Marijuana & Health
Marijuana—also known as pot, weed, bud, grass, reefer, herb, or Mary Jane—is mixture of dried leaves, stems, and flowers of the cannabis plant. The active component in cannabis is called THC; this is what produces the “high” feeling associated with using marijuana. The chemical content and THC potency vary based on the type of marijuana product and how it is used. People use marijuana in a number of ways. It can be smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints), pipes, water pipes (bongs), or cigars (blunts). It can be consumed in food, such as in brownies or cookies, commonly called “edibles.” A newer method of using marijuana is vaping, which often involves the use of devices like e-cigarettes. Another method growing in popularity is “dabbing.” When users “dab,” they inhale cannabis vapor from concentrates, oils or extracts using a “dab rig,” which delivers a very strong dose of THC in a very short period of time.
In November of 2012, Washington State voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults over age 21. The first recreational marijuana stores opened July 8, 2014. Adults are now legally allowed to purchase and possess limited amounts of marijuana for recreational use (see below for specific quantities). Medical marijuana guidelines can be found on the Washington State Department of Health’s website.
The law only applies to adults age 21 or older—it is still illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess any amount of recreational marijuana. Youth can face legal consequences if they are caught with marijuana.
Youth & Marijuana
Brains are continuing to develop until age 25, so marijuana can affect youth very differently than adults.
Youth who use marijuana may be more likely to experience:
- Problems with learning, memory and concentration
- Distorted thinking and perception (exaggerated or irrational thoughts)
Marijuana is addictive. Youth who use marijuana frequently, start using at a younger age, and use for longer periods of time are more likely to develop dependence.
Marijuana use can negatively impact school performance. Youth who use marijuana are more likely to have lower grades and problems in school.
Most youth don’t use marijuana!
- 75% of Snohomish County 10th graders —that's 3 out of 4—have never tried marijuana!
You can find more information about teens and marijuana use @ youcanwa.org.
Parents – What You Need to Know
Parents have an incredibly important role to play in helping their kids say “no” to marijuana. One of the main reasons teens choose not to use drugs is because they know their parents don’t approve!
- In 2016, 25% of Snohomish County 10th graders said they had ever tried marijuana, while only 16% said they had used it in the past month. However, nearly half (48%) of Snohomish County 10th graders said they perceived marijuana as easy to get, and almost 1 in 3 (30%) do not think regular marijuana use is harmful.
What can you do?
- Start talking early! Teens who use marijuana often start by age 14.
- Set clear, specific family rules around marijuana. Discuss these expectations often!
- Be open and honest about the risks of marijuana, and why you want to help them stay healthy.
- Role play with your child to help them practice saying “no” to drugs.
- Check out these helpful resources for more information!
- Seattle Children’s & The Social Development Research Group: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Marijuana Use
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ Marijuana Talk Kit
- Washington Healthy Youth Coalition: Start Talking Now
Safe & Responsible Adult Use
Adults age 21+ can legally purchase & possess:
- 1 ounce of usable marijuana
- 16 ounces of marijuana-infused edibles
- 72 ounces of marijuana in liquid form
- 7 grams of marijuana concentrates
AND . . .
- It is illegal to consume marijuana in any form in public
- It is illegal to take marijuana outside of Washington State
- It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana
- Open container laws apply to marijuana too! While driving, marijuana products must be kept out of reach, must be un-opened and in their original packaging
- Providing marijuana to anyone under 21—even your own children, in your own home—is a felony
How to Get Help
For more Washington State information about a wide range of marijuana-related topics, including factsheets for parents and teens, visit http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/.