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Marijuana/Cannabis 101

What you need to know:

Marijuana is a widely used drug that can be smoked or can be found in the form of edibles. The chemicals found in marijuana are called cannabinoids. THC is the cannabinoid that can make a person feel “high.” Another chemical found in marijuana is called CBD. CBD is legal and generally considered safe. However, it does have minor side effects that include fatigue and diarrhea and it might interact with other medications. A medical professional should be consulted prior to using CBD. In Massachusetts, marijuana is currently legal for medicinal use and adult recreational use.

A medical professional should be consulted prior to using CBD

There are several ways that people smoke marijuana including hand-rolled cigarettes, joints, or blunts, glass pipes or water pipes, or through a vaporizer. Marijuana can be brewed with tea or cooked into food, such as brownies, cookies, or candy, which are called “edibles.”

Some of the short-term effects of marijuana use include altered senses or sense of time, change in moods, having a hard time thinking or problem-solving, and memory problems. When marijuana is used in high amounts, some people might experience hallucinations, delusions or other symptoms of psychosis.

What are the risks?

There are documented health risks to marijuana use. For those who use more often, there may be both short-term and long-term effects on attention, memory and learning abilities. Marijuana has been linked to mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts in teens. More research is needed on this topic.

An overdose from marijuana is highly unlikely. However, it is possible to have a bad reaction to marijuana which may result in confusion, anxiety, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, severe nausea or vomiting amongst others. Sometimes marijuana is laced with other drugs or chemicals, unbeknownst to the user, and could cause acute reactions.

Marijuana can be problematic for some people who choose to use. Cannabis Use Disorder is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) V.


Know the data:


29% of youth have used marijuana in their lifetime, and 20% used marijuana in the past 30 days. Additionally, 65% of youth report that marijuana is “fairly easy” or “very easy” to obtain.


A survey conducted on adults in Massachusetts suggests that about 20% used marijuana in the past 30 days. More than half of adults surveyed also believe that marijuana has slight or no risks.


In 2013, there were 19.8 million current marijuana users compared to 14.5 million in 2007. More than half of new illicit drug users begin with marijuana.