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Marijuana

Drug Information

Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds. THC acts on specific brain cell receptors that ordinarily react to natural THC-like chemicals. The amount of THC in marijuana has been increasing in recent decades, and may put users at a higher risk for addiction. Extracts can also be made from the cannabis plant. Marijuana can be smoked, vaporized and inhaled, or mixed into food known as “edibles”. A newly popular method of use is smoking or eating different forms of THC-rich resins. Smoking these THC-rich (as high as 95% THC) resins is known as dabbing. These extracts come in various forms such as:

  • hash oil or honey oil—a gooey liquid
  • wax or budder—a soft solid, like lip balm
  • shatter—a hard, amber-colored solid

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.1 According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 49.6 million Americans misused marijuana in the past year. Its use is more prevalent among yound adults, with the percentage of people who used marijuana in the past year being highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (34.5%) compared with 16.3% of adults aged 26 or older and 10.1% of adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Physical Signs

  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty with thinking and problem solving
  • Poor muscle and limb coordination
  • Red, glassy eyes
  • Delayed reaction times and abilities

Other Signs

  • Decreased involvement or interest in usual activities
  • Increased hunger
  • Misjudging time
  • Drop in academic performance
  • Distinct strong smell, different from tobacco

Health Consequences

The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. To date, the FDA has not approved a marketing application for cannabis for the treatment of any disease or condition. The FDA has, however, approved one cannabis-derived and three cannabis-related drug products. These approved products are only available with a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.

The FDA has approved Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of the drug substance CBD for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients 1 years of age and older. It has also approved Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex in patients 1 year of age or older. That means FDA has concluded that this particular drug product is safe and effective for its intended use.

The agency also has approved Marinol and Syndros for therapeutic uses in the United States, including for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients. Marinol and Syndros include the active ingredient dronabinol, a synthetic delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is considered the psychoactive component of cannabis. Another FDA-approved drug, Cesamet, contains the active ingredient nabilone, which has a chemical structure similar to THC and is synthetically derived.

Source: FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD). January 2021. U.S. Food & Drug Administration.


Policy

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under Idaho Law. It is illegal for any person to manufacture, deliver, possess with intent to manufacture or deliver, or possess marijuana, which refers to all parts of the plants of the genus cannabis, including or any preparation of cannabis which contains tetrahydrocannabinol. It is illegal to publically use or be under the influence of marijuana.  Specific penalties for these acts can be found in Sections 37-2732 and 37-2732C of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

Recent Idaho Legislation

Possession By a Minor

2017: Senate Bill No. 1013
Repealed Idaho Code section 18-502C relating to possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia by a minor, the use of controlled substances, and fines due to conflict with Idaho Code section 20-505 and in order to promote uniformity when charging juveniles for possession of marijuana. Enacted March 27, 2017.


Prevention

Risk of drug use, including marijuana, greatly increases during times of transition.  The transition from childhood to adolescence presents new and challenging social, family, and academic situations at the same time they may be exposed to substances like alcohol and marijuana for the first time. Early use of drugs increases a person’s chance of becoming addicted and alters the brain, therefore preventing early use is important. Prevention strategies for the prevention of marijuana use include enforcement of laws, maintain marijuana as a Schedule I substance, media campaigns targeting youth and adults, especially parents of youth, reducing youth exposure to marijuana advertising in states where it is legal, and implementation of evidenced-based prevention programs.

Avoid Unsupervised After-School Time

Students who participate in 1 or more days of supervised after-school activities are less likely to have ever used marijuana. After-school activities provide:

  1. Supervision by positive adult role models
  2. Youth leadership opportunities
  3. Incorporation of skills building
  4. A piece of a comprehensive prevention plan

Understand Risk and Protective Factors

Addressing risk factors early and paying careful attention to children at higher risk can reduce that child’s likelihood of a future problem. This is a simplified list of some overall risk factors. Learn more at youth.gov

  1. Family history of substance use disorders
  2. Mental health or behavioral issues
  3. Trauma
  4. Impulse control problems

Protective factors may reduce the risk of youth engaging in substance use. Increasing protective factors in addition to reducing risk factors can be more effective in preventing substance use.

  1. Ability to make friends and get along with others
  2. Reliable support and discipline from caregivers
  3. Mastery of academic skills (math, reading, writing)
  4. School Engagement

These are simplified lists of some overall risk and protective factors. Learn more at youth.gov

Set the Stage for a Conversation

  • ODP’s BeTheParents campaign provides parents and caregivers with resources and information to help start and maintain communication with children and teens about the dangers of alcohol and drug use. Visit betheparents.org
  • The Partnership for Drug Free Kids has a helpful guide for parents. Download it here.

Updated: December 15, 2021

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