood alcohol levels are reached, as the normal body defense of vomiting when drunk may be muted by the marijuana.

Is marijuana addictive?

Yes, marijuana can be addictive. A user may feel the urge to smoke marijuana again and again to
re-create the “high.”

Repeated use could lead to addiction—which means the person has trouble controlling their drug use and often cannot stop even though they want to.

It is estimated that about 1 in 6 people who start using as a teen, and 25% to 50% percent of those who use it every day, become addicted to marijuana.

What causes a person to become addicted to marijuana depends on many factors—including their family history (genetics), the age they start using, whether they also use other drugs, their family and friend relationships, and whether they take part in positive activities like school or sports.[4]

People who use marijuana may also feel withdrawal when they stop using the drug. Withdrawal
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 also crave the drug to relieve these symptoms. [4]

How common is marijuana use by youth?

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Most teens in Lane County choose not to use marijuana.

In 2014, 75.4% of high school seniors had not used marijuana in the last 30 days.

In 2014, over 60% of high school seniors in Lane County had not tried marijuana. Most teens agree (85%) that their parents would disapprove of their using marijuana. [4]

2014 Lane County Student Wellness Survey



Protect what’s next:

NIDA for Teens:

Red Ribbon:

Above the Influence:



[1] Crean RD, Crane NA, Mason BJ. An evidence based review of acute and long-term effects of cannabis use on executive cognitive functions. Journal of Addiction Medicine 2011;5:1-8.

[2]. Zalesky A, Solowij N, Yücel M, et al. Effect of long-term cannabis use on axonal fibre connectivity. Brain 2012;135:2245-55.

[3] Meier MH, Caspi A, Ambler A, et al. Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A 2012;109:E2657-64.

[4] 4 Drug Facts for Marijuana. (December 10, 2015). Retrieved from https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

Category: Marijuana, Prevention Topics

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