People at Risk of Developing Problems with Marijuana
This information was prepared by the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre in Australia, and used with permission. Some information may not be accurate for U.S. readers.
Not everyone develops problems when using marijuana, but those who do can experience side-effects ranging from panic and anxiety when intoxicated, through to developing a dependency on marijuana after using the drug regularly over a period of time.
Although some people are more at risk of developing problems than others, these symptoms can and do arise at any stage of marijuana use.
People with a Mental Health Problem
There is much debate over whether marijuana itself actually causes a mental health problem. For some people, there are very strong associations between the use of marijuana and either developing some mental health symptoms or making a condition they may already have worse.
Marijuana use has been linked to the following mental health conditions:
- Depression and anxiety;
- Psychotic episodes;
People already diagnosed or experiencing symptoms related to any of these conditions should avoid using marijuana. If they do use the drug, they should talk to their doctor or health care worker about their marijuana use. This also applies to anyone who uses marijuana and has a family history of mental illness.
For more information, see our factsheet on Mental Health and Marijuana.
Generally speaking, if a person starts smoking marijuana at an early age (i.e., early adolescence) and uses marijuana frequently, they are more likely to experience negative consequences.
Young people using marijuana are at greater risk of:
- Developing mental health problems;
- Becoming dependent on marijuana;
- General life problems;
- Relationship and home conflicts;
- Leaving home early;
- Difficulty with memory and learning;
- Dropping out from study or work;
- Financial difficulties;
- Legal issues.
For more information, see our factsheet on Adolescents and Marijuana.
The following factors may increase the risk of developing problems with marijuana use:
- Frequent use at a young age;
- Emotional stress;
- Poor parenting;
- School drop-out;
- Affiliation with drug-using peers;
- Moving away from home at an early age;
- Daily cigarette smoking;
- Having ready access to marijuana;
- Having positive experiences to early marijuana use.