Hit me with
the facts.

We want to be straight with you.
Here’s what we know about marijuana.


It’s a different
kind of plant.

Marijuana is not your average plant.
Yes, it’s natural, but it’s different than
trees or flowers. Here’s how:

What is it?

Marijuana is a mixture of dried leaves and flowers from the cannabis sativa and cannabis indica plants. Cannabis is the scientific name, and both marijuana and hemp come from these plants. Hemp is the part of the cannabis plant used for making clothes, soap and food.

There’s a variety.

The three strains of marijuana are indica, sativa, and hybrid.

What’s in it?

There are approximately 500 chemicals in the marijuana plant, one of which is a mind-altering chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which makes one feel “high.” The potency, or the strength of the effect of THC, has been increasing in recent years. It also produces cannabidiol (CBD), which is non-psychoactive and is used to treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe pain and epilepsy.


Weed, pot, grass, dope, bud, kush, hash, chronic, etc…

Medical vs. Retail

Medical marijuana is used to treat medical conditions that impact a person’s quality of life and ability to function properly. A medical marijuana card can be obtained in Colorado to treat cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, cachexia, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea or pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Retail, or recreational, marijuana is what can be bought by any adult 21 and older at a licensed retail marijuana store.

History tells us…

Hemp was used in North American colonies in the early 1600s to make clothes and provide sails and rigging for ships. These plants had very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and therefore were non-psychoactive.


There’s a
science to it.

The chemicals in marijuana are
what makes one feel high, but
that’s not the only effect.

Short-Term Effects

Feeling high, slowed reaction time and hand/eye coordination, distorted perceptions of time and distance, paranoia, faster heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased appetite, dry mouth, red eyes, difficulty thinking and problem-solving, decreased motivation and feeling tired are all short-term effects.


Dopamine is released in the brain when using marijuana, activating the neuron pathways of the brain that produce the “high.”


Marijuana users experience short-term memory loss because of the drug’s effect on the hippocampus.


When marijuana is smoked, toxins and carcinogens are released, hurting the lungs. Some studies even suggest this smoke contains many of the same toxins as tobacco smoke.


Marijuana raises the heart rate shortly after smoking; the effect can last up to three hours.

It Varies

The potency of THC—which has increased significantly over the years, frequency of use, age of first use, and whether other substances are being consumed at the same time are all factors that determine how marijuana affects someone. Each person metabolizes it differently.

In Your Fat

THC is stored in your fat cells and can stay in your body for several weeks following use.

It’s Ergolytic

Marijuana is an ergolytic drug, meaning it diminishes athletic performance, causing slowed reaction time and muscle fatigue.


It’s more
than a high.

We still don’t know everything
about marijuana. Here’s some of
the health effects we do know:

Marijuana can harm your developing body.

Underage marijuana puts you at risk for impaired learning, loss of memory, impaired math and reading skills, impaired coordination and balance, and slowed growth.

Marijuana can affect your mental health.

Regular marijuana use can increase anxiety disorders among adolescents and 17% of teens who use marijuana regularly become addicted. Research shows youth who regularly use marijuana are seven times more likely to develop depression.

Marijuana can damage your lungs.

Strong evidence shows an association between daily or near-daily marijuana use and chronic bronchitis. Vaping weed has grown in popularity recently, and these products can contain nicotine, weed (THC or CBD), or other flavors and chemicals that aren’t great for your body. Recently, there have been over 2,000 outbreaks of lung illnesses linked to vaping.


Let’s get
into the laws.

For marijuana to become legal,
certain laws were put into place.
Check them out:

Amendment 64

In 2012, voter approval of Amendment 64 made Colorado the first state to legalize retail marijuana. Legalization began in 2014, and it allows the state to regulate it and have control over licenses, advertising and product safety, and allows law enforcement to spend less time charging people for minor marijuana offenses. It also creates tax revenue and jobs for the economy.

Cities and counties have the right to create their own regulations around the sale and consumption of marijuana.

Age Requirement

The legal age for using retail marijuana is 21, while the legal age for medical marijuana is 18. For patients under the age of 18 with a qualifying medical condition, obtaining a medical card requires two physician recommendations and a parent/guardian approval.

Federal Legality

Weed is still illegal under federal law and classified as a controlled substance. This means it’s illegal to use on all federal land and as a government employee. States that have legalized retail marijuana all have different laws.

Drug Testing

Employers and universities have the ability to prohibit use and set their own drug-testing policies, even though marijuana is legal for patients and adults 21 and older in Colorado.


That’d be a
real bummer.

Unlike most plants, getting caught
with weed when you’re under 21
has consequences.

Minor in Possession (MIP)

An MIP is a minor – someone under 21 years of age – in possession of drugs or alcohol. An MIP could mean fines, driver’s license suspension, loss of financial aid for higher education, community service and misdemeanor or felony charges.

In 2017, there were 2,171 arrests/citations for adolescent marijuana violations in Colorado.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

It’s illegal and unsafe to drive high, just like it’s illegal and unsafe to drink and drive. A DUI is given to someone who is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and can negatively impact your future. A driver suspected of being high will be blood tested by a police officer.

In 2019, 22% of all adolescent DUI arrests in Colorado involved marijuana.

Loss of Financial Aid

A minor marijuana charge can cause you to lose your scholarship or make you ineligible for federal financial aid, loans and work-study programs.

More than 200,000 college students have been denied financial aid because of a drug arrest or minor drug offense.

Suspension or Expulsion from School

Schools make their own rules around marijuana and the consequences for being caught on the school campus with marijuana. If you violate a school’s drug policy, you may be removed from sports teams and extracurricular activities. You could also be suspended from school, get expelled, or be required to complete drug counseling.

In the 2019-2020 school year, 80% of marijuana violations by Denver Public Schools (DPS) students resulted in suspension or expulsion.

stack of cash floating from a balloon string

You told us.

Every few years, Colorado students
take a survey that includes questions
about marijuana use. Here are some
of the things you told us:

quarter eaten donut

of Denver youth think their peers are using marijuana regularly.

half eaten donut

of Denver youth see marijuana as risky behavior.

donut with a bite taken out of it

of Denver high school students do not use marijuana regularly.

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