- 9 things to know about marijuana
- #1 Use with intention
- #3 Avoid mixing marijuana with alcohol and other substances
- #4 Wait before engaging in activities that may put you at a higher risk
- #5 Start low and go slow
- #8 Use with people you trust
- #9 Keep public health guidelines in mind
- Campus Resources
- Marijuana: What Parents Need to Know
- Short-Term Effects
- Long-Term Effects
- Other Problems
- Medical Use of Marijuana
- What's It to Quit?
- U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory: Marijuana Use and the Developing Brain
- Marijuana Use during Pregnancy
- Marijuana Use during Adolescence
- You Can Take Action
- Information for Youth:
- Information for States, Communities, Tribes, and Territories:
- Know the Risks of Marijuana
- Marijuana Risks
- Marijuana Addiction
- About Marijuana
- Rise of Marijuana Use
- Get the Files
9 things to know about marijuana
Marijuana and its active components (such as THC and CBD, among other cannabinoids) exist in many forms and strengths and can affect people in different ways. Whether it's your first time or you're a frequent user, here are some things to consider if you choose to use marijuana.
#1 Use with intention
Taking time to reflect on your relationship with marijuana and the reasons you may choose to use can help you have more of the experiences you want to have (and avoid those you don’t).
First, think about the feelings, actions or benefits you want to experience from using marijuana. Next, think through some of the things you don’t want to experience. Working through these types of exercises can be a great starting point in understanding your choices around marijuana.
Here are a few examples to help get you started:
Double check the serving size for edible marijuana products. A standard serving size contains no more than 10 mg of THC. However, your own tolerance may affect how serving sizes impact you.
If it’s your first time using edible products, start with a smaller amount (2.5-5 mg).
It’s also important to remember that it may take 2 hours for edibles to begin to take effect and up to 4 hours to feel the full effect.
#3 Avoid mixing marijuana with alcohol and other substances
Using one substance at a time is more ly to result in the experiences you want to have. Mixing two or more substances can make it challenging to predict what is going to happen or how you will be affected. Additionally, two or more substances used together can result in adverse side effects. Play it safe by only using one substance at a time.
#4 Wait before engaging in activities that may put you at a higher risk
It’s recommended to wait at least 3-6 hours after vaping or smoking and 6-8 hours after consuming edibles before engaging in higher risk activities driving, skiing or swimming. These times can vary depending on your tolerance and use. In some cases you may need to wait longer than the recommended times.
#5 Start low and go slow
If you’ve never used marijuana before, start low and go slow until you know how it will affect you. This is especially important when experimenting with edibles and concentrates. Look for products with lower THC levels and wait to see how it affects you before consuming more.
For reference, flower usually contains 10-30% THC while concentrates commonly contain 60-90% or more. If you choose to use, go with products that are within your limits, and always follow the guidelines and directions provided on the original packaging.
If you are using marijuana products purchased by friends, ask if you can see the original packaging to confirm the concentration.
other substances, frequent use of marijuana can increase your tolerance, which means it may take more to achieve the same effect. Using marijuana less frequently has also been shown to lower the risk of dependency, negative mental health symptoms and long-term health effects. Not sure if you need to reduce your frequency? Here are a few questions to help you reflect on your current use:
- Is my consumption adversely affecting my productivity, school performance or job performance?
- Is my consumption interfering with my relationships?
- Is my consumption impacting my memory?
- Am I feeling more fatigued than I’d to be?
- Am I breaking my own rules or limits around marijuana use?
- How is my use impacting me financially?
Keep marijuana products in their original packaging so they are easily identifiable. Be sure to store them in a safe area that cannot be accessed by pets or young children. If a pet or child consumes any marijuana products, call a vet or health care provider right away.
#8 Use with people you trust
Using marijuana with people you know, trust and feel comfortable with is more ly to result in a positive experience. If you feel pressured to use more than you’re comfortable with, come up with ways you can say “no”. For example, you could say, “No thanks, I need to drive home later.” or “I’m going to start with this and see how it goes.”
