Marijuana: What Parents Need to Know
What It Is: Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. It is made from the shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp (Cannibis sativa) plant. It looks like green, brown, or gray dried parsley.

Marijuana is a mind-altering drug and is considered a hallucinogen if taken in large amounts.

Sometimes Called: weed, grass, pot, chronic, joint, blunt, herb, cannabis, hashish, Mary Jane
How It's Used: Marijuana is smoked as a hand-rolled cigarette (called a joint or a nail), in a pipe, or water pipe (also known as a bong); it is sometimes smoked after being placed inside of hollowed-out cigars called blunts; mixed into foods; or brewed as a tea.
What It Does:

Marijuana makes it hard to keep track of time and concentrate. Users have difficulty with memory and find it hard to solve problems and learn.

Marijuana raises heart rate and blood pressure. Some people get red eyes or dry mouths or become sleepy or very hungry. The drug can also make some people paranoid (like someone is out to hurt them or is plotting against them). It can also sometimes cause hallucinations.

Marijuana is as tough on the lungs as cigarettes — steady users suffer coughs, wheezing, frequent colds, and respiratory (airway and lung) infections, like bronchitis.

Sometimes blunts are filled with drugs like PCP (also called angel dust) or crack cocaine in addition to marijuana and can be very dangerous when smoked.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: June 2010
Originally reviewed by: Ryan L. Redman, MD

Kids Health

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.