It is illegal for anyone under 21 to smoke, consume, buy or possess cannabis (marijuana, weed, pot).
It's important to learn some of the health impacts and consequences of using cannabis before age 21 in order to understand the risks involved.
Health Effects of Using Cannabis Before Age 21
Learning & Memory
Using cannabis regularly in your teens and early 20s may lead to physical changes in your brain. Youth who use cannabis regularly are more likely to have difficulty learning, memory issues, and lower math and reading scores. The more cannabis youth use, the harder it may be for them to learn. And the effects can last weeks after quitting. Brain development is not complete until age 25. For the best chance to reach their full potential, youth should not use retail cannabis.
Cannabis smoke has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, which is not healthy for the lungs. Cannabis can impact a teen's ability to learn new skills, even weeks after they last used it. Cannabis can also affect athletic performance and coordination.
Cannabis is addictive. It's harder to stop using cannabis if you start at a young age. Youth who start using cannabis, alcohol or other drugs - even occasionally - may be more likely to continue using later in life.
Consequences of Using Cannabis Before Age 21
Unless a physician makes a recommendation for a young person to use medical marijuana, underage retail cannabis use comes with legal consequences that can negatively impact a young person's goals and plans. Learn what these consequences are so you'll be able to help them understand how using cannabis can affect their lives now and in the future.
Minor in Possession
Much like with alcohol, if someone's caught with retail cannabis under the age of 21, they could get a Minor in Possession (MIP) charge. This could result in fines, driver's license suspension, the loss of financial aid for higher education, and misdemeanor or felony charges.
- First Offense: Up to a $100 Fine or a court order to complete a substance abuse education program.
- Second Offense: Up to a $100 Fine or a court order to complete a substance abuse education program and 24 hours of community service.
- Third Offense: Up to a $250 Fine or a court order to complete a substance abuse education program and 36 hours of community service.
Cannabis charges, including Minor in Possession (MIP), charges, can result in the loss of federal financial aid for college, including Perkins Loans, Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, PLUS Loans, and Work-Study Programs.
Many employers still prohibit cannabis use by their employees, which could mean losing a job. Losing a job also means losing a job reference, which makes future employment even harder to get
Freedom & Goals
Cannabis may impact your educational and professional goals and how successful you are in life. Because your health and future are important to you, check out the resources below and learn more about how cannabis use impacts your body and brain.