Marijuana: What Parents Need to Know

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What It Is:Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. It is made from the shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp (Cannibis sativa) plant. It looks like green, brown, or gray dried parsley.

Marijuana is a mind-altering drug and is considered a hallucinogen if used in large amounts.

Sometimes Called:weed, grass, pot, chronic, joint, blunt, herb, cannabis, hashish, Mary Jane
How It's Used:Marijuana is smoked as a hand-rolled cigarette (called a joint or a nail), in a pipe, or water pipe (also known as a bong); it is sometimes smoked after being placed inside of hollowed-out cigars called blunts; mixed into foods; inhaled smokelessly with a vaporizer; or brewed as a tea.
What It Does:

Marijuana makes it hard to keep track of time and concentrate. Users have difficulty with memory and find it hard to solve problems and learn.

Marijuana raises heart rate and blood pressure. Some people get red eyes or dry mouths or become sleepy or very hungry. The drug can also make some people paranoid (like someone is out to hurt them or is plotting against them). It can also sometimes cause hallucinations.

Marijuana is as tough on the lungs as cigarettes — steady users suffer coughs, wheezing, frequent colds, and respiratory (airway and lung) infections, like bronchitis.

Sometimes blunts are filled with drugs like PCP (also called angel dust) or crack cocaine in addition to marijuana and can be very dangerous when smoked.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014

Related Resources

OrganizationPartnership for a Drugfree America This site features information about drugs and their effects and treatments. The site also shows paraphernalia associated with different drugs and includes personal stories.
Web SiteWeb of Addictions Web of Addictions provides information about alcohol and drug addictions.
OrganizationNational Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) NIDA offers a science-based drug abuse education program for students, news, information, and resources.

Related Articles

Drugs: What Parents Need to Know Knowing what drugs are out there, what they can do, and how they can affect someone is the first step in raising drug-free kids.
Talking to Your Child About Drugs Just as you inoculate your kids against illnesses like measles, you can help "immunize" them against drug use by giving them the facts now.
Cocaine & Crack: What Parents Need to Know Cocaine and crack are illegal drugs that produce an intense high and can cause a stroke, heart attack, or even death.

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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