Marijuana

Some facts about cannabis (pot, weed, hashish, ganja, grass):

  • Heavy cannabis smoking (more than 50 times) doubles one’s risk of developing lung cancer.1
  • Recent research is finding that long-term, regular use (at least 4 times a week) of marijuana can alter brain development, particularly in parts of the brain related to decision making.2
  • Some states have legalized medicinal use of cannabis for individuals who struggle to manage negative symptoms of chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. The state of Florida recognizes legal use of medical cannabis. For more information, see the official Florida statute on medical use of marijuana
  • According to the University of Florida’s regulations, “use, possession, manufacturing, distribution, or sale of marijuana, heroin, narcotics, or any other controlled substance which is prohibited by law.” Also, “possession of drug paraphernalia including but not limited to bongs or glass pipes” is prohibited.
  • Synthetic Marijuana: Can also be known as “Spice,” “K2,” and many other names, this is in reference to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that are intended to mimic the experience felt when using marijuana. It is marketed as a “safe” alternative, but it is actually dangerous and unregulated. Some abusers of this drug have experienced rapid heart rate, vomiting, confusion, and has been associated with heart attacks. Since there is no documented medical benefit and the chemicals in these mixtures have a high potential for abuse, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has found synthetic marijuana illegal to use, sell, or posses.

1 Callagran RC, Allebeck P, & Sidorchuk A. (2013). Marijuana use and risk of lung cancer: a 40-year cohort study. Cancer Causes Control, 24.

2 Filby FM, Aslan S, Calhoun VD, Spence JS, Damaraju E, Caprihan A, and Segall J. (2014). Long-term effects of marijuana use on the brain. PNAS, 111 (47).

Other Drugs

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that is found in traditional tobacco products (cigarettes) as well as e-cigs, vapes, and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults | CDC

Research has shown that nicotine is as addictive as alcohol, heroin, and cocaine (Gulf Coast South AHEC, 2021) - Nicotine's Effect on the Brain - Gulfcoast South AHEC (gsahec.org)

Nicotine’s effects on the Brain

  • After smoking, nicotine is delivered to the brain within seven seconds (Nicotine's Effect on the Brain - Gulfcoast South AHEC (gsahec.org)
  • Nicotine can harm brain development in individuals. The brain usually will still be developing until around age 25 Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults | CDC
  • Some of these harms to brain include attention, learning, & mood (same CDC source as point 2).
  • Nicotine can impact brain development in young adults by changing the way brain cells connect to one another.
  • Nicotine exposes the individual to strong feelings of pleasure, which stem from the release of dopamine. This response tends to be the main reason why people become addicted to nicotine-based products.

Nicotine’s effects on the Body

Nicotine is known to have significant effects on the body that include the heart, lungs, reproductive system, etc. Most notably, the respiratory system is affected by the continued inhalation of small particles.

The lungs, over time and with frequent use, become black in color and inflamed. Additionally, the muscle below the lungs begins to thin, contributing to the shortness of breath chronic nicotine users report.

Is vaping safer than traditional cigarettes?

No. Vaping and ENDS products still contain many carcinogens that will adversely affect your health and have multiple negative associated outcomes, which include but are not limited to; decreased appetite, heightened mood, increased heart rate, nausea, and increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disorders.

If I currently smoke, will I be able to successfully quit?

Yes! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says more than 3 out of 5 adults who have ever smoked cigarettes have quit (Smoking Cessation: Fast Facts | Smoking & Tobacco Use | CDC)

UF provides on campus cessation resources through Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) UF Tobacco Free Campus – UF is tobacco free. Everywhere. (ufl.edu)

Take Action

The University of Florida offers support and education for students on campus through the Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC), located at 3190 Radio Road, provides services such as counseling, support groups, and campus recovery communities.

Resources

Learn more about the health effects of drug use - including marijuana, prescription medications misuse, club drugs, and designer drugs.