Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S., with approximately 19.8 million past month users in 2013 (7.5% of Americans age 12 or older).

  • In 2013, annual prevalence of 36% among college students, with daily marijuana use prevalence of 5.1%.  (Compared to non college segment—37% annual prevalence and 10% daily prevalence).
  • Marijuana Use – USA Students
    • 15.7% Report Use, Past 30 Days*
    • Alcohol/Drug Survey, Office of Institutional Effectiveness, 2015
  • Marijuana considered gateway drug—serving as an introduction to the drug scene.

Why is marijuana use increasing?

  • Increase in availability of marijuana due to legalization in other states
  • As social norms around the acceptability of marijuana change, use and abuse have gone up
    • NIH released a report in October of 2015 that showed from 2001/2002 to 2012/2013 past year marijuana use among adults increased from 4.1% to 9.5% nationally
    • The increase in marijuana use disorder during this same time frame was almost as large
  • Teens often hear about marijuana as being a natural product.
  • Least expensive of all drugs, next to alcohol.

Short term effects

  • Reduced ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination such as driving
  • Altered motivation and cognition making acquisition of new information difficult
  • Paranoia
  • Intense anxiety or panic attacks
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Difficulty listening and speaking
  • Altered sense of time

Long term effects

  • Impairments of cognitive function and neuropsychological performance (Khalsa et al., 2002)
  • Increased frequency of acute bronchitis, increased incidence of pneumonia in immunocompromised patients, coughs and wheezing, may predispose to pulmonary infections (Khalsa et al., 2002)
  • Reproductive system (inhibits the secretion of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland, may be acting directly on the testes and ovaries, impaired fetal growth and development)
  • Psychosis and Schizophrenia-cannabis can act as a “trigger” for schizophrenia for those predisposed to the condition
  • “Longitudinal investigations show a consistent association between adolescent cannabis use and psychosis” (Volkow et al., 2016, p. 294)
  • “Adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse side effects of cannabis use” (Volkow et. al, 2016)

Signs of psychological dependence

  • Large amounts are being consumed over a longer period than intended.
  • There is a persistent desire to use cannabis.
  •  Efforts to reduce use are unsuccessful.
  • Excessive time is spent obtaining, recovering from, under the influence of and thinking about the drug.
  • Intoxication occurs, despite work or social obligations.
  • Use occurs prior to or during hazardous situations, such as driving or operating machinery.
  •  Important and/or enjoyable activities are reduced or avoided due to use.
  •  Continued use despite an obvious pattern of abuse.
  •  Tolerance to the intoxicant effects of cannabis (i.e. using more to achieve the same, or lesser, effect).
  •  Symptoms of withdrawal upon abstaining (see above).
  •  Use to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  •  Hiding the extent of use from friends and family.
  •  Regular use to avoid stress (in particular if a source of stress is cannabis related).

Cannabis amotivational syndrome

  • Defined as apathy, diminished ability to focus, follow a schedule, or master new material
  • Controversial concept, as too few studies to determine and not all users develop this syndrome
  • Academic issues that may indicate that a person is struggling with cannabis amotivational syndrome: 
    • Procrastination
    • Lack of follow through
    • Not turning in assignments in time
    • Dropping grades
    • Missing class etc.

University sanctions for marijuana possession (first offense)

  • Expulsion from campus housing
  • Residence halls and Greek houses off limits for one year
  • 15 Hours of community service
  • $100  fine
  • Parental notification (if <21)
  • Completion of educational modules