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What’s Down with Marijuana? (II)

Source: CASP Center for Drug Abuse Prevention: 
SAMHSA Prevention Alert, May 30, 2003

 What's down with marijuana? 

  1.       Marijuana can cause severe anxiety, psychotic behavior, depression, and may, in people disposed to the illness, trigger or worsen schizophrenia.

  2.       More teens smoke marijuana for the first time in June and July than any other time of the year. Summer’s unsupervised time is the likely reason.

  3.       Within 2 weeks to 3 months of quitting smoking tobacco or marijuana, lung function improves 30 percent. Within 9 months, lungs are better able to fight infection. After five years, risk of lung cancer is cut in half. After 10 years, lung cancer risk is equivalent to someone who never smoked.

  4.       Marijuana can be addictive. More youth ages 12 to 17 (60 percent in 1999) enter substance abuse treatment for marijuana use than all other drug abuse combined, including alcohol.

  5.       Admission for drug treatment for marijuana dependence for youth ages 12 to 17 increased 43 percent from 1994 to 1999. More than half (57 percent) of these youth had used marijuana before the age of 14.

  6.       There are almost one million listings for “marijuana” on Internet search engines, but about 90 percent of them are pro-legalization or glorify marijuana use.

  7.       There is a legal extract of marijuana’s THC for cancer sufferers. It’s a pill called Merinol and requires a doctor’s prescription. However, there are no studies which indicate smoking any substance is good for the lungs or health in general. In short, smoking marijuana for health benefits is a contradiction in terms.

  8.       A greater percentage of White youth smoke marijuana than Black youth or Hispanics. (American Indian youth have the highest rate of marijuana use of all ethnic groups.)

  9.       Forty-five percent of reckless drivers not impaired by alcohol tested positive for marijuana. Illegal drugs are used by 10 to 22 percent of drivers involved in crashes.

  10.       The risk of using cocaine is 104 times greater for those who have tried marijuana   than for those who haven’t.

  11.       The average marijuana smoker spends $816 a year on his habit.

  12.       Marijuana is the number one cash crop in poor areas of Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia—more than 40 percent of the nationwide total.

  13.       The average THC content of marijuana today is about 5 percent, more than twice the potency of the average marijuana in the sixties. It is not uncommon to find marijuana with 10 times the THC potency of twenty years ago. Hash oil can be found to have 55 percent THC content.

Great marijuana websites is an exciting new science- and research- based SAMHSA site for youth on marijuana. It’s interactive, and it answers a host of typical questions asked by youth, such as “Isn’t alcohol worse than marijuana?” and “Does marijuana lead to the use of other drugs?” is a great site for youth run by the Office of National Drug Control Policy that includes high school journalist interviews with celebrities who have spoken out publicly against marijuana. For example, Trevor Goddard of TV’s JAG says “my ‘anti-drugs’ are my two young sons and the memory of seeing friends die from drug overdoses.” The Singer Jewel says, “There’s so much else you can do with a natural high.” 

Parents can find good material at and educators may use

A useful Spanish site is at

New media prevention efforts

In March 2003, an “Open Letter to Parents” about the dangers of marijuana began to run in 300 newspapers nationwide signed by seven leading national organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Automobile Association. A “Marijuana Awareness Kit” and “Schools Out” summer education material are available at 

Sources; A Summary of Findings from the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, SAMHSA, 2002; Overview of the Key Findings, Monitoring the Future 2001, National Institutes of Health, 2002; Marijuana, Substance Abuse Resource Guide, SAMHSA, 2000; Emergency Department Trends from the DAWN, Preliminary Estimates, 2001, SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, 2002; Marijuana: Weeding Out the Hype!, SAMHSA, 2002. Office of National Drug Policy, What Americans Spend on Illegal Drugs, 1988-1995, 1997. David Vise and Lorraine Adams, “Study: Local Drug ‘Epidemics’ Plague U.S.”, Washington Post, December 16, 1999. Margi Grady, “Cognitive Deficits Associated with Heavy Marijuana Use Appear To Be Reversible”, NIDA Notes, Volume 17, No.1, 2002.