#9 Keep public health guidelines in mind
If you choose to smoke marijuana, remember to follow public health guidelines:
- Avoid “puff and pass” rotations and do not share joints, bongs, pipes, vaporizers or other personal items with others. Keep these items clean for your own personal use.
- Avoid blowing smoke or vapor into an enclosed or poorly ventilated area. Never blow smoke or vapor directly at another person.
- Practice physical distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet between yourself and others.
- Follow all current public health orders and limitations on gathering size.
- Wear a face covering when you are not actively using or consuming marijuana.
In addition to following public health guidelines, remember that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. Exercise caution when smoking, vaping or using other inhalation methods for marijuana.
If you'd to talk to someone, resources are available on campus. CU Health Promotion offers an Exploring Substance Use Workshop.
This free, voluntary workshop provides students with a safe, non-judgmental space where they can explore their relationship with substance use and discuss personal experiences.
Students of all levels of use and non-use are welcome.
For additional on-campus support and resources, visit the Get Help and Resources page or check out the Collegiate Recovery Center (CUCRC).
Join Health and Wellness Services for a free Smokeless 4/20 event on Tuesday, Apr. 20. Enjoy yard games, sunshine and community-building activities at Sewall Field from 2-5 p.m.
Marijuana: What Parents Need to Know
Marijuana is a shredded, green-brown mix of dried flowers, stems, and leaves from the plant Cannabis sativa. A stronger form of marijuana, called hashish (hash), looks brown or black cakes or balls. The amount of THC (the active ingredient) in marijuana and marijuana products has increased greatly over the years.
Marijuana is usually rolled and smoked a cigarette (joints or doobies), or put in hollowed-out cigars (blunts), pipes (bowls), or water pipes (bongs). Recently, it has become increasingly popular for people to inhale marijuana or stronger marijuana extracts using a vaporizer (called «vaping» or «dabbing»). Some people mix it into food or brew it as a tea.
There is also «synthetic marijuana» — manmade drugs that are chemically similar to THC — that can be dangerously strong. Names for these drugs include «K2,» «Spice,» and «Herbal Incense.» They can be so potent that overdose deaths have happened.
The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). When someone smokes marijuana, THC goes from the lungs into the bloodstream. From there, it ends up in the brain and other organs.
THC connects with a receptor on nerve cells in the brain. The marijuana «high» results from THC's effects on the nerve cells that control sensory perception and pleasure.
THC also connects with receptors on nerve cells in other parts of the brain that affect thinking, memory, coordination, and concentration. This can cause unwanted side effects, including:
- trouble thinking and problem solving
- problems with memory and learning
- loss of coordination
- distorted perception
These side effects are temporary, but they can make it dangerous to do things drive while under the influence of marijuana.
People also might notice other short-term side effects of using marijuana, such as:
- an increased appetite
- feeling lightheaded or drowsy
- a decrease in inhibitions
Research has found that people who use marijuana over a long period of time can have more lasting side effects. For example:
Changes in the brain. Marijuana can affect the parts of the brain that play a role in our ability to remember, multitask, and pay attention.
Fertility issues. Animal studies suggest that using a lot of marijuana might be linked to decreased sperm count in men and delayed ovulation in women. Pregnant women who use marijuana might be more ly to have babies with developmental and behavioral problems.
Respiratory problems. People who smoke marijuana a lot can develop problems with the respiratory system — more mucus, a chronic cough, and bronchitis.
Immune system problems. Using marijuana a lot might make it harder for the body to fight off infections.
Emotional problems. People who use a lot of marijuana are more ly to say they notice signs of depression or anxiety. If someone has a condition schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, marijuana can sometimes make symptoms worse.
