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Marijuana Symptoms and Signs

While plenty of adults of all ages smoke marijuana, they are grown up and responsible for their own actions and behavior. Adolescents, on the other hand, are impressionable and easily swayed by peer pressure. They are not yet adults, so parents have a legal and moral obligation to look out for their best interests, and to seek help for their marijuana addiction if needed. There are classic red flags parents should look for if they suspect their teens are smoking marijuana. The following are possible signs of marijuana use.1,2

  • Acting inappropriately giddy (e.g. laughing uncontrollably)
  • Eating ravenously
  • Newfound interest in baking brownies
  • Chronic bloodshot eyes and/or bad breath
  • Excessive use of breath mints, chewing gum and eye drops
  • Slacking off on responsibilities
  • Lethargy or listlessness
  • Poor attention span
  • Appearing stoned
  • Sudden drop in academic performance
  • Signs of depression or isolation
  • Abrupt change in friends
  • A sudden need for more money
  • Presence of small burns on the thumb and forefinger
  • Heavy use of incense in the bedroom
  • Drug paraphernalia in bedroom, backpack or purse (e.g. rolling papers, pipes, roach clips and bongs)

Parents should be concerned because marijuana abuse can lead to short- and long-term negative health consequences. In addition to the above symptoms, short-term issues may include balance and coordination problems and increased heart rate. Long-term problems may include weight gain/obesity, chronic cough and frequent respiratory infections.1 Verbal learning, memory, attention and psychomotor skills are seriously impaired during acute marijuana intoxication, however, diminished functions may also be detected in chronic users.3 A recent study showed that people who start using marijuana on a regular basis as teenagers can lose an average of eight IQ points. Moreover, these points are not regained even after people stop using the drug.4

Driving While on Marijuana

Driving while high on marijuana is every bit as reckless as driving under the influence of alcohol. Many people use alcohol and marijuana together, which makes driving even more dangerous. Driving after marijuana use doubles the risk of motor vehicle accidents, although researchers theorize that personality factors that predispose people to marijuana use may correlate with reckless driving.3

  1. Commonly Abused Drugs Charts. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Updated April 2016. Accessed October 5, 2016.
  2. Signs of Pot Use in Teens, From Breath Mints to Burns. Elements Behavioral Health website. Accessed October 5, 2016.
  3. Andrade C. Cannabis and neuropsychiatry, 1: benefits and risks. J Clin Psychiatry. 2016 May;77(5):e551-4. doi: 10.4088/JCP.16f10841.
  4. Effects of Marijuana on Brains and Bodies. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Accessed October 5, 2016.


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