shutterstock_141948142-5 - Version 2Marijuana: it’s effects are not what you think.

At ADSGC, here’s what we have learned from youth we work with

  • Alcohol and Marijuana often serve as the gateway to other drugs.
  • 90% of the youth we see may receive criminal justice consequences after being caught with alcohol and tobacco but they tell us they are  also using other mind-altering substances like marijuana and prescription medications.
  • Many youth are self-medicating to help themselves deal with trauma, with change, with bullying. Yes, bullying is a real problem.
  • With marijuana, there are more psychotic episodes because the THC is so high.
  • Youth experience intense social pressure to party. We hear, “everyone’s doing it.”  Our 18 and over Minor in Possession clients tell us the party is on, Tuesday through Sunday evenings.
  • Youth drive to Colorado to party and then drive back. Studies have shown diversion of marijuana from state medical marijuana programs to non-medical adolescent use
  • Who you hang out with matters. Adolescents risk legal consequences based on being present when illegal substances are in use. We ask, how do you effectively talk with family members, friends and room mates who are using? That’s a tough one for youth to handle.

There’s A LOT of contradictory information about marijuana out there.

  • Most research & adult experience is from a time when the THC was significantly lower.  The problem is, adult attitudes & behaviors strongly influence youth marijuana use. So adult misinformation matters.
  • There’s not enough known about how marijuana use affects the developing brain. Research has shown that there is clear harm and risks for those who use regularly and there may be long-term cognitive impairment, including lowered IQ.

Here are some research-based facts about marijuana use.

  • It is the most commonly used illegal substance by youth
  • Decisions about use is strongly influenced by other youth.
  • Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs. Frequent smokers can have similar breathing problems to those who smoke.
  • It increases the heart rate for up to 3 hours after smoking and it may increase the chance for heart attack.
  • Short term cognitive impairment can effect school performance and increase the likelihood  of dropping out of school.
  • It causes temporary hallucinations and paranoia along with psychotic symptoms and disorders.
  • It is linked with mental illness and depression.
  • Long term users report withdrawl symptoms when they stop using.
  • Marijuana use can be addictive.
  • Early (before age 15) and long term use increase all health risks (see above).  Those adverse effects may be irreversible.
  • Marijuana impairs coordination and reaction time so poses a safety hazard for all activities requiring motor control & coordination. It is the most common drug, beside alcohol, found in car crashes, injuries & fatalities.
  • In Montana, it is illegal. If arrested, a criminal record can have significant, long-term impacts on future educational and  employment opportunities.


There’s a lot of misinformation on the internet. The following resources offer a credible, science-based, starting point for your research.

National Institute of Drug Abuse articles

Video, Your Brain on Drugs: Marijuana