Here are a few ways marijuana use could affect your child:
Criminal charges. Marijuana laws can be confusing. Some states are changing their laws to make it legal to have small amounts of marijuana in some situations ( when it's prescribed for medical use).
Some have even made recreational use of marijuana by adults (over 21) legal.
But there are conflicting federal laws against using, growing, or selling marijuana — and people caught with it could face charges, including jail time.
Career problems. People charged under marijuana laws may end up with criminal records that hurt their plans for college or finding a job.
Drug testing. These days, employers often test for drug use as part of the hiring process. Marijuana can show up on a drug test for several weeks after it was last used. So people who use marijuana may find they don't get a job they want. Some companies do routine drug tests on employees, so people who use marijuana can lose their jobs.
Medical Use of Marijuana
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved pills containing THC or other cannabinoids (chemicals similar to THC) as a way to help relieve pain, nausea, muscle stiffness, or problems with movement.
There's still a lot of discussion about the medical use of marijuana, though. THC and other cannabinoid pills are only available in some states and require a doctor's prescription.
At the moment, there's not enough research to say for sure if smoking marijuana is any more helpful than taking THC or other cannabinoids as a pill. Scientists are still studying this.
What's It to Quit?
People who use marijuana for a while can have withdrawal symptoms when they try to give it up. They may feel irritable, anxious, or depressed; have trouble sleeping; or not feel eating.
Marijuana withdrawal can be a bit caffeine withdrawal: It's usually worse a day or two after someone stops using marijuana. After that, withdrawal symptoms gradually decrease. They're usually gone a week or two after the person no longer uses the drug.
Marijuana can be addictive. About 1 in 10 people who use the drug regularly can develop a «marijuana use disorder.» These people can't stop using marijuana even though it causing problems in their lives. This is much more ly to happen in people who start using marijuana before age 18.
Studies suggest that a combination of individual counseling and group therapy sessions is the best approach for stopping marijuana use.
U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory: Marijuana Use and the Developing Brain
Background • Use in Pregnancy • Use in Adolescence • Info for Parents • Info for Health Professionals
I, Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams, am emphasizing the importance of protecting our Nation from the health risks of marijuana use in adolescence and during pregnancy. Recent increases in access to marijuana and in its potency, along with misperceptions of safety of marijuana endanger our most precious resource, our nation’s youth.
BE PREPARED. GET NALOXONE. SAVE A LIFE.
Marijuana, or cannabis, is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.
It acts by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including euphoria, intoxication, and memory and motor impairments. These same cannabinoid receptors are also critical for brain development.
They are part of the endocannabinoid system, which impacts the formation of brain circuits important for decision making, mood and responding to stress1.
Marijuana and its related products are widely available in multiple forms. These products can be eaten, drunk, smoked, and vaped2.
Marijuana contains varying levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component responsible for euphoria and intoxication, and cannabidiol (CBD).
While CBD is not intoxicating and does not lead to addiction, its long-term effects are largely unknown, and most CBD products are untested and of uncertain purity3.
Marijuana has changed over time. The marijuana available today is much stronger than previous versions. The THC concentration in commonly cultivated marijuana plants has increased three-fold between 1995 and 2014 (4% and 12% respectively)4.
Marijuana available in dispensaries in some states has average concentrations of THC between 17.7% and 23.2%5. Concentrated products, commonly known as dabs or waxes, are far more widely available to recreational users today and may contain between 23.
7% and 75.9% THC6.
The risks of physical dependence, addiction, and other negative consequences increase with exposure to high concentrations of THC7 and the younger the age of initiation. Higher doses of THC are more ly to produce anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and psychosis8.
Edible marijuana takes time to absorb and to produce its effects, increasing the risk of unintentional overdose, as well as accidental ingestion by children9 and adolescents10.
In addition, chronic users of marijuana with a high THC content are at risk for developing a condition known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, which is marked by severe cycles of nausea and vomiting11.
