Marijuana smoking has been around for decades. Today, it is easier to obtain than it was decades ago, thanks largely to the leafy substance being legalized in 18 U.S. states. Fourteen states have decriminalized marijuana, also called weed, according to Wikipedia.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that nearly 11.5 percent of 8th-graders used weed in 2020, as did 28% of 10th-graders and 35.2% of 12th-graders. The federal agency also reports that 4.4% of 10th-graders and 6.9% of 12th-graders smoked weed daily. Teens smoke weed in two ways: vaping and inhaling from a joint. Both methods of smoking marijuana are not healthy and are dangerous for teenagers. 

Reasons Teens Smoke Weed

Reasons Teens Smoke Weed

Why do teens smoke marijuana? There are several reasons why they use weed, which we will explore below.

Everyone Else Is Doing It

We have all been subjected to peer pressure in our lives, and teens face it almost every day. It can be very difficult to avoid peer pressure when their friends and classmates are pushing them to do something they don’t really want to. It can also be tough to say no to people, and more so when the pressure comes from a trusted friend. Peer pressure can be a daunting challenge to avoid for kids.

Teenagers may encourage each other to drink some alcohol, try drugs, or take a hit from a joint, or vape it. After all, vaping is not really smoking, and it is not bad for you, they think. To a teenager, using marijuana is a normal part of life, and particularly so where it is legal for recreational use.

Saw It, Heard It, Gotta Try It

Consider that much of the popular music teens listen to makes weed sound cool and OK. Also, consider that much of what is on TV, streaming channels, and music videos portray people of different ages smoking weed. Teens, therefore, think there is nothing wrong with smoking weed because they see it almost constantly.

Shyness Buster

Teens can be shy and quiet. Maybe they don’t feel confident about themselves. When a shy and quiet person smokes weed, they may feel a little more open, brave, and uninhibited. They feel a sense of empowerment and get a shot of self-confidence. Smoking weed makes them feel like they belong and have something in common with everyone else.


Get Away and Feel Better

Teen life is full of drama where they can feel very up and positive or very down and depressed. Frustration is also a known feeling that teens experience. They are in between being a child and an adult, and the adults in their life expect them to act more adult-like. However, they are still children. Smoking or vaping weed offers them a release from their negative emotions, stresses, and frustrations and maybe even makes them feel more adult.

Bad Information

Everyone knows someone who is a self-described expert on marijuana, even teenagers. Have a talk with your teen and go over the facts, not myths, about weed. Here are a few starter points:

  • Weed is a drug and can cause the same effects as other drugs‒dependence and addiction.
  • Vaping weed is no safer than smoking a joint.
  • If you use too much weed, it can have the opposite effect on you. For instance, too much weed can make you paranoid rather than feeling unencumbered.

How Weed Affects the Teen Body and Brain

How Weed Affects the Teen Body and Brain

Marijuana can affect every part of the teen body and brain, just as other drugs and alcohol do. When the smoke is inhaled, the heart rate speeds up, blood vessels in the eyes expand, and the bronchial pipes relax and become enlarged, per NIDA. Smoking weed also produces some short and long-term effects on the teen body:


  • Slower reaction time
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Difficulty thinking and solving problems
  • Altered senses

Long-term effects include a dangerously high heart rate and an increased risk for mental health conditions, such as depression and psychosis.


Marijuana affects the neurotransmitters in the brain, says NIDA. When weed is vaped or smoked, the THC in it passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which then carries it to the organs, including the brain. 

Almost immediately, the teen will feel the effects, which usually last from one to three hours. Functions of the brain, including decision-making, memory, and concentration, are affected and can last for days after using weed, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Long-term effects of using weed as a teenager
  • Long-term learning and memory issues
  • Risk of becoming addicted to weed

Teenage Marijuana Use Statistics

Data on the number of teens using weed from 2019 indicate that marijuana use is continuing. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports:

  • Almost 1.4 million teens between ages 12 to 17 tried weed for the first time.
  • Almost 35% of teens in that same age group thought there was a “perceived risk of harm from smoking marijuana weekly.”
  • 1 million teens are thought to have a marijuana use disorder, which is a severe weed addiction.
  • 397,000 teens had a co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD) and a major depressive episode (MDE) in 2018. Of those, only 1.3% or 5,000 teens received both SUD and mental health treatment.

Delphi Behavioral Health Group provides both SUD and mental health treatment for adolescents at many of our facilities.

Teen Marijuana Addiction Signs

Teen Marijuana Addiction Signs

teens smoking weed

Teens can be great at hiding their emotions and actions they don’t want parents or guardians to know.

Nonetheless, there are some obvious signs that indicate they are addicted to weed.

  • Not interested in activities or friends they once enjoyed because they want to use weed instead
  • Spending more time obtaining weed and recovering from using it
  • Asking for money soon after they received an allowance or paycheck
  • Poor school grades and behavioral problems occurring at school
  • Emotional distancing, self-isolating
  • Irritable, doesn’t want to help around the house
  • Changes in personal appearance

 If you notice any of these signs of drug addiction in your teen, consult with your physician. There are substance use treatment programs for adolescents, which can be quite helpful and valuable to you and your teen. 

Smoking or vaporizing weed is not healthy for a child between the ages of 12 and 18. Their young brains are still developing, and their young bodies are still growing. Weed may seem like it is easing a teen’s anxiety or depression and maybe even helping them stay focused and study. However, smoking weed can cause brain damage in adolescence.

More Negative Effects for Teens Smoking Weed

More Negative Effects for Teens Smoking Weed

Teens that smoke or vape marijuana are at risk of doing more than just damage to their bodies and brains. There are other negative effects and risks, which should not be taken. Every child’s life is valuable.

 “Drugged” driving: Teens are not yet fully experienced drivers. Some may think it’s OK to drive faster than the speed limit, not leave enough space from the vehicle in front of them, or make a hasty decision to change lanes. Inexperienced teen drivers using weed risk accidents.  Their distance judgment, reaction time, and coordination might be off due to the effects of weed. No amount of marijuana is safe to have for anyone if they are getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. 

The Law and Criminality: The laws regarding marijuana are different from state to state and by city. The legality of weed can range from it being illegal, a misdemeanor, a felony, and some states’ laws on weed are based on how much a person has in their possession. However, it is illegal in all states and the District of Columbia to possess marijuana if the person is under age 21. 

Employment: If a teenager is working or is seeking a job, some employers use drug testing as part of the hiring process. There are also employers who utilize random drug tests. Weed can show up several weeks after the last use, according to the CDC.

How to Find Help for a Teen Addicted to Weed

Contrary to what most people believe, marijuana is addictive when used regularly. SAMHSA writes that one in six people who start using weed before age 18 can become addicted. The THC in marijuana is three times more than it was 25 years ago, and THC is the primary ingredient in weed that leads to addiction.

Addiction is a disease that affects how the brain functions. The safest and most effective help for a teen addicted to weed is substance abuse treatment. Delphi Behavioral Health has 13 facilities across the nation that treat substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Several of our centers have adolescent treatment programs. Through behavior therapies coupled with drug education classes, your teen can safely stop using marijuana.

Young people are the future of our country, and their physical and mental health is valuable.

Tap to GET HELP NOW: (844) 899-5777