Marijuana (also known as cannabis, weed, or pot) is the leaves, stems, seeds, and dried, crushed flowers of a cannabis plant. There are over 100 chemicals in the cannabis plant called cannabinoids. The most common cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
- Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a mind-altering chemical in marijuana. THC is what makes users high.
- Marijuana also contains the chemical cannabidiol (CBD). It does not make users high.
How It Is Used
The most common way people use marijuana is by smoking, eating, or drinking it. There are different ways to do each of these.
- Joint: a rolled marijuana cigarette
- Blunt: a rolled marijuana cigar
- Bong: a water-filled device used to filter and cool marijuana smoke
- Hand pipe: small handheld device used to burn marijuana. Often called a bowl.
- Vape pens: a handheld device that looks like an ink pen or USB drive that is used for vaping. It turns marijuana oil into a vapor that can be smoked.
- Dab: a highly concentrated form of marijuana that looks gummy or like wax. It is used with a special type of bong called an oil rig to make a vapor that is breathed in (inhaled).
Eating or Drinking
- Edible: food, usually candy or dessert, that have heated up (cooked) marijuana in it (Picture 1)
- Tea: marijuana is brewed and drank like tea
- Capsule or pill: marijuana that is taken in pill form
- Tincture: liquid marijuana that’s put in the mouth using a dropper
Signs and Symptoms
Signs of marijuana use is different for each person. Some common signs are:
- Red eyes
- Weight gain
- More tired
- Skunk-like smell on clothes or hair
- Bad coordination
- Less or no energy
- Dry mouth
- Poor judgment
Items to Look For
If you think your child might be using marijuana, look for these items they may have:
What to Do
- Have regular, open conversations with your child. Make sure to ask questions and listen. Discuss the risks of marijuana (above), and related issues like peer pressure, stress, and healthy ways to cope with problems.
- Get to know your children’s friends. Most children and teens that use marijuana say they tried it first with a friend.
- Encourage positive activities like sports, music, religious group, or a part-time job.
- Look at what your child is posting online. They may have posted about using marijuana on social media.
- Your child may benefit from meeting with a behavioral health professional. Their family doctor or health care provider can provide a referral.
Marijuana has many health and lifestyle risks. Some examples are:
- Short-term memory problems
- Lung conditions or breathing problems
- Addiction – feeling like you need marijuana and want it more and more
- Withdrawal – when you stop using marijuana and feel cranky, sad, or anxious. Users may also have sleeping problems if they’re going through withdrawal.
- Mental health disorders – a higher chance of mood and anxiety problems, or thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Slower reaction time and hand-eye coordination
- Poisoning – children may mistake edibles as regular food or candy. Edibles can make
them very sick.
- Drug tests – THC does show up on drug tests. This could lead to losing a job.
- Pregnancy – smoking marijuana while pregnant may cause a baby to be born early (premature). The baby may weigh less than other babies when born.
Marijuana comes in many forms. Things like candies or deserts can put children at higher risk for accidentally eating or drinking marijuana. If children get marijuana in their body, they can have serious symptoms like:
- Staggered walking or stumbling (unsteady gait)
- Not speaking normally or clearly
- Throwing up (vomiting)
- Black part of their eye(s) is bigger than normal (dilated pupils)
- Breathing slowly
- Seeming tired and weak
To keep your child from using marijuana by mistake:
- Know where marijuana products are in your home. Check them each day to make sure the same amount you left is still there.
- Keep marijuana stored in a locked cabinet or box out of the reach and sight of children and pets. Do not leave marijuana around food or drinks in the kitchen.
- Talk to your child about the dangers of drug use, including special-ordered (prescribed) medicines. Talk openly with family, friends, and people your child visits to ask if they have any marijuana products. If they do, ask them to safely store marijuana away when your child is around.
HH-IV-261 • ©2022, revised 2023 • Nationwide Children's Hospital