9% of people who try cannabis become dependent. If you use before age 18 the rate of dependence is about 17% or 1 in 6.

A common misconception is that cannabis helps

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depressed mood

When withdrawal symptoms include

  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Decreased appetite
  • Depressed mood

Individuals are led to believe that cannabis is helping these symptoms, but in some cases, they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms of cannabis. Withdrawal symptoms can occur within 8 hours of abstinence but can be delayed up to 72 hours. The symptoms usually peak in severity on day 10 and can last 45 days or longer.

Student Impact 

Studies suggest that cannabis use, especially heavy and/or regular use, can negatively impact academic outcomes among college students. Outcomes included lower GPA and a longer time to graduate. 

Students who choose to use cannabis should be familiar with casual use vs. high risk use to best avoid negative outcomes.

Casual Use

  • Infrequent use (less than weekly)
  • Experimental use - generally in social settings
  • Minimal consequences with use - does not impact social life or academics

High Risk Use

  • Frequent use (more than once a week)
  • Use negatively impacts academics
  • Use for anxiety or emotional struggles
  • Use outside of a social setting (alone)
  • Use to help sleep (restlessness or inability to sleep usually caused by use)


Vulnerable Populations

Age (youth and young adults): Our brains are fully developed by age 25 - 26. Waiting longer to initiate use will decrease risks of negative outcomes. 

Mental health: Substantial research indicates that individuals with a predisposition for or family history of psychosis and/or substance use disorder should refrain from using cannabis as it can trigger these conditions.

Pregnancy: Cannabis use can affect the health of pregnant individuals and their baby. 


Other Considerations

Cost: the good news is that legalization allows for the safety and regulation of products sold in legal dispensaries, the bad news it can be an expensive product.  

Employment: employers retain the authority to set their own workplace policies and may drug test regardless of legalization.

Financial aid and/or legal costs: financial aid eligibility can be impacted due to federal laws if you have a cannabis related offense; driving under the influence can result in fines, license suspension and mandatory DUI training. 

Sports/extracurriculars and relationships: be mindful of how your use impacts your performance and engagement within extracurriculars and relationships.