420, smoking weed, and drug problems : Marijuana facts

Co-authored by: Jamie Felzer

It’s April 20th, or 4-20, and anyone who smokes marijuana knows what that means – It’s time to smoke weed- a lot of weed!

In honor of this “stoner” holiday, or perhaps in reverence of its implications, I wanted to put together a post that explored some recent findings having to do with the most commonly used illegal substance in the U.S.
These two studies deal specifically with smoking weed, teenagers, and drug problems.

Study 1 – Misconceptions of marijuana use prevalence

An article in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs has revealed that most young adults greatly overestimate how many of their peers smoke weed. Teens surveyed believed that 98% of their peers smoked marijuana at least once a year – In reality, only 51.5% off the teens reported actually ever smoking marijuana.

To make matters worse, even though only 15% of the teens reported using once a month or more, the estimate among peers was closer to 65%!!! Since we know that perception of peer behavior affects adolescents greatly, such misconceptions can easily lead to false peer-pressure towards marijuana use.

So next time instead of assuming everyone smokes weed, think again.It’s one of the most commonly used drugs but the notion that everyone smokes weed is simply wrong.

Reference: Kilmer, Walker, Lee, Palmer, Mallett, Fabiano, & Larrimer (2006). Misperceptions of College Students Marijuana use: Implications for Prevention. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 67, pp. 277-281.

Study 2 – Teens reducing use can reduce marijuana dependence risk

This next study dealt with early patterns of weed smoking as possible predictors of later problems use. They followed more than 1500 respondents from adolescence (ages 15-17) into young adulthood (ages 21-24).

The article revealed some interesting overall patterns, but I’ll keep the results short and simple, it is 4-20 after all…

The good news? Teens who reduced their use during the first phase of the study (the teens years) were at a significantly lower risk for marijuana dependence and regular use in early adulthood. This suggests that successful interventions may be effective at reducing later problem use.

The bad news? All marijuana smokers who used at least weekly showed the highest risk for later problems even if they reduced their use… This is not that surprising of a finding though since dependence usually involves regular use.

The bottom line? Reducing marijuana use at any stage will lower your risk for later problem use, but those who find themselves smoking often are most likely to end up in some trouble even if they try to cut down. Knowledge is power, so if you think you might be at risk and are concerned, talking to someone can’t hurt. Knowing marijuana facts can’t hurt either.

Reference: Swift, Coffey, Carlin, Degenhardt, Calabria & Patton (2009). Are adolescents who moderate their cannabis use at lower risk of later regular and dependent cannabis use? Addiction, 104, pp 806-814.

For a different view on 420, see this video:

5 responses to “420, smoking weed, and drug problems : Marijuana facts”

  1. One of my friends got his life entirely screwed up b/c of his addiction to marijuana. he was one of those guys who said he could quit anytime he wanted… but found out how hard it was when he actually tried

  2. All of this is wrong. Marijuana has been proven over and over and over again not to be addictive except mentally, like everything else that has ever existed. And do you think the 98% didn’t know each other? Make an actual argument when your head is stuck up your ass. Thank you.

    • Would you like to cite some actual evidence that it has been proven not to be addictive – I cited my evidence. And as usual when people make your comment, is “mentally” addictive not an issue? Isn’t the brain a physical part of the body or is your brain so separate (maybe because of said ass stuckage issue) from your body that you can’t possibly get that argument?

  3. Because everything, and literally everything is mentally addictive. People get mentally addicted to exercise or video games, does that mean we should make exercise or Activision illegal as well?

    Here read this, do your research to why marijuana is illegal in the first place, try it, realize it’s not addictive at all for yourself and then decide.


    • William,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. You should read some of the other things I’ve written about weed. No one is saying marijuana is bad per se but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss the negative aspects of it. People who get addicted to video games, food, and exercise seek help too. Read my legalization and decriminalization articles and then comment again. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
      Adi Jaffe, Ph.D.

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