Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. But it is being approved for recreational use in more and more states.
People who use and abuse marijuana can become addicted to it, just like any other drug. This is called marijuana use disorder.
Modern Recovery is a drug and alcohol rehab center in Scottsdale, Arizona. We offer an accredited intensive outpatient drug treatment program. Our goal is to help our clients recover from a range of drug and alcohol addictions.
We are fully accredited through the Joint Commission. They have the highest national standards for addiction treatment. At Modern Recovery, we are committed to continually improving patient care.
We accept most major health insurance plans. Our clients travel from all over the United States to get treatment with our facility. Many of them stay at our on-site, substance-free, sober living facility.
You can learn more about the dangers of marijuana abuse here. Our cannabis addiction recovery program can help you or someone you love.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is the dried flower of cannabis plants. The scientific plant names are cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. It is greenish-gray in color.
Marijuana has a lot of street names including:
- Mary Jane
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Marijuana addiction is not exclusive to any particular group of people. Marijuana addiction is also called marijuana use disorder.
The 2019 National Survey of Drug Use & Health shows an increase in marijuana use in the following:
- Adults over the age of 26 years
- Adolescents aged 12-17 years
Almost 50% of people aged 12-17 getting addiction treatment are there for marijuana.
The most common methods of marijuana use are:
- Smoking hand-rolled cigarettes is called joints
- Inhaling marijuana smoke by using pipes and water pipes, known as bongs
- Smoking blunts (marijuana rolled in cigar wraps)
Marijuana can also be brewed into tea. It can be mixed into foods known as edibles. Usually as brownies, cookies, or candies. Edibles are often sold for medical purposes.
Vaporizers are increasingly used to consume or vape marijuana.
What Causes People to Get High From Using Marijuana?
The main psychoactive chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The common name is THC. This is what causes the intoxicating effects.
THC comes from resin produced by the leaves and buds of the female cannabis plant.
The plant also contains more than 500 other chemicals. This includes over 100 compounds that are chemically related to THC, called cannabinoids.
The legalization of marijuana in some states has led to increased production. People have started creating stronger forms of the drug. Stronger forms include Sinsemilla and concentrated resins.
A sinsemilla is a seedless form of marijuana believed to have originated in the highlands of southern Mexico. Sinsemilla is the name given to unfertilized female plants. When no seeds are produced the plant has more energy to create increased levels of THC.
Concentrated resins contain high doses of marijuana’s active ingredients. This includes honey-like hash oil. Resins are popular among those who use marijuana both recreationally and medically.
Is Marijuana a “Gateway” Drug?
Marijuana is commonly referred to as a gateway drug. People connect it to trying other substances after starting with marijuana. This could be alcohol, prescription opioids, or illicit drugs.
Marijuana is easy to get and affordable. It is now legal in some states. Because of this teenagers and children might start experimenting with marijuana.
But, most people who use marijuana do not go on to use other harder substances.
There is an alternative to the gateway drug idea. Young people who are vulnerable to drug use are more likely to start with a drug like marijuana.
Their social interactions after starting drugs will be with others who use drugs. This will increase their chances of trying other drugs.
Is There a Difference Between Marijuana & Cannabis?
Generally, there is no difference between marijuana and cannabis.
Now that products can be legally sold the terms are often used like so:
- Cannabis describes cannabis products in general
- Marijuana refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant
Marijuana: Street & Slang Names
As mentioned before, marijuana and cannabis have many street and slang names.
Interestingly, the names given seem to be generationally driven. Many of the street names come from the marijuana use of older generations. The newer, less familiar names tend to come from the younger generation.
Marijuana: Street & Slang Names
- Aunt Mary
- Mary Jane
- BC Bud
U.S. Social & Legal History of Marijuana
Historically, marijuana appears to come from the eastern world. In this area, it had ritualistic and medicinal uses. It was also popular for its use as a textile.
In the U.S., it was first used only for recreation because of its mind-altering capacity. Eventually, the use and abuse of marijuana became a public health crisis, and it was made illegal.
Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (1970).
This means that:
- Marijuana has a high potential for abuse
- There is no currently accepted medical use of marijuana in clinical treatment in the U.S.
- Marijuana is not seen as safe for use under medical supervision
Some states have allowed marijuana use for medicinal purposes and recreational use. Only the FDA has the authority to approve drugs for medicinal use at the federal level.
Individual State Legalization of Marijuana & Cannabis
Because of its legalization in certain states, many marijuana dispensaries are opening. The number of doctors who are professionally credentialed to prescribe it is increasing.