This advisory is intended to raise awareness of the known and potential harms to developing brains, posed by the increasing availability of highly potent marijuana in multiple, concentrated forms.
These harms are costly to individuals and to our society, impacting mental health and educational achievement and raising the risks of addiction and misuse of other substances. Additionally, marijuana use remains illegal for youth under state law in all states; normalization of its use raises the potential for criminal consequences in this population.
In addition to the health risks posed by marijuana use, sale or possession of marijuana remains illegal under federal law notwithstanding some state laws to the contrary.
Marijuana Use during Pregnancy
Pregnant women use marijuana more than any other illicit drug. In a national survey, marijuana use in the past month among pregnant women doubled (3.4% to 7%) between 2002 and 201712.
In a study conducted in a large health system, marijuana use rose by 69% (4.2% to 7.1%) between 2009 and 2016 among pregnant women13.
Alarmingly, many retail dispensaries recommend marijuana to pregnant women for morning sickness14.
Marijuana use during pregnancy can affect the developing fetus.
- THC can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream.
- It may disrupt the endocannabinoid system, which is important for a healthy pregnancy and fetal brain development1
- Studies have shown that marijuana use in pregnancy is associated with adverse outcomes, including lower birth weight15.
- The Colorado Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System reported that maternal marijuana use was associated with a 50% increased risk of low birth weight regardless of maternal age, race, ethnicity, education, and tobacco use16.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists holds that “[w]omen who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use.
Women reporting marijuana use should be counseled about concerns regarding potential adverse health consequences of continued use during pregnancy”17.
In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that “…it is important to advise all adolescents and young women that if they become pregnant, marijuana should not be used during pregnancy”18.
Maternal marijuana use may still be dangerous to the baby after birth. THC has been found in breast milk for up to six days after the last recorded use.
It may affect the newborn’s brain development and result in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences19, 20, 21.
Additionally, marijuana smoke contains many of the same harmful components as tobacco smoke22. No one should smoke marijuana or tobacco around a baby.
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Marijuana Use during Adolescence
Marijuana is also commonly used by adolescents4, second only to alcohol. In 2017, approximately 9.2 million youth aged 12 to 25 reported marijuana use in the past month and 29% more young adults aged 18-25 started using marijuana23.
In addition, high school students’ perception of the harm from regular marijuana use has been steadily declining over the last decade24. During this same period, a number of states have legalized adult use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, while it remains illegal under federal law.
The legalization movement may be impacting youth perception of harm from marijuana.
The human brain continues to develop from before birth into the mid-20s and is vulnerable to the effects of addictive substances25, 26. Frequent marijuana use during adolescence is associated with:
- Changes in the areas of the brain involved in attention, memory, decision-making, and motivation. Deficits in attention and memory have been detected in marijuana-using teens even after a month of abstinence27.
- Impaired learning in adolescents. Chronic use is linked to declines in IQ, school performance that jeopardizes professional and social achievements, and life satisfaction28.
- Increased rates of school absence and drop-out, as well as suicide attempts29.
Risk for and early onset of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. The risk for psychotic disorders increases with frequency of use, potency of the marijuana product, and as the age at first use decreases30.
- Other substance use31, 32. In 2017, teens 12-17 reporting frequent use of marijuana showed a 130% greater lihood of misusing opioids23.
Marijuana’s increasingly widespread availability in multiple and highly potent forms, coupled with a false and dangerous perception of safety among youth, merits a nationwide call to action.
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You Can Take Action
No amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is known to be safe. Until and unless more is known about the long-term impact, the safest choice for pregnant women and adolescents is not to use marijuana.
Pregnant women and youth—and those who love them—need the facts and resources to support healthy decisions.
It is critical to educate women and youth, as well as family members, school officials, state and local leaders, and health professionals, about the risks of marijuana, particularly as more states contemplate legalization.
Science-based messaging campaigns and targeted prevention programming are urgently needed to ensure that risks are clearly communicated and amplified by local, state, and national organizations.
