Marijuana Abuse: Effects, Signs, & Quitting

Marijuana abuse can have detrimental effects on a person’s health and overall well-being. Read on to learn more about marijuana, its potential for misuse and addiction, and how to seek treatment if you or a loved one has lost control of their marijuana use.
About Marijuana

What Is Marijuana (Cannabis)?

The term marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. Marijuana contains chemicals that can have mind-altering effects, including its main psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).1

Cannabis is the most widely available and used illicit drug in the world, with an estimated 4% of the global population and 11% of American adults having used it at least once in their lives.2 Marijuana is also the most commonly used addictive substance after alcohol and tobacco.3

Different street names for marijuana include:4

  • Aunt Mary.
  • Blunts.
  • Chronic.
  • Dope.
  • Gangster.
  • Ganja.
  • Grass.
  • Hash.
  • Herb.
  • Joint.
  • Mary Jane.
  • Pot.
  • Reefer.
  • Smoke.
  • Weed.

Most U.S. states and territories have legalized the medical use of marijuana, and certain states and territories have even legalized the drug for recreational purposes.5 This has led to increased use and may cause people to underestimate marijuana’s potential risks.6

Despite its state legalization, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level because of its high potential for misuse and is currently not recognized as having legitimate medical uses.4

Different Forms of Marijuana (Cannabis)

Marijuana is available in many different forms, such as:1,7,8

  • Dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds, which can be smoked in joints, pipes, water bongs, or vape devices like vape pens.
  • THC edibles, such as brownies, cookies, or candy. Some people also brew it as tea or infuse it into alcohol or cola.
  • Liquids or waxes, which can also be smoked in vape devices.
  • Resin, which is available in different forms (such as hash oil, honey oil, THC wax, budder, or shatter). The increasingly popular practice of smoking these THC-rich extracts or concentrates is known as “dabbing.”
  • Oils or tinctures, which can be taken via droplet under the tongue, mixed into beverages, or rubbed on the skin.

Signs of Marijuana Use and Misuse

People who are under the influence of marijuana or whose use has become problematic may display certain signs, including:8,9

  • Sudden mood shifts or irritability.
  • Clumsy or impaired movements.
  • Seeming unable to think straight or solve problems.
  • Poor memory or inability to recall things.
  • Carrying or storing paraphernalia (such as bongs, rolling papers, vape pens, or lighters) associated with marijuana use.
  • Acting silly or unusual for no apparent reason.
  • Having red or bloodshot eyes.
  • Increased appetite and wanting to eat outside of mealtimes.
  • Stealing money or having money that cannot be accounted for.
Effects and Health Risks

Effects of Marijuana Use

Marijuana can produce different short- and long-term effects on the mind and body. Some of the mental effects of marijuana may be perceived as desirable or pleasurable, while others can be uncomfortable and unpleasant.4

The physical effects of marijuana will vary depending on the individual, the method of use, how much is used and how often, and whether any other substances are used at the same time.1,4,10

Short-Term Effects of Marijuana Use

Some of the most common short-term effects of marijuana use include:1,4

  • Feeling ‘high’ or exhilaration.
  • Distorted perceptions or altered senses, like seeing brighter colors.
  • Altered sense of time.
  • Mood changes.
  • Disinhibition and increased sociability and talkativeness.
  • Impaired movement or coordination.
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Difficulty thinking and problem-solving.
  • Memory loss.
  • Hallucinations (when used in high doses).
  • Delusions (when used in high doses).
  • Psychosis (which can occur with regular use of high-potency marijuana).

Long-Term Effects & Risks of Marijuana Use

Some of the most common long-term effects of regular marijuana use include:1,4,10

  • Emphysema, bronchitis, or bronchial asthma.
  • Suppressed immune system.
  • Slowed brain development (in children and teens).
  • Issues with attention, memory, problem-solving skills, and behavior in children of mothers who use marijuana during pregnancy.
  • Chronic or permanent problems with attention, memory, and learning in people who use marijuana before age 18.
  • Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, which can result in regular cycles of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration that may require emergency medical attention.

Long-term marijuana use can also lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms if a person suddenly stops using it.1,7

Does Marijuana Affect Mental Health?