Whether or not marijuana becomes legal across the entire U.S. remains to be seen. However, the continual voting polls suggest this is far off in the future, if ever.
As of June, 2021, recreational marijuana is legal in 19 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Guam.
U.S. States with Legalized Recreational Use of Marijuana
- New Jersey
- South Dakota
- New York
- Washington, D.C.
- New Mexico
Each state that legalized the use of marijuana has its own rules for getting a license. Every business, anywhere in the U.S. that sells marijuana must have a license from the state to do so.
Marijuana sales are regulated and taxed by the states at varying rates.
Furthermore, each state has their own legislation regarding:
- The amount of marijuana an adult can legally possess
- If adults can grow their own marijuana plants, and
- How the tax revenue from marijuana sales is spent
Marijuana Use in Arizona
In 2020, Arizona voted (by around 60%) to legalize cannabis for all adults over the age of 21.
Soon after, the Arizona Department of Health Services began taking applications for licenses.
Arizona issued approvals on January 22, 2021. Sales started right away
Multiple states voted to pass recreational cannabis in the November 2020 elections. Arizona rolled out its sales program faster than any other state.
Companies already operating in the medical market could start selling to recreational customers.
The Arizona state government earned over $115 million in tax revenue on cannabis in just 7 months.
How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain?
When marijuana is smoked, THC passes from the lungs into the bloodstream.
The THC chemical then travels to all organs throughout the body, including the brain.
In the brain, THC attaches to the cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells. This changes the activity of those cells.
The brain’s cannabinoid receptors control several of its functions, such as:
- Thought (cognition)
- Sensory and time perception
- Coordinated movement
The state of euphoria or high is the result of huge amounts of dopamine releasing into the brain.
The Marijuana / Cannabis “High”
The psychoactive effects of using marijuana can vary between one person and the next.
Studies have reported people feeling:
- Happy or relaxed
- Time being extended
- Highly increased appetite
However, using marijuana can also result in the following:
However, using marijuana can also result in far less desirable effects, such as anxiety, confusion and panic.
How the user reacts to marijuana depends on a number of factors, including:
- The dose, strain, and potency of the marijuana used
- Method of use – whether it’s smoked, vaped, or ingested)
- Frequency – how often the user uses marijuana
- The user’s age, gender, and physiology
- Whether the user drinks alcohol or takes other drugs at the same time
Users’ Reported Effects & Experiences of Using Marijuana
Positive Effects / “High”
Negative & Unpleasant Effects
- High blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Paranoia / psychosis
- Increased sensitivity to light, color, sound, touch, taste, and smell
- Delusions and hallucinations
Negative reactions are more likely if the user is inexperienced or uses too much. Strong cannabis invariably triggers a stronger reaction.
How Long Does the High from Marijuana Last?
The high from marijuana / cannabis can last anywhere from 2 to 10 hours, depending on factors such as:
- How much is consumed
- The level of THC
- The user’s body weight, body fat percentage and metabolism
- Whether or not the user has recently eaten
- The user’s tolerance to marijuana (regular users will have developed a higher level of tolerance than those new to the drug)
Method of Marijuana Use on Duration of Effects
How quickly the user experiences the effects of marijuana depends on the method of use.
When someone smokes or vapes marijuana the effects start in 2-10 minutes. The THC enters the bloodstream through the lungs. The high peaks at about 10 minutes after use. The effects will last 1 to 3 hours, but sometimes up to 8 hours.
If someone is using edibles it will take longer to feel high. The marijuana has to go through the digestive system. They will start to feel the effects 30-60 minutes after eating the edible. The effects can last 2 hours, but some effects lasting 24 hours have been reported.
Another way to use marijuana is dabbing. This is when concentrated marijuana is smoked in a special pipe. Dabs have a higher level of THC. The effects will start immediately, and last 1 to 3 hours. Some users could feel the effects for a full day.
Why Marijuana Use Can Be Dangerous for Teenagers
The use of marijuana and cannabis products can be dangerous for teenagers. This is because their brain does not fully mature until the age of 25.
Any drug will have an increased impact on brains that are still developing.
State governments have sent confusing health messages to young people. In Arizona, for example, the legal age to use marijuana is only 21. Unfortunately, the same age limit exists for alcohol, too.
Furthermore, the marijuana legalization movement has added to this confusion. The message of marijuana’s health benefits leads teenagers to believe “If it’s medicine, it must be safe.”
The same was believed about prescription opioid painkillers. Now there is a national opioid epidemic.
Teenage Marijuana Use: Strong Warnings For Parents
Parents can share the following information about the dangers of marijuana. The information has come from medical research studies. Their children can make an informed decision about marijuana use.
