Marijuana and Our Youth

Marijuana use changes teens’ brains, bodies, and behaviors.  By preventing youth marijuana use, we help Androscoggin County teens have safe, healthy and successful futures!

Marijuana Use and Impairment

Two Wreck

Marijuana use lowers teens’ good judgment and self‐control. This may lead to bad decisions and risky behavior.

  • Heavy marijuana use is linked to an increased risk of a motor vehicle crashes. i
  • Nationally, in 2011, 57 % of Emergency Department visits for illicit drug use among 12‐24 year olds involved marijuana. ii
  • Using marijuana weekly or more has also been shown to double a teen’s risk of depression or anxiety. iii iv

Impact of Marijuana Use on Health

Your teen only has one brain and one body. Marijuana use damages both in a way that can make problems for them now and in the future.marijuana smoke

  • Studies indicate that problems with attention, learning, memory and processing speeds can be associated with heavy marijuana use during adolescence. v vi
  • The amount of tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed are three to five times greater than from tobacco smoke. vii
  • Marijuana contains more cancer causing chemicals than tobacco. Marijuana smokers inhale deeply and hold the smoke in their lungs longer which may increase their risk for developing lung cancer. viii
  • Recent studies have shown a link between frequent marijuana use and the occurrence of testicular cancer.ix

The Risks of Marijuana Use to the Futures and Success of Youth:

failing grades

Marijuana use keeps teens from doing their best in school, work, and learning new skills. This affects them for the rest of their life.

  • Marijuana use in teens has been linked to lower academic performance and reduced job prospects. x
  • Heavy marijuana users experience attention and memory problems which last beyond the time when they are high. Studies indicate these problems can worsen with years of regular use. xi

Youth Marijuana Use and Addiction:

youth smoking

Teens who use marijuana are at an increased risk for addiction which leads to health and safety risks.

  • Research has established that marijuana is addictive and that it is three times more likely to lead to dependence among adolescents than adults. xii
  • About 1 in 6 of those who start using marijuana in their teens develop addiction. xiii
  •  Nationally, in 2011, 872,000 persons reported receiving treatment for marijuana use. xiv

Marijuana Use is NOT Harmless:

Marijuana is a harmful drug. It is stronger than in the past, contains dangerous chemicals, and can be laced with other drugs. Teens who use marijuana can’t know for sure what they are putting into their bodies and how it will affect them.

  • Today’s marijuana is far more potent: The average THC content in marijuana has risen from under 4% in 1983 to more than 10% in 2008. xv
  • Greater marijuana potency means a smaller amount can make someone higher, faster and perhaps far more intoxicated than they can handle. xvi
  • Marijuana users risk exposure to dangerous pesticides which pose a significant risk to human health. xvii

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 Ashbridge, M. & Hayden, JA (2012) Acute Cannabis Consumption and Motor Vehicle Collision Risk: Systematic Review of Observational Studies and Meta‐analysis. British Medical Journal, 344:e356.
ii Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2011:National Estimates of
Drug‐Related Emergency Department Visits. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13‐4760,DAWN Series D‐39. Rockville, MD:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013
iii Hayatbakhsh, M.R. et al. (2007) Cannabis and anxiety and depression in young adults: A large prospective study. Journal
of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 46(3):408‐17.
iv Patton, GC et al. (2002) Cannabis use and mental health in young people: cohort study. British Medical Journal,
v Meier, MH et. al (2012) Persistent Cannabis Users Show Neuropsychological Decline from Childhood to Midlife.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109(40) e2657‐e2664.
vi Jacobus, J., Bava, S. et. al. (2009) Functional Consequences of Marijuana Use in Adolescents. Pharmacology,
Biochemistry and Behavior 92(4).
vii Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets ‐ Cannabis / Marijuana ( D 9 ‐Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC). National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, n.d. Accessed at: .
viii The British Lung Foundation (2012) The Impact of Cannabis on Your Lungs. Accessed at:‐9b7e‐49d9‐b3b1‐a07e00f11c05/The‐impact‐of‐cannabis‐on‐your‐lungs‐‐‐BLFreport‐
ix Lacson, J., Carroll, J., Tuazon, E., Castelao, E., Bernstein, L., & Cortessis, V. (2012). Population –based case‐control study
of recreational drug use and testis cancer risk confirms an association between marijuana use and nonseminoma risk.
Cancer, 118(21) 5374‐5383.
x Meier, MH et. al (2012) Persistent Cannabis Users Show Neuropsychological Decline from Childhood to Midlife.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109(40) e2657‐e2664.
xi Solowij N, Stephens RS, Roffman RA, et al. (2002) Cognitive Functioning of Long‐term Heavy Cannabis Users Seeking
Treatment. JAMA, 287(9):1123‐1131.
xii Gfroerer, JC, Wu, LT., & Penne, MA. (2002). Initiation of Marijuana Use: Trends, Patterns, and Implications (Analytic
Series: A‐17, DHHS Publication No. SMA 02‐3711). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration, Office of Applied Studies.
xiii Wagner, FA & Anthony, JC (2002) From first drug use to drug dependence; developmental periods of risk for
dependence upon cannabis, cocaine, and alcohol. Neuropsychopharmacology 26(4), 479‐488.
xiv 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.
xv Mehmedic Z, et al (2010) Potency Trends of r9‐THC and Other Cannabinoids in Confiscated Cannabis Preparations from
1993 to 2008. Journal of Forensic Science, 55(5):1209‐17.
xvi ibid
xvii U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California (2012) Environmental Charges Filed in Marijuana Cultivation
Cases. News: September 27, 2012 Accessed at:‐2012/09‐27‐