Marijuana Dependence

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a psychoactive preparation of the Cannabis plant used for medical, spiritual and recreational reasons. Cannabis is known to cause euphoria and relaxation, with possible adverse effects including impaired motor skills, dry mouth, red eyes, paranoia, anxiety, and a decrease in short-term memory. Marijuana is associated with an emotional-motivational withdrawal syndrome, with marijuana dependence and withdrawal sometimes requiring formal drug treatment. While medications are not typically used to treat cannabis dependence, a range of psychotherapy and relapse prevention programs can be useful.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a specific preparation of cannabis, with this drug also known as weed, grass, pot, ganga, reefer, mary jane, buds, skunk, herb and many more. Cannabis can also be prepared as hashish, kief, tincture, hash oil and infusions, with people either smoking or ingesting the drug orally for its euphoric and relaxant qualities. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), it is the amount of THC present in cannabis that is responsible for the drug’s potency, with marijuana containing 5 percent THC content on average, resin containing 20 percent THC content, and cannabis oil containing more than 60
percent THC content.

What is Marijuana Dependence?

Marijuana dependence is also known as cannabis use disorder, a problematic pattern of marijuana use leading to significant impairment or distress. Marijuana dependence is defined in the fifth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), with 9 percent of people who use cannabis known to develop dependence with long-term use. Marijuana use has been associated with a range of comorbid mental health problems, including mood disorders and anxiety disorders. Occupational and economic problems may also result from long-term use, with delusions, hallucinations and schizophrenia also possible.


While no medications have proved effective for marijuana dependence, research continues to explore three separate approaches: agonist substitution, antagonist, and modulation of other neurotransmitter systems. Dronabinol, Acetylcysteine and Entacapone have been shown to reduce cannabis use in certain cases, with Buspirone also showing promise as a treatment for dependence. The vast majority of treatment programs for cannabis are psychological in nature, with typical interventions including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, contingency management, supportive-expressive psychotherapy, family and systems intervention, and 12-step facilitation. Dedicated relapse prevention techniques have also proved useful in reducing relapse rates and supporting long-term recovery.