Cannabis and Youth

Even though adult-use cannabis is now legal in Massachusetts for adults, 21+, it is still illegal
for anyone under the age of 21*. Certain health and safety risks come with using the drug when you are young. Your health and future are in your hands – make sure you understand how cannabis can impact you long-term.

*Exceptions for those in the Medical Use of Marijuana Program.

What is Marijuana?

Cannabis, commonly called “marijuana,” “weed,” or “pot”, is a drug from the cannabis plant that contains a mind-altering chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Health Effects

Cannabis may impair your decision-making, negatively affect your mental health, and – if smoked – increase your blood pressure and hurt your lungs. For young people, it is especially important to note cannabis’ impact on brain development: your brain is not fully developed until you reach your mid-20s, and regular cannabis use during adolescence and early adulthood can lead to brain changes that negatively affect memory, learning, and attention. If you start using marijuana when you are young, you may increase your chances of becoming dependent on it. All of these factors may make it harder for you to earn good grades and achieve your goals.

Consequences of Underage Use

As with alcohol, it is against the law to use marijuana if you are under 21*. If you violate the law, you may need to pay a civil penalty and/or complete a drug awareness program, depending on your age. Beyond that, your school or employer may have policies against using marijuana, and you could lose your job, your position on a sports team, or financial aid for college. Do not risk your future by using cannabis underage.

Your brain is not full developed until your reach your mid-20s, and using cannabis before that can impact its development – negatively affecting memory, learning, and attention. This may make it harder for you to earn good grades and achieve your goals.

If you start using marijuana when you are young, you may increase your chances of becoming dependent – so why risk it? Steer clear of cannabis to avoid dependence, or cannabis use disorder. Contact the MA Substance Use Helpline, if you or someone you know is struggling with problematic use.

*Exceptions for those in the Medical Use of Marijuana Program.

Safety Tips

Safety Tip

If marijuana becomes a problem, seek treatment.

Visit the Massachusetts Substance Abuse Helpline or call 800-327-5050. The Helpline is the only statewide, public resource for finding substance use treatment and recovery services. Helpline services are free and confidential. Caring, trained Specialists will help you understand the treatment system and your options.

Keep cannabis products locked away, and out of reach of children and pets.

Remember: Getting high could impair your decision-making.

Check in with your doctor if you are using marijuana and are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Driving with cannabis in your vehicle? Always keep it in a closed container locked in your glove box or trunk.

Start low and go slow with edibles! They can take one to four hours to take effect.

Always get a ride when using cannabis. Never get behind the wheel.

Only adults 21 or older can purchase, consume, or grow adult-use cannabis.

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