Marijuana is an addictive drug that is linked to health and safety issues, and one that has public health and policy concerns, especially for the youth of Androscoggin County and Maine. 

Marijuana use is not harmless, especially for youth. 

  • Marijuana is addictive.  About 9% people who use marijuana become addicted.[i]  More importantly,cannabis the chance of addiction increases to 17% for those who start using as teens and to 25-50% for daily users.[ii] In 2011 marijuana was the illicit drug with the highest rate of past year dependence or misuse in the US, followed by pain relievers and cocaine.[iii]
  • Studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety and depression. [iv]  Marijuana use can also increase the risk of schizophrenia in individuals who are genetically predisposed to it.[v]
  • The average level of THC (the chemical that makes people get high and which can lead to addiction) in marijuana has more than doubled since 1998.[vi]
  • Marijuana was involved in over 450,000 emergency department visits for misuse of drugs in the US in 2011.[vii]

Marijuana endangers the health and safety of Androscoggin County and Maine youth.

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  • Although most Androscoggin County youth do not use marijuana, over 1/3 of high school students have used marijuana at least once and about one out of five have used within the last month.  45% of Androscoggin County high school students believe there is no or little risk of harm to people who smoke marijuana regularly.[viii]
  • Last year marijuana was the substance for which Maine youth most often sought treatment for addiction.  Out of the 537 substance abuse treatment admissions for youth under the age of 18, 67.6% (363) listed marijuana as their primary drug leading to admission, while 21% listed alcohol.[ix]

Marijuana endangers the academic performance and success of Androscoggin County and Maine youth.

  • Marijuana can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems young womaniStock_000006020152Mediumwith learning and memory.[x]
  • Compared with their nonsmoking peers, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are twice as likely to drop out of high school.[xi]
  • Recent research based on a study of over 1000 people shows that people who started smoking marijuana as teens and continued to use it heavily for years showed an average drop of 8 IQ points by age 38.[xii]
  • Marijuana use is strongly linked to poorer outcomes later in life.  One New Zealand study showed associations between increasing levels of marijuana use at ages 14-21 and higher levels of social welfare dependence, higher unemployment, and lower income and lower levels of academic degree attainment by age 25.[xiii]  A US study showed poorer outcomes for chronic marijuana users in terms of education attained, household income, and overall life satisfaction.[xiv]

 Marijuana endangers the roads of Androscoggin County and Maine.  

  • Marijuana use, and its impairment of motor coordination and reaction time, doubles the risk of car crashes.[xv]
  • Cannabinoids, the drug class that includes marijuana, ranked as the number one drug found in Maine impaired driving cases (Jan 2009-Aug 2011) when a Drug Recognition Expert was called in.[xvi]

Below are links to video of the April 30 community education statement about marijuana and public health sponsored by the Maine Sheriffs’ Association, the Maine Network of Healthy Communities, and the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse.

  • Safety and Success of Maine Youth: Healthy Androscoggin’s Scott Gagnon

  • Law Enforcement, Public Safety and Public Health: Sheriff Randy Liberty

  • Treatment and Recovery Perspective: Bruce Campbell

  • Healthy and Safe Choices for Maine: Jamie Comstock

  • Learn the Facts: Sheriff Joel Merry

Marijuana-Impaired Driving

Discussions of marijuana legalization in Maine are putting increased focus on marijuana-impaired driving and its impact on public safety.  The latest science on the effects of marijuana on the brain and body explains how the drug can significantly alter the ability of an individual to drive a vehicle safely.  The typical effect is significantly diminished psychomotor performance.  Psychomotor skills are essential for the basics of driving; steering, braking, and shifting between gears.  These effects can more than double the risk of a vehicle crash.  Click to read more about marijuana-impaired driving.

Links and Resources

Below are links to federal and state organizations with more information on marijuana science and policy including materials for youth, parents, schools, community organizations, and professionals.

[i] Budney, A. J., Roffman, R., Stephens, R. S., Walker, D. (2007) Marijuana dependence and its treatment Addict Sci Clin Pract, 4(1): pp 4-16

[ii] Anthony,  J.C., Warner, L.A., Kessler, R.C. (1994): Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances and inhalants: basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2(3):pp.244-268

[iii] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-44, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4713. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012.   Retrieved from

[iv] Moore TH, Zammit S, Lingford‐Hughes A, et al. (2007) Cannabis use and risk of psychotic or affective mental health outcomes: A systematic review. Lancet 370(9584):319–328.

[v] Caspi, A. et al., (2005) Cannabis use in adolescence and risk for adult psychosis: longitudinal prospective study. Biol. Psychiatry, 57(10): 1117-1127.

[vi] National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR), Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Quarterly Report, Potency MonitoringProject, Report 107, September 16, 2009 thru December 15, 2009. University, MS: NCNPR, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi (January 12, 2010).

[vii] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. The DAWN Report: Highlights of the 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Findings on Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. Rockville, MD.

[viii] 2013 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey.  Retrieved from

[ix] FY2012 Maine Treatment Data System.

[x] Pope HG, Gruber AJ, Hudson JI, Huestis MA, Yurgelun‐Todd D. (2001) Neuropsychological performance in longterm cannabis users. Arch Gen Psychiatry 58(10):909–915.

[xi] Macleod, J.; Oakes, R.; Copello, A.; Crome, I.; Egger, M.; Hickman, M.; Oppenkowski, T.; Stokes-Lampard, H.; and Davey Smith, G. (2004) Psychological and social sequelae of cannabis and other illicit drug use by young people: A systematic review of longitudinal, general population studies. Lancet 363(9421):1579-1588.

[xii] Meier, M.H. , Caspi, A. et al. (2012) Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Published online before print August 27, 2012, doi: 10.1073/ pnas.1206820109 PNAS October 2, 2012 vol. 109 no. 40 E2657-E2664  Retrieved from:

[xiii] Fergusson, D.M. and Boden, J.M.  (2008) Cannabis use and later life outcomes.  Addiction, 103: 969-976.

[xiv] Gruber, AJ et al., (2003) Attributes of long-term heavy cannabis users: a case-control study.  Psychological Medicine, 33, pp. 1415-1422.

[xv] M. Asbridge, J.A. Hayden, J.L. Cartwright. (2012) Acute cannabis consumption and motor vehicle collision risk; systematic review of observational studies and meta-analysis.  British Medical Journal,  344 : e536: DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e536

[xvi] Brunell, D. (Maine Dept. of Transportation), Pierce, S. (Maine Dept. of Health and Human Services), Drug Recognition Experts. (March 2012) Maine Drug and Alcohol Crash Related Data. [Powerpoint slides]

Compiled by the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse (March 2013)