Your body is a temple. Your brain a well-oiled machine. You’ll need both to be in top form if you’re going to pursue your interests and reach your goals. Marijuana, sometimes called pot or weed, alters your mind and body in ways that can make you feel and perform less than your best.

Brain Development

You can do anything you put your mind to. And since your brain is still developing into your 20s, you’ll want to take good care of it. Research suggests that using marijuana while your brain is growing can change your brain chemistry and have lasting effects on memory, learning, and intelligence. The long-term impacts of marijuana are still being studied.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2012.
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Not-so-good Effects

You can be in control. You’ve got a good grip on reality. And the reality is using marijuana can have not-so-good effects. It can lead to hallucinations, unpredictable behavior, and poor decision-making that can put the user and others in harm’s way.

Source: Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2014.
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You can get home safe, especially if you steer clear of marijuana. Studies show marijuana can affect coordination and reaction times and is related to more and more fatal crashes in Washington state, especially when mixed with other substances. High drivers can cause a crash, injure themselves and others, and even lose their driver’s license. Never get in the car with a driver who’s used marijuana in the last six hours and always discourage a friend who’s been using marijuana from driving.

Source: Washington Fatal Analysis Reporting System, 2018.
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Sports and Performance

You can excel at the activities you love. If you want to perform at your peak, know this: marijuana has been shown to hurt your performance on stage and in sports. It can affect coordination, movement, and reflexes, impairing your ability to react quickly on the court, judge distance on the field, or nail a tricky instrumental solo. Plus, using marijuana might disqualify you from participating at all.

Source: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 2017.
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Learning and Grades

You can pass the test. Regular marijuana use has been shown to make it harder to learn, pay attention, and remember things. So if you’re trying to get your grades up, crush that quiz, or graduate on time, marijuana is more likely to get in the way. These side effects can last weeks after you’ve stopped.

Source: Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 2008.
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You can put yourself first. You aren’t controlled by anyone—or any substance. Marijuana is addictive no matter how it’s consumed, whether vaped, smoked, or eaten. Research shows that you’re four times more likely to develop a dependence if you start using marijuana as a teen. Often, heavy users who use marijuana to treat irritability, sleeplessness, and anxiety are actually experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Here in Washington state, most teens who get treatment for substance abuse report that marijuana is the main or only drug they use.

Source: Drug Alcohol Dependency Journal, 2008, And more.
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Mood and Mental Health

You can stay steady, even when times get tough. Marijuana can make you feel depressed, anxious, and/or paranoid because of the way it interacts with your brain chemistry. It can weaken your motivation and cause you to lose interest in all the awesome activities and hobbies you love. Some recent studies even suggest a link between marijuana usage and psychosis. If you are depressed or suicidal, call 1-866-TEENLINK or visit

Source: Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2014.
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You can make the right calls. And the decision to use marijuana is a bad one. Marijuana can affect your judgment, increasing your odds of doing something dangerous. You might get in a car with someone who is driving high, drive dangerously, or have unsafe sex and get a sexually transmitted disease. Any of these things could have a lifelong impact for yourself or others.

Source: The Journal of Adolescent Health, 2009.
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Mixing Substances

You can spot a great match. Like Rachel and Ross or peanut butter and jelly. But using marijuana and alcohol at the same time is a bad combination. Together, they can cause reactions you didn’t expect, or the effects of one drug can be more powerful than the other. These affects could be physical (like nausea or vomiting) or psychological (like panic, anxiety, or paranoia).

Source: Substance Use and Misuse, 2001.
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Lung Health

You can live strong. In the short term, research has shown that smoking marijuana can impact your vital lung capacity (how much you can breathe in and oxygenate the blood). It also causes throat and lung irritation and coughing.

Vaping is associated with over two thousand cases of lung injuries that have resulted in hospitalization and, in extreme cases, even death. While more research needs to be done to know the long-term effects of smoking and vaping marijuana, there are plenty of reasons to quit now.

Learn more about the health effects of vaping.

Source: European Respiratory Journal, 2009.
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You can stay healthy. There’s a lot we’re still finding out about marijuana—including the ways it could make someone sick. Some regular marijuana users have started to show symptoms of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS). CHS is an illness that causes recurring vomiting. For people experiencing CHS, frequent hot bathing may help. But researchers have found that CHS tends to continue until people completely abstain from marijuana.

Not only can marijuana cause CHS, vaping marijuana, nicotine, or flavors has been linked to hundreds of cases of a lung injury that has put some people in the hospital. What can this look like? The symptoms include nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, coughing, and fever.

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