Marijuana use during adolescence can have these short-term consequences:
- Difficulty learning, including retaining new information
- Accidental injury
- Auto accidents [see below]
- Risky sexual behavior, leading to sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Bronchitis, which can become chronic if marijuana use continues
Marijuana Addiction / Marijuana Use Disorder
Addiction to marijuana is possible, and it’s even more likely if using the drug begins prior to the age of 18.
According to the NIDA, almost 50% of rehab admission for those aged 12-17 years is for marijuana use.
Using marijuana impairs an individual’s judgment, alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. Driving while under the influence of marijuana can double a young driver’s risk of an auto accident. The risk is even higher if the individual consumes even small amounts of alcohol.
Existing Mental Illness
In people with a mental health issue, THC can cause the following:
- Panic attacks
- Acute psychosis
- Disorganized cognition
The risk of psychosis is greater if someone has a genetic risk factor.
Poorer Quality of Life
Students who use marijuana are statistically more likely than other non-using students to drop out of high school.
Additionally, later in life, they have been found to have:
- Lower salaries
- Less career success, and
- Lower life satisfaction.
It is believed this is associated with altered brain development and cognitive impairment.
Teenage Marijuana Use: Facts & Stats
A National Survey on drug use says marijuana use among U.S. teenagers has increased over the last 5 years. The survey was published in July 2021.
Illicit marijuana use is at its highest among U.S. teenagers and college-aged young adults.
According to the same survey, in 2019, there was a significant increase in daily use in the younger grades.
U.S. teenagers’ perceptions of the risks of marijuana use have declined over the past decade.
The popularity of vaping devices has grown. Teens have started vaping THC, with nearly 4% of 12th graders saying they vape THC daily.
Lastly, medical emergencies related to marijuana use have also increased.
U.S. Teenage Marijuana Use: 2019
Past Month / Current
Furthermore, 6.4% of 12th Graders stated they used marijuana daily or near-daily.
With the growing popularity of vaping devices, teens have started vaping THC (the ingredient in marijuana that produces the high), with nearly 4% of 12th Graders saying they vape THC daily.
Lastly, medical emergencies related to marijuana use have also increased.
Resources for Parents of Teenagers Who Use Marijuana
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
Short & Long Term Effects of Marijuana Use & Abuse
The use of marijuana creates many short-term psychological and physical effects in users.
Long-term use of the drug can lead to an addiction. The medical term for this addiction is marijuana use disorder.
Short-Term Effects of Marijuana Use: Physiological / Psychological / Behavioral
- Ataxia [see below]
- Increased sociability
- Heightened imagination
- Short-term memory impairment
- Reduced coordination
- Increased creativity
- Enhanced sensory perception
- Panic attacks
NOTE: Ataxia is a group of disorders that affect coordination, balance and speech, which can impede driving ability or lead to an increase in risk-taking behavior
At High Doses:
- Illusions / Delusions
- Paranoia / Psychosis
Short-Term Effects of Marijuana Use: Physical
- Dry mouth
- Facial flushing
- Increasedheart rate
- Increased appetite
- Coughing from lung irritation
- Increased blood pressure
Long Term Effects of Marijuana Use
Long-term marijuana smokers can have health problems later in life. Lung diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchial asthma.
All long-term marijuana users can experience the suppression of their immune systems. This makes them more at risk of infection, eg. respiratory infections and pneumonia.
Marijuana use during adolescence has been linked with long-term effects on the body. Medical research studies have shown several issues.
Those who used marijuana as a teen or young adult have altered brain development. Studies show that regular users have fewer neural fibers in some areas of the brain.
Frequent marijuana use during adolescence has been linked to lower IQs. Chronic marijuana use can also increase the risk of depression or anxiety.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says regular marijuana use causes physical symptoms:
- An increased heart rate for up to three hours after smoking, increasing the risk of a heart attack
- Child development issues both during and after pregnancy [see below]
- Intense nausea and vomiting, medically known as cannabis hyperemesis syndrome
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states regular marijuana use is linked to other physical symptoms, including:
- An increased heart rate for up to three hours after smoking, increasing the risk of a heart attack
- Child development issues both during and after pregnancy [see below]
- Intense nausea and vomiting, medically known as “cannabis hyperemesis syndrome”
The Dangers of Marijuana Use During Pregnancy
Using any drug during pregnancy can have a potential impact on the health of the baby. It does not matter if it is a prescription medication or an illicit drug. Marijuana also can affect the health of the baby.
