Marijuana: What Parents Need to Know


Every parent worries about the health and well being of their children. As they grow older and step in the “experimental phase” of their lives, it’s only natural for parents to worry about their safety and the choices they make.

If you are a parent of a teenager or a young adult, at some point you are likely to wonder if your child is experimenting with drugs or using them regularly. First of all, it is important to understand that it is perfectly normal to have your suspicions.

Irrespective of whether your child is hooked on drugs or not, you can deal with the situation while maintaining a healthy and loving relationship with your child. If you are curious, there are probably a million questions and scenarios flying around your head. We’re here to help answer a few of those as you tread through this internal conversation.

What is Marijuana?

marijuana use by teens

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs. It goes by many names, but the most common are weed or K2. At its scientific core, it is a shredded mix of leaves, flowers, and stem of Cannabis Sativa, which is a plant native to Asia. It is also known as “Hemp”. A stronger form of marijuana is generally available in the form of dark brown or black lumps or balls which is also called hash (Hashish).

There are a numerous ways of consuming marijuana with the most well-known being a rolled form called a “joint” or a “doobie” and smoked like a traditional cigarette. Many people put it in hollowed-out cigars to prepare a “blunt”. It can also be consumed through pipe or bong. In recent years, a new trend has been observed among marijuana users that is becoming increasingly popular which is to inhale this substance using a vaporizer. The common term for this method is “vaping” or “dabbing”. It is also common to experiment with marijuana by mixing it with food or brewing it as a tea. “Pot Brownies” are rather popular among marijuana users when it comes to mixing food and weed.

Apart from the shredded-plant marijuana, your child can get their hands on “synthetic weed”. This can be dangerously potent as it contains man-made drugs that are chemically close to the active ingredients in marijuana. Synthetic marijuana goes by the name of “K2” or “Spice”. Generally, it is considered to be more dangerous than the shredded plant marijuana.

Is Marijuana Legal?

The legality of marijuana for medical and recreational use varies from country to country, and in America it varies from state to state. Currently, Uruguay and Canada are the only countries that have completely legalized the use of marijuana. On the other hand, in the United States, 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized its use. However, it is federally illegal.

Regardless of the legality of marijuana, it is important to understand that it is an addictive drug that can have a number of adverse effects on mental and physical health. Even if it is legal in your country, it is still advisable to make sure that your child steers clear of it.  

Short-term Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana provides a short lasting “high” to users. This is what makes it so popular among people, especially the younger generation. When consumed, the active ingredients in marijuana mix in the bloodstream of the body. When this blood reaches the brain, it affects the nerve cells that overlook the sensory perception and activates the reward system in the brain. This is where the “high” state stems from.

Here’s a list of some common short-term effects of marijuana.

  • The user experiences a sense of euphoria and happiness.
  • The user may experience difficulty in thinking and come to conclusions.
  • The user may indulge in risky behavior.
  • Loss of coordination is a common effect of marijuana.
  • The user may feel unusually hungry after consuming marijuana.
  • Marijuana can trigger anxiety or paranoia.
  • The user may experience lightheadedness or may feel drowsy.
  • The user may experience a short-term memory loss.

While all of these effects last only for a short period of time, they can pose serious threats to the user. For example, driving under the influence of marijuana can lead to serious accidents. Due to the nature of how it inhibits the ability to think properly, the user may indulge in risky or irresponsible behavior and can get in various sorts of trouble.   

Long-term Effects of Marijuana

While most people believe that the effects of marijuana last only for a few hours, that’s not entirely true. Yes, the short-term effects alleviate in some time, but there are a number of long-term effects that come with consistent use of marijuana. Here’s how using marijuana can affect the life of an individual in the long run.

  • The long-term, consistent use of marijuana has been linked with depression and anxiety attacks.
  • It can promote a number of psychotic illnesses and lead an individual to lose touch with reality.
  • Most children who experiment with marijuana may fall behind in school as it affects their ability to concentrate, understand and remember things.
  • Marijuana serves as the stepping stone for developing substance abuse problems. Marijuana users are more likely to become heavy drinkers or pick up smoking.
  • Consuming marijuana has been linked with a number of health diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
  • Marijuana users can become dependent on the substance. In fact, they may experience withdrawal symptoms.   

Signs of Using Marijuana

This is the most common question that most parents ask: how do I know my child is using marijuana? Well, here are a few signs that may indicate that your child has been experimenting with marijuana.

  • Your child may seem moodier.
  • Your child may display unusual behavior.
  • Their eyes are often red or glassy.
  • You may notice the strong skunky smell of marijuana in their room or on their clothes.
  • Your child may lose interest in activities that they previously enjoyed.
  • Their grades may fall and you may find them skipping classes.

If you discover that your child is using marijuana, there is absolutely no need to panic. Have a conversation with them like a grown up. Make sure that they know you love them and are worried about their well being. Tell them about all the health risks that come with using marijuana. The idea is to have an open discussion with your child. If you think you require further help, don’t hesitate to contact Arizona Addiction Recovery Center.