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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Marijuana addiction

03/13/2006

Question:

Is marijuana addictive?

Answer:

Marijuana is addictive.....In order to make the diagnosis of Cannabis Dependency, 3 of the following criteria must be met:

1) Great deal of time spent in activities related to obtaining marijuana

2) Smoking larger amounts over longer periods of time

3) Need increased amounts to achieve desired effect

4) Decreased effect with same dosage

5) Physical/emotional problems when marijuana stopped, such as irritability and insomnia

6) Continued use despite harmful consequences - legal problems, decreased memory

7) Restarting marijuana to relieve problems that occurred after stopping

8) Quitting or reducing social or recreational activities because of marijuana use - prefers to hang out with users as opposed to non-users

9) Having the desire to or making unsuccessful efforts to decrease the amount taken.

I think the hallmark of cannabis addiction is continuing to use despite harmful consequences. The withdrawal from cannabis for those who are dependent is more emotional than physical, but it's pretty obvious to the user.

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Response by:

Peter D Rogers, MD, MPH
Clinical Associate Professor
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University