Some possible health issues from marijuana use during pregnancy include:
- Affecting brain development and function
- The child’s propensity to future drug use
- Attention issues
- Emotional functioning issues
- Problem-solving difficulties
- Behavior regulation issues
- Language developmental difficulties
- Future academic difficulties
Marijuana & Cannabis Use in the U.S: Facts & Stats
U.S. Marijuana Use by Age: 2019
The largest group of current marijuana users in the U.S. are 18 – 29-year-olds (22%).
- 18 – 29 years: 22%
- 30 – 49 years: 11%
- 50 – 64 years: 12%
- 65+ years: 3%
NOTE: The following statistics have been reported (in part) previously in this article. In the interests of completeness, they are also provided here.
According to statistical data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- Marijuana is the 2nd most commonly used drug in the U.S. after alcohol
- In 2019, more than 31.5 million people aged 12 and up reported using marijuana in the past month.
- The 2019 National Survey of Drug Use & Health showed increases in marijuana use in adults over the age of 26. It also showed an increase in use among adolescents aged 12-17 years.
- Almost 50% of those aged 12-17 receiving substance use treatment is for marijuana.
- 11.8% of 8th graders reported using this drug within the last year during 2019
- 6.6% of them stated that they had used it within the last month
- 35.7% of 12th graders reported using the drug within the last year during 2019
- 22.3% stated that they had used it within the last month that year
- 4% of 12th graders report that they vape THC daily
- Every year, there are hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits due to marijuana
Recreational Marijuana Use in Arizona: Facts & Stats
Adding legal recreational marijuana to existing medical usage has been a financial success.
However, marijuana use in 8th to 12th grade is still increasing. This is shown by the latest results from the Arizona Youth Survey (2020).
It is believed that the 2020 results for marijuana use are lower than 2018 because of coronavirus. The 2020 marijuana use is still higher than 2016 use.
There were increases in the use of marijuana concentrates in both the 10th and 12th grades. This is a more dangerous substance than regular marijuana.
Arizona Teenage Marijuana Use: 2020 (including Concentrates & Edibles)
During your lifetime, have you
8th Grade (%)
10th Grade (%)
12th Grade (%)
Eg. wax pen / THC
oil, shatter, hash, etc
Eg. brownies, candy,
cookies, soda, etc
Marijuana Addiction & Rehab
Marijuana is the single most popular illicit drug in the United States. Almost 40% of adults report marijuana use at least once. Nearly half of high school seniors have used marijuana.
It is indeed virtually impossible to overdose on marijuana.
There have been no reported cases of marijuana overdose in the United States. Marijuana use can be a major factor in accidental deaths, such as fatal motor vehicle crashes.
Research suggests that marijuana does not have serious withdrawal effects like other drugs.
However, marijuana is considered by medical experts to be intensely psychologically addictive.
More than half of all regular marijuana users are believed to have a mental illness.
For many, marijuana is a form of self-medication. When they stop abusing the drug, their psychological symptoms will intensify again.
Drug treatment for marijuana addiction is available and can help people recover successfully. Yet, many marijuana users are unaware of this.
This can be somewhat explained by marijuana’s false reputation as being harmless. Many people also believe it is not addictive. The majority of users do not see a problem with using it. Or they cannot link the effects of their addiction to any sudden problems in their life.
What is Marijuana Use Disorder?
Becoming addicted to marijuana is not a rapid event. An addiction to meth or heroin can occur in a matter of weeks, even days. With marijuana, it is a far slower psychological and physical process.
Marijuana use disorder is also known as cannabis use disorder. It is becoming more and more widespread across the U.S.
With a marijuana addiction, people continue to use it even though it has a negative impact on their life.
Here is some proven information from research by Yale Medicine:
- Around 10% of people who begin smoking marijuana will become addicted
- Nearly one-third (30%) of current marijuana users meet the criteria for addiction
Marijuana addiction is not only possible – it is even more likely if using the drug begins before the age of 18.
Marijuana Use Disorder: Symptoms & Signs of Addiction
- Working while under the influence ofmarijuana
- Doing things you regret due to theinfluence of marijuana
- “Needing” marijuana to feel normal,happy, or productive
- Suffering financial problems due tomarijuana
- Being arrested but continuing to usemarijuana
- Relationship problems due tomarijuana use
- Spending all or most of your time high
- Excessive sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Short-term memory loss
- Hearing from loved ones that your marijuana use has become problematic
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Addiction to marijuana is not only possible – it’s even more likely if using the drug begins prior to the age of 18.
In fact, according to the NIDA, marijuana use disorder accounts for nearly 50% of admission for those aged 12-17 years who are currently receiving professional substance use disorder treatment (also known as drug rehab).
