Is marijuana addictive?

Q: My teenaged daughter and I are having an ongoing debate about the use of marijuana. She claims that marijuana is a relatively safe drug for people to use and that the incidence of addiction to it, and the resulting problems from it, are marginal.

I disagree. I think that marijuana, like most drugs, is addictive and that people who use it frequently, can get themselves into serious trouble. I am interested in what you think about sustained marijuana use.

A: I do not think that you can argue that marijuana is not addictive.

Nine percent of those who use it regularly are clearly addicted to it, meaning that they cannot go for any length of time without using it.

That figure jumps to 17 percent if some of those users started marijuana while they were still adolescents.

By way of comparison, think of the problems we might have if nine percent of those who had an alcoholic drink were addicted to it.

Alcohol has its own problems, but its consumption is widespread and is not likely to disable nine percent of those who use it.

In other words, the addictive strength of marijuana is more than your daughter is willing to admit.

One of the problems when trying to understand marijuana is that today’s substance is considerably greater than it used to be.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main substance in marijuana, has risen to 6.1 percent in strength in 2014 from 3.7 percent in 1990.

That means that the marijuana on the streets is cleaner and more powerful and addictive than it used to be.

The discussions that you and your daughter are having are certainly relevant for today’s family.

The federal government is proposing legislation to take the drug industry away from the nefarious underground and create legislation that will provide better guidelines, oversight and regulation.

Marijuana in the stores will likely hit even higher quality grades than what is currently sold on the street. People who use it should be aware that it has a possible addictive potential and should be used with the same self-control you might expect from the casual drinker at a cocktail party.

Hopefully your daughter is cultivating some of that awareness from her discussions with you and will mature into a responsible participant.

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