A project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

Skip Navigation

Womens Health logo

Smoking and How To Quit

divider line


Need help?

If you need help stopping marijuana use, use the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator to find a facility near you.

Marijuana is a dried mixture of stems, leaves, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant. Slang terms for marijuana include pot, weed, reefer, joint, and grass. It is usually smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe called a bong. Like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana may cause:

  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lung diseases

One study showed that marijuana smoking doubled or tripled the risk of developing cancers of the head or neck. Marijuana also may cause lung cancer. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more cancer-causing compounds than does tobacco smoke.

Using marijuana can lead to other serious problems that affect health, safety, relationships, and welfare, including:

  • Problems with memory and learning
  • Distorted perception
  • Trouble with thinking and problem solving
  • Loss of coordination
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia (being excessively suspicious and/or distrustful of others)
  • Increased risk of a heart attack
  • Reduced ability of the immune system to fight disease

Because marijuana makes it harder to learn and remember things, students who are heavy marijuana smokers tend to do worse in school. They get lower grades and are less likely to graduate from high school than are students who do not smoke marijuana.

For some people, marijuana can be addictive. Addiction means that you keep using a drug, even though it causes problems in your life. Using the drug also may take the place of things that you normally do for fun. If you stop using the drug, you crave it and experience withdrawal symptoms, such as sleeplessness and irritability.

Return to top

Content last updated: May 19, 2010.

Return to top