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Marijuana is a dried mixture of stems, leaves, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant. Slang terms for marijuana include pot, weed, reefer, joint, and grass. It is usually smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe called a bong. Like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana may cause:
- Trouble breathing
- Lung diseases
One study showed that marijuana smoking doubled or tripled the risk of developing cancers of the head or neck. Marijuana also may cause lung cancer. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more cancer-causing compounds than does tobacco smoke.
Using marijuana can lead to other serious problems that affect health, safety, relationships, and welfare, including:
- Problems with memory and learning
- Distorted perception
- Trouble with thinking and problem solving
- Loss of coordination
- Anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia (being excessively suspicious and/or distrustful of others)
- Increased risk of a heart attack
- Reduced ability of the immune system to fight disease
Because marijuana makes it harder to learn and remember things, students who are heavy marijuana smokers tend to do worse in school. They get lower grades and are less likely to graduate from high school than are students who do not smoke marijuana.
For some people, marijuana can be addictive. Addiction means that you keep using a drug, even though it causes problems in your life. Using the drug also may take the place of things that you normally do for fun. If you stop using the drug, you crave it and experience withdrawal symptoms, such as sleeplessness and irritability.
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Marijuana - This site includes information on marijuana use and its effect on the brain, lungs, heart rate, blood pressure, and mental health. It also provides statistics on marijuana use among 8th and 10th graders.
Marijuana Abuse - This National Institute on Drug Abuse Report addresses the different risks of marijuana use, such as addiction, use during pregnancy, effects on the brain, and how it affects quality of life.
Marijuana Myths & Facts: The Truth Behind 10 Popular Misperceptions - This report looks at 10 popular misperceptions about marijuana and, using the latest research findings and statistical information, explains why they are wrong.
Marijuana's Adverse Effects (Copyright © American Association of Family Physicians) - This publication provides information on marijuana and the health risks involved with its use. It also discusses side effects, risk of dependence, and physical effects.
Marijuana: Facts for Teens - This booklet provides teens with answers to frequently asked questions about marijuana, including what it is, who uses it, and how it affects a person physically and mentally after short and long-term use.
Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know - This online publication provides tips for parents to help them address marijuana use with their children. It also provides information on signs of use and long-term effects.
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator - This website will help you locate a substance abuse treatment facility in your area.
Tips for Teens: The Truth About Marijuana - This brochure discusses marijuana use, its long-term and short-term effects, the physical and mental health risks, and the legal implications.
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Content last updated May 19, 2010.
Resources last updated May 19, 2010.
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