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Marijuana: Health and Safety

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What We Know

Immediate effects

  • The immediate effects of using marijuana can include: a relaxed or "high" feeling, increased heart rate and blood pressure, slower reactions, difficulty thinking and concentrating, increased appetite, anxiety or panic, dry mouth and red eyes.
  • These effects typically last 2 to 4 hours after marijuana is smoked or inhaled. When marijuana is eaten, the effects take longer to start and may last 4 to 10 hours.

Health effects in at-risk populations

The Oregon Health Authority's scientific advisory committee looks at current data in order to make evidence-based health recommendations to minimize negative health effects of marijuana use. Here's what we can say so far:

  • There is no safe level of marijuana use during pregnancy.
  • Marijuana can pass to a fetus or baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • See OHA's approved public health statements for more information.

Brochure cover

For Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

When you're pregnant...

  • If you use marijuana in any form during pregnancy, it may harm your baby. This includes smoking, eating and vaping marijuana.
  • There is no known safe amount of marijuana use during pregnancy.

If you're breastfeeding...

  • The chemical in marijuana that makes you feel high, called THC, can get into breast milk and may harm your baby.

Talk to your doctor...

  • If you're pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding and need help to stop using marijuana.
  • If you're using marijuana as a medicine and want to talk about choices that do not risk harming your baby.

Download Marijuana and Your Baby Brochure



Parent's Guide

For Parents

As a parent, your voice matters in the conversation about marijuana.

Download Parent's Guide


 

Start early! Talk often.

  • Kids who use marijuana often start in their early teens. In Oregon, about 15% of 8th graders and 40% of 11th graders report having tried marijuana.1 Parents should start an ongoing conversation about drugs before kids start middle school.

Express a no use attitude.

  • Children are more likely to use marijuana if their parents are supportive of marijuana use.

Be positive.

  • Be attentive, curious, respectful and understanding. Shame, anger, scare tactics or disappointment will be counter-productive.

Give your child ways to say no to marijuana and other drugs.

  • Ideas include role play, helping your child find words to refuse drug offers, and letting your child know it's fine to walk away from someone, including a friend, who is offering drugs.

Teens and marijuana

  • It is still illegal for teens to use recreational marijuana. Teenagers' brains are in a critical time for development. Areas of the brain related to decision-making and learning are maturing. This means a teen’s brain may be particularly susceptible to the negative effect of any substance, including marijuana. The full impact of marijuana use on adolescent health is not known. However, based on the current science available, we can say that teens should not use marijuana because of the increased risk for both short- and possible long-term negative outcomes.

Stay True To You logo

For Teens

Brain development doesn’t stop until well into our 20s. Marijuana use as a teen can get in the way of reaching your full potential.

The Stay True to You campaign is for youth and young adults to share information about the health effects and consequence of using marijuana. Visit StayTrueToYou.org or Stay True Oregon on Facebook or Instagram to learn more.


educator's guide

For Schools

The Oregon Health Authority worked with the Oregon Department of Education and the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to develop a guide for educators and school administrators that recommends steps adults in schools can take to prevent youth marijuana use.

Download Educator's Guide

Preventing Youth from Using Marijuana (pdf)

 

For more resources, visit TalkWithThem.info, an education campaign for parents and educators. The Spanish language version is available at HablaConEllos.info.


Safe Storage and Uselock

Marijuana, like many other drugs, can be dangerous for children and can affect a person's reaction time and ability to think clearly.

Marijuana can make children very sick.

  • Don't use marijuana when kids are around.
  • Store all marijuana products in a locked area that children cannot see or reach.
  • If your child eats or drinks marijuana products, call the Poison Center Hotline as soon as possible at 1-800-222-1222.
  • If symptoms seem bad, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. Symptoms can include your child having trouble walking or sitting up, starting to be sleepy or having a hard time breathing.

Using marijuana while taking care of a baby isn't safe.

  • Don’t let anyone take care of your baby when they are under the influence of marijuana.
  • If you plan to use marijuana, make sure there’s another person around who’s not using it and can safely care for your child.

Using marijuana affects your ability to drive, bike or operate machinery.

  • Don't drive under the influence of marijuana. It is not safe and is still illegal.
  • Don’t ride in a car if the driver is under the influence of marijuana.
  • You shouldn't ride a bike or operate machinery if you are under the influence of marijuana.

If you choose an edible marijuana product, especially for the first time, make sure you:

  • Are in a place that you know you will be safe.
  • Have someone with you that that is not using marijuana or other drugs.
  • Start with a single serving size.
  • Give yourself time to react to the THC (the chemical in marijuana that makes you feel high), which is more slowly absorbed when taken in an edible.
  • Do not drive.

Addiction Resources


1 2014 Oregon Student Wellness Survey, p. 83

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