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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:
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:
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.
Content last updated May 19, 2010.
Resources last updated May 19, 2010.