Clinicians can help by asking about marijuana use, informing mothers-to-be, new mothers, young people, and those vulnerable to psychotic disorders, of the risks. Clinicians can also prescribe safe, effective, and FDA-approved treatments for nausea, depression, and pain during pregnancy.
Further research is needed to understand all the impacts of THC on the developing brain, but we know enough now to warrant concern and action. Everyone has a role in protecting our young people from the risks of marijuana.
You have an important role to play for a healthy next generation.
Information for Youth:
You have an important role to play for a healthy next generation.
Information for States, Communities, Tribes, and Territories:
You have an important role to play for a healthy next generation.
You have an important role to play for a healthy next generation.
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Know the Risks of Marijuana
Marijuana use comes with real risks that can impact a person’s health and life.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in the U.S. and its use is growing.
Marijuana use among all adult age groups, both sexes, and pregnant women is going up. At the same time, the perception of how harmful marijuana use can be is declining.
Increasingly, young people today do not consider marijuana use a risky behavior.
But there are real risks for people who use marijuana, especially youth and young adults, and women who are pregnant or nursing. Today’s marijuana is stronger than ever before. People can and do become addicted to marijuana.
Approximately 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. When they start before age 18, the rate of addiction rises to 1 in 6.
Marijuana use can have negative and long-term effects:
Brain health: Marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss of as much as 8 points when people start using it at a young age. These IQ points do not come back, even after quitting marijuana.
Mental health: Studies link marijuana use to depression, anxiety, suicide planning, and psychotic episodes. It is not known, however, if marijuana use is the cause of these conditions.
Athletic Performance: Research shows that marijuana affects timing, movement, and coordination, which can harm athletic performance.
Driving: People who drive under the influence of marijuana can experience dangerous effects: slower reactions, lane weaving, decreased coordination, and difficulty reacting to signals and sounds on the road.
Baby’s health and development: Marijuana use during pregnancy may cause fetal growth restriction, premature birth, stillbirth, and problems with brain development, resulting in hyperactivity and poor cognitive function. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals from marijuana can also be passed from a mother to her baby through breast milk, further impacting a child’s healthy development.
Daily life: Using marijuana can affect performance and how well people do in life. Research shows that people who use marijuana are more ly to have relationship problems, worse educational outcomes, lower career achievement, and reduced life satisfaction.
Marijuana use during pregnancy can be harmful to a baby’s health and cause many serious problems.
How much do you really want to know about the risks of marijuana? You might be surprised.
Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is addictive. Research shows that:
- 1-in-6 people who start using the drug before the age of 18 can become addicted.
- 1-in-10 adults who use the drug can become addicted.
Over the past few decades, the amount of THC in marijuana has steadily climbed; today's marijuana has three times the concentration of THC compared to 25 years ago.
The higher the THC amount, the stronger the effects on the brain—ly contributing to increased rates of marijuana-related emergency room visits.
While there is no research yet on how higher potency affects the long-term risks of marijuana use, more THC is ly to lead to higher rates of dependency and addiction.
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that contains close to 500 chemicals, including THC, a mind-altering compound that causes harmful health effects.
People smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes, in pipes or water pipes, in blunts, and by using vaporizers that pull THC from the marijuana. Marijuana can also be mixed in food (edibles), such as brownies, cookies, and candy, or brewed as a tea. People also smoke or eat different forms of marijuana extracts, which deliver a large amount of THC and can be potentially more dangerous.
Rise of Marijuana Use
Today, marijuana use is on the rise among all adult age groups, both sexes, and pregnant women. People ages 18-25 have the highest rate of use.
Marijuana and THC remain illegal at the federal level, even though many states have legalized its use. In states where legal, marijuana is a fast-growing industry with sales to individuals over 21 in retail stores, wineries, breweries, coffee shops, dispensaries, online, as well as grown at home.
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