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Is Cannabis Addictive?

Last updated on September 12th, 2023

Short answer, yes. Cannabis can be addictive, physically and psychologically. Recent studies suggest that about 9% of cannabis smokers will become dependent. The addiction rate would likely increase to 17%, if the consumer started in their teens.

Unlike other substances, cannabis is not a highly addictive drug. It requires heavy and frequent use to create dependence. Lopez-Quintero et al. found that the cumulative probability estimate of transition to dependence was 67.5% for nicotine users, 22.7% for alcohol users, 20.9% for cocaine users, and 8.9% for cannabis users.

Signs of Cannabis Addiction:

  1. Wanting and trying to quit/reduce consumption but failing
  2. Using more cannabis than intended
  3. Craving cannabis
  4. Spending a lot of time trying to get weed/going out of your way to getting weed
  5. Continuing use, even if consumption is affecting social relationships, work and/or essential activities
  6. Needing higher concentrations/consuming more to obtain the same high
  7. There is research, however, still inconclusive, suggesting problems with memory, attention and learning in the longterm
  8. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms

Why do we experience cannabis withdrawal symptoms?

After frequent use, your body has to adjust to not having that regular supply of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive in cannabis. The more you smoke, the more your brain will be accustomed to this steady supply. Once the supply stops, withdrawal symptoms may appear, which is basically your brain asking for more THC.

Withdrawal symptoms usually peak within the first week after quitting and last up to 2 weeks.

Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Diminished appetite
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Sleep difficulties, including insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Loss of focus
  • Cravings
  • Sweating, including cold sweats
  • Chills
  • Increased feelings of depression
  • Stomach problems

Compared to other drugs (Like heroin or alcohol), cannabis withdrawal symptoms are not as severe, as they are not physically life-threatening.

THC Levels on the Rise

In the 1990s, the average THC content in confiscated cannabis samples was less than 4%. In 2018, it was more than 15%. The increasing potency of weed, combined with the use of high-THC concentrates, raises concerns that the consequences of cannabis use today could be more detrimental than in the past, particularly among those who are new to cannabis use and in young people, whose brains are still developing.

Testing THC and CBD Levels in Cannabis

It’s possible to test THC and CBD levels in cannabis products such as buds and infusions. You can test your own products with one of our cannabis test kits.