How Risky is Marijuana?



People today have the perception that Marijuana is not harmful, and this has led to its legalization for medical and recreational purposes in many states. Most people think that it’s no worse than alcohol and tobacco in general. But the facts are now showing the real risk of regular marijuana use; especially for youth, who are showing a big rise in use. (38% of high school students report having, trying or using marijuana.)

According to two of the nation’s authorities (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on public health, using marijuana carries real risks for your health and quality of life.

First, today’s marijuana is stronger than that of 25 years ago with THC (the mind-altering chemical in marijuana) levels that are at least 3 times than those of decades past. We now know today’s marijuana is addictive. The incidence of addiction increases among those who start using at a young age (an estimated 17 percent develop addiction) and among people who use the drug daily (an estimated 25-50 percent become addicted). This is alarming since 38% of high school students report having used marijuana in their life.

In severe cases, psychosis has been seen in teens already at higher risk because of a family history of use. Psychosis and schizophrenia are also linked to daily marijuana use in people with an existing genetic vulnerability. Marijuana use is now the most common reason people enter a treatment center for Substance Use Disorder.

Now, here are the real risks to our kids. Three areas of concern with marijuana use are the potential harms that affect the teen brain, school and social life, and their future goals.

Using marijuana affects youth brain development and has been linked to a decline in IQ scores – up to 8 points! Regular use can affect your memory, learning, concentration, and attention. This creates difficulty with thinking and problem solving which leads to a decline in school performance.

Frequent or long-term marijuana use is linked to:

  • Lower life satisfaction
  • School dropout rates
  • Lower educational achievement
  • Diminished athletic performance
  • Lower motivation
  • Marijuana addiction

In addition to the risks above, marijuana use has been linked to depression, anxiety and suicide thoughts in teenagers. Research shows that 1 in 6 teens who repeatedly use marijuana can become addicted, which means that they may give up important activities with friends and family in favor of using marijuana.

The risks are real. Marijuana use in adolescence or early adulthood (up to 25 years of age) can have a serious impact on a young life. Let’s Get in the Way of youth marijuana use and as we give our kids important life skills so they can discover who they truly are and reach their full potential.

You can Get in the Way by:

  • Building a warm, supportive relationship with your teen.
  • Monitor, supervise and set boundaries (Boundary = No Use Policy)
  • Have ongoing conversations and provide information on marijuana risks.

The WOW Coalition is a prevention association that promotes safe and healthy choices and responds to problems caused by alcohol, marijuana and Rx abuse by implementing strategies to prevent and reduce youth substance use. For additional information visit or contact at (623) 208-3230 or email: