Is Marijuana Addictive?

To leave doubts, in this article we will explain if the marijuana is addictive or not and we will expose the main effects that originates in the brain when it consumes.

Marijuana is a psychoactive substance that as such gives rise to a series of effects on the brain when consumed.

Is Marijuana Addictive

However, the effects and consequences of this drug currently cause some confusion in society.

There are those who defend their consumption taking into account certain therapeutic effects that it produces and there are those who criticize it for the harmful effects it causes and for acting as a risk factor for various diseases.

The same thing happens with regard to the addictive components of marijuana, since there are people who claim not to be addictive drugs and there are people who say that it is.

Can marijuana lead to addiction?

Marijuana is a green mixture of crushed leaves, stems, seeds and dried flowers extracted from the Cannabis Sativa plant and yes, it makes a drug that with its consumption can produce addiction.

With the passage of time, the overstimulation that produces the consumption of this doge in the endocanabinoid system can cause changes in the structure and functioning of the brain and can lead to the appearance of a substance addiction.

When addiction occurs, the consumer cannot stop using the drug and requires marijuana to experience a number of effects that become indispensable to their well-being.

This fact means that the person continues to consume marijuana despite knowing the negative effects that originates or even of perceiving the damages or damages that is originated directly on his body.

In addition, the addiction produced by this substance is very closely related to the withdrawal syndrome.

In this way, people who use marijuana in an incessant way can present a series of symptoms when they do not consume the drug.

These symptoms appear because of the brain’s need to function normally only when marijuana is used (addiction) and are characterized by irritability, difficulty sleeping, problems with temperament, lack of appetite, restlessness and / or physical discomfort.

Despite what has been commented so far, marijuana addiction deserves a number of specifications since the addictive response that produces the consumption of this drug is presented in a less clear way than in other types of substances.

Thus, addiction may not be seen in all people who use marijuana and may be subject to various factors.

What is addiction to marijuana addiction?

The fact that marijuana addiction creates controversy in society has its explanations.

In fact, I do not think anyone doubts the addictive potential of tobacco or cocaine, because anyone who has ever consumed it will quickly know that these substances produce addiction very easily.

However, there are people who smoke marijuana and do not experience addiction, so it can be postulated that this substance does not create addiction.

This claim is not true since, as we have seen earlier, marijuana can cause addiction, so it is an addictive drug.

However, the addictive potential may depend on different factors, which causes the discrepancy of opinions. For those who develop addiction it will be addictive and for those who do not.

Consumption pattern

The main factor that determines the addiction of marijuana lies in the type of consumption that is made.

That person who smokes a joint from time to time or who consumes marijuana periodically but not daily or in earnest will most likely not develop addiction to the substance.

To become addicted to marijuana, a high consumption of this substance (not periodic) must be made and must be consumed for years.

The effects of addiction do not appear with the first consumption, even if these are made several times a day, but they appear when this pattern of consumption is maintained for a few years.

Composition of marijuana

The other factor that determines the addiction of marijuana is its own composition and the assets that own the drug consumed.

Marijuana is composed of multiple substances but the main concentration falls into two cannabinoids: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

CBD is not a psychoactive substance and is believed to produce most of the therapeutic effects that marijuana provides.

It causes a sedative effect as it inhibits the transmission of nerve signals associated with pain, provides tranquility, can alleviate inflammation and reduces the growth of breast cancer cells in humans.

THC, on the other hand, is the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis, produces the major perceptual alterations that cause marijuana use, can produce euphoria, inhibit appetite and taste, and has been associated with the onset of psychotic disorders and addictive responses.

In this way, the more THC amounts the drug, the more addictive it will be and the more CBD it contains, the less addictive it will be.

The main component of pure cannabis is CBD (approximately 40%) while THC occurs in lesser amounts (approximately 20%).

However, the composition of marijuana is increasingly being modified prior to its commercialization, increasing the concentrations of THC to increase its addictive power.

Why is it considered an addictive drug?

Marijuana is a drug that can cause addiction with its use and, although not all consumers end up developing it, it is considered an addictive drug.

And is that the substances are considered addictive depending on their endogenous characteristics and not through the specific effects they perform on each person.

Tobacco also cannot become addictive in a person who smokes only 10 cigarettes in his life, but nonetheless is no longer an addictive substance.

The same thing happens with marijuana, which, despite possessing a smaller addictive potential, can lead to addiction.

Thus, the fact that a marijuana consumer does not develop addiction to the substance does not allow affirming that it is not addictive.

The endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system is the brain mechanism on which cannabinoids and, therefore, marijuana work.

It has been objectified that it is a very widespread system, with a relevant role in brain development and regulates fundamental functions such as appetite, energy metabolism, analgesia, motor control, various neuroendocrine, neurovegetative (temperature) processes or the system of brain reward

The CB1 receptor (one of the receptors of the endocannabinoid system) is located primarily in the cerebellum and hippocampus, and controls functions such as motor coordination and memory.

Modifying these receptors with marijuana use would explain the effects of in coordination and the difficulties in retaining information and / or remembering things that are experienced when using the substance.

Likewise, these receptors are also located in the cortex in relation to the regulation of cognitive functions, in the thalamus regulating mechanisms of pain and emotions, and in the hypothalamus regulating the appetite.

These latter locations of CB1 may explain other effects of marijuana use such as difficulties in rationalizing, inhibition of pain, emotional disturbance, and increased appetite.

Finally, it has been observed how this system modulates the activity of other neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, a fact that would explain why addiction can lead to marijuana use.

How many people are addicted to marijuana?

Marijuana is one of the drugs that have an earlier onset of consumption. The age of onset is estimated to be at 16 years on average, standing in the range of 13-18.

However, the risk of developing addiction and addiction is the lowest among drugs.

Thus, marijuana, despite being considered an addictive drug, is the one with the lowest potential for addiction.

It is estimated that about 10% of cannabis user’s end up developing drug dependence, and only 2 to 4% of people who use this substance develop addiction during the first two years.

These data show that marijuana is one of the drugs most consumed but it is also the least addictive, and requires prolonged consumption to cause dependence.

However, marijuana intoxication can trigger a series of effects directly, and when the person becomes addicted to the substance can present symptoms and serious alterations.

Marijuana Poisoning, Dependence, and Abstinence

Among the effects that marijuana consumption can cause, three distinct concepts must be distinguished: the clinical origin of intoxication, withdrawal symptoms, and the characteristics of marijuana addiction or addiction.

Intoxication refers to the direct effects that the drug causes when it consumes and the psychological state that the person acquires at the moment of ingesting marijuana.

Dependence is the concept used to explain the symptoms and manifestations that a person develops when he becomes addicted to marijuana.

Finally, abstinence is the name given to all those manifestations that a person addicted to marijuana when consuming the substance.


The psychoactive effects of marijuana begin a few minutes after smoking and last between one and two hours, although THC can remain in the body for much longer.

The acute effects of cannabis are very variable between people and depend on the dose, the THC content, the THC / CBD ratio and the form of administration.

The personality of the individual who consumes, expectations or previous experiences and the context in which the drug is used may also be factors that modulate its acute effects.

In general terms, cannabis use produces a two-phase effect. After an initial phase of stimulation, producing symptoms such as euphoria, well-being or increased perception, is followed by a phase where sedation, relaxation and drowsiness predominate.

Cannabis also produces a sharpening of visual, auditory and tactile perceptions, as well as a slight distortion of space and time.

Easy laughter, loquacity, increased appetite; intensified intercourse, decreased ability to concentrate, memory, and resolution of complicated tasks are other symptoms that can be experienced with cannabis use.

Physical signs may include conjunctiva redness, dry mouth, and tachycardia.

Symptoms such as anxiety, dysphasia, paranoid symptoms and panic attacks may appear in some subjects, especially in inexperienced consumers or after high doses, which usually disappear spontaneously hours after consumption.


The dependence or addiction to marijuana is characterized by the presence of an intense desire for consumption, a loss of control over said consumption and a behavioral repertoire destined to the obtaining and the consumption of the drug.

Subjects who develop cannabis dependence require the substance to function properly and when they cannot consume it experience a series of symptoms known as withdrawal syndrome.

Unlike other drugs, marijuana tolerance is not very potent and heavy smokers of this substance only experience a greater habituation to physical symptoms such as tachycardia or decrease in body temperature.


Cannabis abstinence has been a much-discussed entity and does not appear in the American diagnostic classification, DSM-IV, although in the ICD-10, and criteria have been proposed for the syndrome to appear in future editions

The controversy has been due to the fact that this picture is often very mild due to the slow removal of the body from THC.

Also Read: 5 Effects of Drugs on the Nervous System

However, the table is described in more than 50% of the intense consumers or in 15% of the regular consumers.

The most typical symptoms experienced in the withdrawal syndrome are anger or aggression, loss of appetite or weight, irritability, nervousness, restlessness anxiety and insomnia.

Less common symptoms include chills, depressed mood, abdominal pain, tremor, and sweating.