Information for Patients
Also called: Cannabis, Ganja, Grass, Hash, Pot, Weed
What is marijuana?
Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mix of dried, crumbled parts from the marijuana plant. The plant contains chemicals which act on your brain and can change your mood or consciousness.
How do people use marijuana?
There are many different ways that people use marijuana, including
- Rolling it up and smoking it like a cigarette or cigar
- Smoking it in a pipe
- Mixing it in food and eating it
- Brewing it as a tea
- Smoking oils from the plant ("dabbing")
- Using electronic vaporizers ("vaping")
What are the effects of marijuana?
Marijuana can cause both short-term and long-term effects.
While you are high, you may experience
- Altered senses, such as seeing brighter colors
- Altered sense of time, such as minutes seeming like hours
- Changes in mood
- Problems with body movement
- Trouble with thinking, problem-solving, and memory
- Increased appetite
In the long term, marijuana can cause health problems, such as
- Problems with brain development. People who started using marijuana as teenagers may have trouble with thinking, memory, and learning.
- Coughing and breathing problems, if you smoke marijuana frequently
- Problems with child development during and after pregnancy, if a woman smokes marijuana while pregnant
Can you overdose on marijuana?
It is possible to overdose on marijuana, if you take a very high dose. Symptoms of an overdose include anxiety, panic, and a rapid heartbeat. In rare cases, an overdose can cause paranoia and hallucinations. There are no reports of people dying from using just marijuana.
Is marijuana addictive?
After using marijuana for a while, it is possible to get addicted to it. You are more likely to become addicted if you use marijuana every day or you started using it when you were a teenager. If you are addicted, you will have a strong need to take the drug. You may also need to smoke more and more of it to get the same high. When you try to quit, you may have mild withdrawal symptoms such as
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased appetite
What is medical marijuana?
The marijuana plant has chemicals that can help with some health problems. More states are making it legal to use the plant as medicine for certain medical conditions. But there isn't enough research to show that the whole plant works to treat or cure these conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the marijuana plant as a medicine. Marijuana is still illegal at the national level.
However, there have been scientific studies of cannabinoids, the chemicals in marijuana. The two main cannabinoids that are of medical interest are THC and CBD. The FDA has approved two drugs that contain THC. These drugs treat nausea caused by chemotherapy and increase appetite in patients who have severe weight loss from AIDS. There is also a liquid drug that contains CBD. It treats two forms of severe childhood epilepsy. Scientists are doing more research with marijuana and its ingredients to treat many diseases and conditions.
NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Marijuana intoxication (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Medical marijuana (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Substance use -- marijuana (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Tips for Teens: The Truth about Marijuana (National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information)