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How to Tell If Your Teen Is Smoking Pot

Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist, author of the bestselling book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” and a highly sought-after speaker.

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drug among teenagers.   Yet, many teens don’t even consider it to be a drug. Changes in laws regarding medicinal marijuana and recreational use causes many teens to doubt the dangers of marijuana use.

A 2018 survey of 12th-grade students found that just over 22% of teens said they had smoked marijuana within the past month.   Teens continue to report that marijuana is easily accessible and very affordable.

Make sure you know the warning signs that could indicate your teen is using marijuana.

What Marijuana Looks Like

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Doug Menuez/Photodisc/Getty Images

Marijuana resembles tobacco but can take on several forms. It can be green and brown or grayish in color. It includes the dried leaves, flowers, and stems of the cannabis plant.  

It may be shredded or crumbled, which is how it looks when it is smoked.

Sometimes teens will create a blunt out of a hollowed-out cigar filled with marijuana.

Teens crumble marijuana and roll it into a cigarette or use a pipe or bong to smoke. Sometimes teens place marijuana in food, like brownies, or make it into a tea.

Signs Your Teen Is High

Being high on marijuana is unique to the individual, but there are some signs you may notice if your teen has recently smoked pot:  

  • Your teen may have red, bloodshot eyes.
  • Your teen could be very giddy or very tired, depending on when they got high.
  • Your teen may be paranoid or anxious.
  • They may get the “munchies” and be hungry for anything they can get their hands on.

Mood or Behavior Changes

A change in behavior is one of the biggest telltale signs your teen may be using drugs.

Regular marijuana use might lead to varying behavior at school, work, changes in attendance in school, or mood swings. Your teen’s appearance may change, too.

Additionally, it could be that your teen demonstrates a more laid-back or “lazy” demeanor. It’s possible they may neglect chores or other activities. However, it’s important to remember that the effects of marijuana on an individual vary. It’s best not to make the assumption your teen is on drugs until you have further evidence or you are able to have an honest discussion with them about it.  

Signs of Drug Paraphernalia

While it’s good practice to give your teen privacy, it’s important to remember what your teen is doing is your business. So if you have a reason to suspect your teen is using drugs, it’s worth investigating.

Be on the lookout for pipes, rolling papers, and baggies with marijuana residue. These items may be hidden in canisters, books, or bottles in your teen’s room.  

Your Teen’s Friends

Sometimes, parents find out about their teen’s marijuana use through their teen’s friends. A parent might confide in you that your child’s friend was caught smoking marijuana or using drugs.

Spending time with friends who use drugs may indicate that your teen could be using drugs as well. It’s important to know who is influencing your teen.   If you know your teen’s friends are smoking, you can use this fact to open up a conversation about what it means to your teen that his/her friends are smoking, which may lead you to discover if your teen is participating as well.

Hiding the Evidence

Teens who use marijuana, especially around the home, have to be resourceful to mask the smell and hide the evidence.

Marijuana has a distinct order and if you have ever smelled it, you’ll recognize it again. If you have not, call your local community center or police department and sign up for a D.A.R.E. or parenting class on teen drug use.

You may find your teen has taken an interest in incense or air fresheners. Or, they may start using eye drops to mask the redness in their eyes.  

Drug Tests

If you’re suspicious your teen may be using marijuana, a home drug testing kit can give you an answer. Available at pharmacies and online drug stores, most kits will test for a variety of drugs, including marijuana.

And while positive test results could be a first step in getting your teen help, drug testing your child definitely has some serious risks. It could greatly impair your relationship with your teen. And that could be quite harmful in the long-term.

Additionally, at-home drug tests don’t detect all drugs. Synthetic drugs, for example, might not show up on a screening even though they can be just as dangerous as other drugs.

So think twice about drug testing your teen. Instead, put your energy into creating a healthy relationship that encourages your teen to be honest with you.

Again, marijuana use varies per the individual. Behavior changes may come in many different forms, so it is best not to jump to conclusions that your teen is on drugs and to try to communicate with them openly and honestly.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

If you suspect your teen may be using marijuana, you should be on the lookout for these warning signs that may indicate drug use.

How to Tell if Someone Has Been Using Marijuana

Last Updated: February 12, 2020 References

This article was co-authored by Klare Heston, LCSW. Klare Heston is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Ohio. She received her Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983.

There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 54,571 times.

Marijuana (also known as cannabis, pot, or weed) is a plant-based drug that can be inhaled as smoke or consumed in an edible form. [1] X Trustworthy Source National Institute on Drug Abuse Agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services devoted to researching drug and drug abuse and educating the public Go to source Marijuana affects different people in different ways, so the signs and symptoms of marijuana use may vary from one person to another. If you are concerned that a friend or family member might be using marijuana, look for the most common physical and mental symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes and decreased reaction time. You might also notice other signs, such as characteristic smells, or changes in the person’s behavior and interests. If you see evidence of marijuana use, try communicating with the person about your concerns.

Related wikiHows

  1. ↑https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-marijuana
  2. ↑http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/parentsguide2017.pdf
  3. ↑https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003031.htm
  4. ↑http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/parentsguide2017.pdf
  5. ↑http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/basics/symptoms/con-20020970
  6. ↑http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/parentsguide2017.pdf
  7. ↑https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/signs-marijuana-use-and-addiction
  8. ↑http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/basics/symptoms/con-20020970
  9. ↑http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/dope/body/effects.html
  1. ↑http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/parentsguide2017.pdf
  2. ↑http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/parentsguide2017.pdf
  3. ↑http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/parentsguide2017.pdf
  4. ↑http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/what-can-i-say-to-get-you-to-stop
  5. ↑https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/05/02/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-when-you-think-theyre-using-drugs/
  6. ↑http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/parentsguide2017.pdf

About This Article

You might be concerned if you think someone you know has been using marijuana, but once you know for sure, you’ll be able to talk to them about it. Signs of using marijuana can vary from person to person, but the most obvious sign is having bloodshot eyes. Someone who has used marijuana may also have a slow reaction time, so check to see how quickly they respond when you talk to them. If they have trouble concentrating or remembering things, they could be high. Someone who has used marijuana may also seem extra anxious or extra relaxed. Besides physical signs, the person may smell musty or like a skunk. Keep in mind that these things don’t necessarily mean the person’s using marijuana. They could just be tired or upset. If you do think the person is using marijuana, don’t be afraid to talk to them about your concerns. Just wait for a time when they’re sober so you can have a productive and relaxed conversation. To learn more about how to talk to someone about their marijuana use, read on!

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Marijuana (also known as cannabis, pot, or weed) is a plant-based drug that can be inhaled as smoke or consumed in an edible form.https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-marijuana Marijuana affects different…