Professional Treatment for Marijuana Addiction
Marijuana does not cause intense physical withdrawal symptoms like other drugs. It also doesn’t last very long – only three days or so.
But, for someone addicted to marijuana, the psychological cravings can be overwhelming.
Is a Professional Drug Detox Necessary for Marijuana Withdrawal?
Many substances need a medically-assisted drug detox as the beginning of any treatment. Marijuana is not one of these. The withdrawal symptoms are not severe, or life-threatening in any way.
Stopping marijuana use does result in some withdrawal symptoms, listed below:
Marijuana Use Disorder: Withdrawal Symptoms
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Strong drug cravings
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Vivid dreams /nightmares
- Emotional instabilityand depression
- Poor sleep / sleepdisturbance
Fortunately, these and any other symptoms should be relatively mild and easily managed.
It is possible to ease the effects of these withdrawal symptoms using the following remedies:
- Taking warm baths
- Increasing water intake
- Reducing fat intake
- Reducing / eliminating caffeine intake
Marijuana Drug Rehab
Professional drug rehab is the single most effective option for treating marijuana addiction. At rehab, patients receive the professional evidence-based therapies needed. They can pursue sobriety in a supportive, safe, drug and alcohol-free setting.
The main goal of drug rehab is to determine what led to the drug use in the first place after the patient has been fully detoxed from marijuana.
Many people start using marijuana because they simply want help to relax or unwind at the end of a long day. But, many people also use it as a way to self-medicate. To stop the symptoms of a mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.
The presence of marijuana use disorder and a mental health disorder is a dual diagnosis. This can also be called a co-occurring disorder.
Half of all people who have a substance addiction also have a co-occurring disorder. Some are aware that they have them because they have been diagnosed.
Many people do not have a diagnosis. They only know that marijuana helps them to feel better, so they continue to use it.
It is critical to diagnose any co-occurring disorders during drug rehab. This allows the individual to get the treatment they need for both conditions at the same time. This results in a much higher rate of success in their recovery.
Professional evidence-based addiction treatment for marijuana use disorder should include:
- Individual Counseling Therapy. In therapy, patients explore the roots of their addiction. Such as the ways past experiences shape present behavior. They learn practical strategies for coping with ongoing cravings.
- Group therapy. Group counseling sessions are always held under the guidance of an addiction therapist. This form of therapy shows the patient they are not alone. It helps the patient to listen to peers in the same position.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is talking therapy. It can help patients manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave.
Does Health Insurance Cover Marijuana Rehab?
Many people are concerned about going to marijuana rehab for financial reasons. They may not think they have the money to cover such an expense.
They often do not realize that their health insurance covers addiction treatment. The Affordable Care Act requires all health insurance providers to cover addiction treatment.
The costs for an outpatient program should be covered in full by the insurer.
But, every policy is different. People need to check with their insurance providers. At Modern Recovery, we work with many different health insurance companies. We would be happy to verify your insurance coverage.
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Modern Recovery Treats Marijuana Addiction
At Modern Recovery, we work with many people who suffer from marijuana addiction. A drug that can be difficult for people to stop using, even though they are not physically addicted.
Our drug rehab program is on an outpatient basis. We specialize in intensive outpatient treatment. This allows people the flexibility to live at home while they get the help they need.
We also offer sober living housing for people who may need it. We understand not everyone has a supportive family at home to help them stay on track.
Sober living offers them a safe, drug-free environment. A safe place to live while they get the treatment they need. This service is also available to those who are coming to our rehab from out of state.
Long-term, sustainable sobriety is the treatment goal. Ongoing support groups are a beneficial option and should be considered.
Staying away from marijuana use triggers can help patients stay sober after treatment. This could be social groups, places, or stressors connected to marijuana use.
Modern Recovery can help with any questions you may have about marijuana addiction. We can also answer questions about getting the right treatment. We can help you begin your recovery from marijuana addiction. Contact us today.
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- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Most Commonly Used Addictive Drugs. July, 2018. Available at DrugAbuse.gov.
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). U.S. National Survey of Drug Use & Health: 2019. September, 2020. Available at SAMHSA.gov.
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- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Learn About Marijuana Risks. August, 2021. Available at SAMHSA.gov.
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- Statista. Share of consumers in the United States who currently smoke marijuana as of July 2019, by age group. 2021. Available at Statista.com.
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- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Webcast Slides for the 2019 National Survey of Drug Use & Health. September, 2020. Available at SAMHSA.gov.
- Arizona Department of Health Services. Arizona Medical Marijuana Program August 2020 Monthly Report. 2021. Available at AzDHS.gov.
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