Yes, marijuana use can impact a person’s mental health and directly affect brain function, specifically how it regulates mood and emotions.1,9,10

Some studies have found a connection between marijuana use and certain mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and actions, and episodes of psychosis. But it’s unclear whether the drug is the main cause of these effects or conditions.11

Other studies have also shown a link between marijuana use and temporary hallucinations and paranoia, as well as worsening symptoms in people with schizophrenia.9

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Yes, marijuana can be addictive. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an estimated 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted to it. The risk of addiction increases to 1 in 6 for those under age 18.11

Is Marijuana Dangerous?

Using marijuana in any form may harm a person’s health, especially when used frequently or in large amounts. It can also cause harm to others, if, for example, someone smokes weed before or while driving.9

In fact, marijuana is reportedly the most common illegal drug involved in fatal car accidents.9

Laced Marijuana

Marijuana laced with fentanyl is not a major concern among healthcare workers, as compared to fentanyl-laced cocaine and opioids, which are increasingly being found and sold on the street. In fact, many reports regarding fentanyl-laced marijuana have proven to be inaccurate and based on faulty information.13

However, there are some reports of marijuana being laced with certain toxins used to increase the drug’s desired effects. For example, the toxin brodifacoum has been found in synthetic marijuana in the United States.14

Brodifacoum-laced marijuana can lead to serious complications, such as excessive bleeding and even death.14

Synthetic Cannabis

Synthetic cannabinoids (sometimes called “K2” or “spice”) may cause a number of dangerous health effects, including psychosis, extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. These substances can also cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior, and suicidal thoughts, and may lead to addiction.15

Dabbing Concentrates

As mentioned earlier, dabbing is the practice of smoking or vaping THC-rich extracts from the marijuana plant. Dabbing may increase the risk of certain health effects, due to the very high concentrations of THC found in these products.1

The process of preparing THC extracts can also be dangerous because it usually involves butane (or lighter fluid), which can cause fires and explosions.1

Can You Overdose on Marijuana?

Per the DEA and National Institute on Drug Abuse, there have been no reported overdose deaths from marijuana alone.1,4 However, when people mix cannabis with other drugs and alcohol, the risk of overdose may increase.16

Whether intentional or not, polysubstance use is always risky, because the effects are often stronger and more unpredictable, and in some cases, they may be fatal.16

For example, research shows that most people who use MDMA/ecstasy also use cannabis. The interaction between marijuana and MDMA is complex, and studies suggest that these drugs are more dangerous when used together than on their own.17

Detox and Treatment

Does Marijuana Cause Withdrawal?

If a person has been using marijuana regularly in large amounts, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using the drug.

Withdrawal symptoms from marijuana can include:12

  • Irritability.
  • Anxiety.
  • Trouble sleeping (e.g., insomnia, disturbing dreams).
  • Restlessness.
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss.
  • Depressed mood.

In some cases, people may also experience abdominal pain, tremors or shakiness, sweating, fever, chills, or headache.12

These symptoms generally begin within 24–72 hours after a person’s last use of marijuana, peak at around a week, and then resolve by the second week. Sleeping problems associated with marijuana withdrawal may last for 30 days or more.12

Withdrawal can make quitting marijuana and detoxing from THC difficult. While no medications are currently approved to treat marijuana addiction or withdrawal, medical detox and behavioral therapy can provide support and help address any uncomfortable symptoms that may arise.1,18

Treatment for Marijuana Addiction

If you or someone you care about is struggling with marijuana abuse or addiction, our drug rehab in Tampa, FL, can help you regain control of your life. We offer comprehensive, evidence-based therapeutic approaches and different levels of addiction treatment tailored to meet each person’s individual needs.

We also specialize in the treatment of co-occurring disorders for those struggling with addiction and other mental health conditions at the same time.

If you’re ready to start the path to recovery, contact us at to learn more about our programming and treatment options. Our staff is available 24/7 to answer any questions about ways to pay for rehab, using insurance to pay for rehab, or starting the admissions process.

You can also quickly verify your health insurance coverage by filling out this confidential .

You are not alone. Call us at to get the support you need and deserve today.