Is Marijuana Addictive?

Illegal narcotics taken for their stimulant effects are typically addictive. Marijuana, while still classified as an illicit drug, has numerous medicinal benefits. An estimated 9% of marijuana users develop an addiction to it. While current research methods have been unable to determine exact statistics on how many develop a disorder or addiction, what is clearer are the benefits of marijuana for patients who qualify and/or need cannabis-based medicines [1].

If you would like to know if medical marijuana is right for you, schedule an exam with one of our Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors. You may complete our easy, online eligibility survey in just 5 minutes to find out if you pre-qualify for a recommendation.

Preconceived Ideas About Marijuana Are Changing

Marijuana has been proven to be beneficial for people who suffer under certain medical conditions, including: nausea, intense vomiting, severe lack of appetite, and pain. Like other medications and supplements, marijuana has the potential to become addictive for some [1]. Widespread perceptions about marijuana have caused much room for debate, especially that it is a “gateway drug” which leads to the use of harder drugs. Questions about whether it can cause use disorders, including addictions, make marijuana one of the most often debated drugs. It is also one of the most widely available drugs due to its prevalence, ease of accessibility, and recent trends in legalization. Currently, marijuana has been legalized in 33 states, whether decriminalized, legal for medical use, or a combination of both [2]. As of 2019, about 9.5% of U.S. residents have reported their use of marijuana. As more people begin to use it as an alternative to drugs with harmful side effects, a societal shift in perceptions and knowledge about marijuana is taking place. While the slight possibility for addictions to form are real, those who use marijuana responsibly are living proof that the pros outweigh the cons [3]. 

Marijuana Use Disorder

Most who use medical marijuana do so with the goal to remedy a specific ailment and do not become addicted. They use the amount or dosage recommended when needed and do not feel compelled to overuse the drug. While it is possible to become dependent or addicted to marijuana, “The National Institute on Drug Abuse previously reported that about 1 in 7 marijuana users would develop problematic use with the drug. Now the agency is reporting that 30 percent of marijuana users will develop problems with its use, known as marijuana use disorder” [4]. Just as with other drug use disorders, people who continue to use marijuana in spite of continued negative consequences, by definition, have a marijuana use disorder. A use disorder can come in the form of either addiction or dependence. The following are typical signs of addiction:

  • Lack of control with an increasing need for larger amounts
  • An increase in the time spent thinking about using marijuana
  • Denial of accusations from close family and friends that a person has changed
  • Using marijuana becomes the ultimate and central focus of one’s life
  • Increased time and money spent seeking more marijuana
  • Experiences irritability or agitation if they run out
  • A spiral into further use in response to the negative circumstances caused by using

Addiction is associated with a physical dependence on marijuana marked by an increased tolerance to it, as well as withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person stops using it. Some may experience a psychological dependence to marijuana, though most people who use marijuana do not experience an unhealthy tolerance or withdrawal symptoms [5]. There are many factors that can play a part in how a person may become dependent on marijuana, and no two people are alike. For example, a marijuana study on identical twins compared the likelihood for one to become dependent over the other based on when they started using. The study concluded that the twin who began using before the age of 17 was more likely to develop a use disorder than the twin who did not begin using at an early age. In summary, marijuana use disorder escalates to addiction when, as marijuana becomes an interference to a balanced and healthy lifestyle, a person is unable to stop using it [6].

Is medical marijuana right for me?

Whether medical marijuana will help your condition depends on many factors best evaluated by a medical doctor. If you feel you may benefit from medical marijuana, the first step is to take our eligibility survey. In just 5 minutes, you could pre-qualify for a recommendation. A Florida Medical Marijuana Doctor can then determine if you qualify during an in-person exam. For more information, visit https://docmj.com

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/is-weed-addictive#side-effects
  2. https://disa.com/map-of-marijuana-legality-by-state
  3. https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/marijuana-addiction/faq/is-marijuana-addictive/#gref
  4. https://www.verywellmind.com/is-marijuana-addictive-67792
  5. https://www.verywellmind.com/can-people-become-addicted-to-marijuana-63536
  6. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive