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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. 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

THC acts on specific brain cell receptors that ordinarily react to natural THC-like chemicals. The amount of THC in marijuana has been increasing over the past few decades, and may put users at a higher risk for addiction. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.1 Its use is widespread among young people. In 2015, more than 11 million young adults ages 18 to 25 used marijuana in the past year (NSDUH, 2015). Visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse to learn more about marijuana and marijuana extracts.

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. More and more states are making it legal to use the plant as medicine for certain conditions. But there isn’t enough research to show that the whole plant works to treat or cure these conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine because there have not been large scale clinical trials showing the medicinal value of marijuana outweighs the risk to patients.

The FDA has however, approved one specific drug product that contains the purified substance cannabidiol, one of more than 80 active chemicals in marijuana, for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients 2 years of age and older. Learn more about CBD here.

A recent four-year study found that among people with chronic non-cancer pain who had been prescribed opioids, those who used cannabis had greater pain and lower self-efficacy in managing pain. There was also no evidence that cannabis use reduced pain severity or resulted in less opioid use. Studies that have suggested that medical marijuana can decrease opioid abuse and misuse problems are population-based and can’t show that medical marijuana legalization caused the decrease in deaths or that pain patients changed their drug-taking behavior. Learn more from the NIDA.


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.


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

  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

Set the Stage for a Conversation

  • ODP’s Be the Parents campaign developed conversation cards, a fun way for parents and kids to engage in open and positive communication. Order them here.
  • Download the 30-day Challenge – a way to stay engaged with youth and create more opportunities for conversation.
  • The Partnership for Drug Free Kids has a helpful guide for parents. Download it here.

Page last reviewed: January 18, 2021

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