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The following information comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Myth:  Marijuana is harmless.
Fact:  In the short-term, marijuana can cause problems with learning and memory, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), poor coordination, and increased heart rate.  The impact varies because of biology (genetic makeup), marijuana’s potency, how the drug in used (smoked versus ingested) and whether alcohol or other drugs are involved.

Compared to those who don't use marijuana, those who frequently use large amounts report the following:

  • lower life satisfaction
  • poorer mental health
  • poorer physical health
  • more relationship problems

Myth:  Marijuana is not addictive.
Marijuana use can lead to the development of a substance use disorder, a medical illness in which the person is unable to stop using even though it's causing health and social problems in their life. A severe substance use disorder can develop into addiction in severe cases.

Many people who use marijuana long term and are trying to quit report mild withdrawal symptoms that make quitting difficult. These include:

  • grouchiness
  • sleeplessness
  • decreased appetite
  • anxiety
  • cravings

Myth: You can’t overdose on marijuana.
Fact: While there have been no reports of someone dying from using too much marijuana, some people who use marijuana can feel some very uncomfortable side effects, especially when using marijuana products with high THC levels. People have reported symptoms such as anxiety and paranoia, and in rare cases, an extreme psychotic reaction (which can include delusions and hallucinations) that can lead them to seek treatment in an emergency room.

Myth:  Marijuana won’t hurt my grades.
Marijuana use may interfere with your education because of its negative effects on attention, memory and learning.  It may be difficult to learn something new or do complex tasks that require focus and concentration while using marijuana.

Myth: Since marijuana is legal in Washington if you are 21, using it won’t hurt my chances for employment.
If you are required to take a drug test as a condition of employment, marijuana will impact your ability to be hired for federal positions or as a contractor for the federal government.  Many non-federal positions also require drug testing.

Marijuana is illegal under federal law even in states that legalize it.  The federal government classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, meaning it is perceived to have no medical value and a high potential for abuse.