Drug & Addiction InformationMarijuana

Is Marijuana Addictive?

What Is Marijuana?

According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction, marijuana, also called weed, grass, pot, chronic, bud, etc., refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, or any other part of the cannabis plant. The cannabis indica and cannabis sativa plant contain THC which has mind-altering effects when eaten or smoked.

What Is Addiction?

Is marijuana addictive? This is an argument that has been raging on for decades. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) Substance Abuse Criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association addiction is defined as a substance use pattern leading to three of the following occurrences over the course of a 12-month period:

  • 1. Tolerance defined by a diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the drug and a need for increased amounts of a substance to achieve the desired effect.
  • 2. Withdrawal charactered by negative side effects after discontinued use of the drug, leading to continued use to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
  • 3. If the substance is taken in larger doses or for longer periods of time than originally intended.
  • 4. Persistent desire to cut down on the use of the substance.
  • 5. Extended periods of time spent in an effort to obtain the drug or substance and using the substance.
  • 6. Important activities such as jobs or social events are discontinued or foregone because of the substance.
  • 7. Use is continued despite knowing the drug has caused or exacerbated significant physical or psychological damage.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

So is marijuana addictive? The argument can definitely be made from the above list that it is, or at the very least carries the risk of dependence (which is different from addiction). In fact, in 2015, over 4 million Americans met the criteria for what is known as marijuana use disorder, which is when a person cannot stop using the drug even when it interferes with certain aspects of their life. 

It is also important to remember that the potency of marijuana has been rising steadily since the early 90’s, and recently the introduction of oils and other concentrated forms of THC has increased the speed at which the drug can be introduced in to the body, raising concerns that the effects of marijuana could be worse than previously thought. Researchers are still not sure of the full range of short-term or long-term consequences associated with the brain being exposed to highly concentrated levels of THC.