This page, Responsible use of marijuana, is part of
This page, Responsible use of marijuana, is offered by

Responsible use of marijuana

Marijuana contains a mind-altering chemical called THC and can have powerful effects. There are different ways to use marijuana, and each one can affect you differently. No matter which method you use, take it slow and don’t use too much at once. And keep in mind that being high can affect your judgement and make it hard to do everyday activities safely.

Table of Contents

Keep kids and pets safe

Kids and pets can mistake marijuana products for regular food or candy. You can help prevent this by storing your products safely and securely. Keep anything containing marijuana in child-resistant packaging, clearly labeled. Make sure your children can’t see or reach the locked cabinet or box.

The way you store marijuana should change as children get older. Safe storage around young children may not stop a curious teenager who might want to try it.

If your kids or pets accidentally consume marijuana

Eating or drinking marijuana can make children and pets very sick. They may have problems walking or sitting up, feel sleepy and even have a hard time breathing.

  • If your child ingests marijuana, call the poison control hotline at (800) 222-1222. It’s free and you’ll be helped quickly.
  • If the reaction seems serious, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
  • If you’re worried about your pet, call your vet.

Additional Resources

Secondhand Smoke

Marijuana smoke contains many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke. So think about people around you who shouldn’t be exposed to it, especially babies, children, and pregnant women. For more information, visit the CDC website.


Edibles are products such as cookies, sodas, brownies, and candies that have been made with THC. Edibles can:

  • Take from 1 ½- 4 hours to take effect.
  • Cause effects that last longer than expected. How they affect you depends on:
    • How old you are
    • Your metabolism
    • The amount you eat
    • Medications or alcohol used at the same time

The amount of THC can be different in edible marijuana products. For example, one cookie or brownie might contain multiple “servings” in the product or package.

The effects also take longer to feel when eaten instead of smoked. So go slow, and make sure you wait long enough before you have more.

It’s important to keep kids safe if you keep edibles at home. Children have accidentally eaten marijuana products that looked like candy and treats and gotten so sick they needed emergency care.

For more information, visit the CDC.

Mixing marijuana and alcohol

When you mix marijuana and alcohol, the impact can be unpredictable. Using them together will result in greater impairment, and could also include nausea, vomiting, panic, anxiety or paranoia and hallucinations. For more information, visit the CDC.

Driving while high

Marijuana can hurt your driving skills by slowing your reaction time, coordination, and concentration. Driving under the influence is illegal and may increase your risk of getting into a car crash. And driving while high and intoxicated is even more dangerous. To learn more, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It’s okay to ride while high. Just make sure the driver isn’t.

Synthetic cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, Spike) are man-made chemicals that are sprayed on plants or sold as liquids. They are dangerous and unpredictable. Synthetic cannabinoids are not marijuana, and they affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana.

A range of chemicals are in different products, so it is hard to know what the effects will be. Although they act on the same parts of the brain as THC, synthetic marijuana’s powerful chemicals can trigger stronger, more severe reactions such as mental breaks (psychoses), leading to emergency room visits — and even death. Other side effects reported from the use of synthetic marijuana are:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathing problems
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Vomiting
  • Violent or suicidal thoughts and behaviors

For more information, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the Centers for Disease Control.