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The Dangers of Marijuana

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Share the Facts

Here are some facts to share with your kids about marijuana:

  • Possessing marijuana is a criminal offense. A person arrested for possession of marijuana can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount involved and may receive a prison sentence.

  • The marijuana available today is stronger than the marijuana available in the 1960s. It also may be laced with other drugs. Because it's impossible to judge its potency just by looking at it, its effects are hard for users to regulate.

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main, active ingredient in marijuana, temporarily alters brain functioning that affects sensory perception, reflexes, and coordination. Because it changes the way people see, hear, and feel, it can impair judgement. Driving under the influence of marijuana is extremely dangerous. The fact that many teens smoke marijuana while they are drinking alcohol makes driving even more lethal.

  • Though many people believe it isn't, marijuana is physically addicting. Each year, 100,000 people in the United States alone are treated for marijuana dependence. Heavy marijuana smokers who quit smoking may experience the same symptoms of withdrawal as users of nicotine or other drugs.

  • Studies suggest that marijuana may cause permanent short- and long-term memory loss.

  • Smoking marijuana can release inhibitions, causing people to engage in risky social and sexual behavior. In recent years, the consequences of such behavior has become deadly; since contracting AIDS is a possible consequence of unsafe sexual practices.

  • As with any excessive drug use, smoking marijuana can interfere with school performance, extra-curricular activities, and peer relations. Heavy smokers often lose their sense of motivation and find it difficult to concentrate. Particularly potent marijuana can even induce paranoia.

  • Regular use of marijuana may play a role in causing cancer (particularly lung cancer) and problems with the immune or reproductive systems. Studies also show that someone who smokes five joints a day may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.

  • For additional information, contact The National Institute on Drug Abuse at 1-888-NIH-NIDA or www.nida.nih.gov.


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