The most commonly abused prescription medication in the United States, marijuana is a dry shredded mix of the flowers, stems, and leaves of the hemp plant cannabis sativa. The mix may be green or brown with smaller areas or leaflets of a darker, purple color.


There are varying strains or classes of Marijuana, each with uniquely identifiable shapes and colors. The marijuana plant itself is uniquely identifiable by its palmate leaf with serrated leaflets. The ‘buds’ cut from the plants are often small and similar in size to a large acorn or walnut. These buds also may have small ‘hairs’ covering the surface as well as small leaflets with purplish colors.

A person using marijuana may leave behind rolling papers, small ends of burn joints, or glass or ceramic pipes coated with resin, residue from burnt marijuana.

Symptoms and Behavior

Short term symptoms of marijuana abuse may include irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving.

Common symptoms and behavioral effects of marijuana include:

  • Distorted perceptions
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulty thinking and problem solving
  • Ongoing difficulty learning and retaining memories
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness


Unlike other drugs that are notorious for binding to areas of the brain that control vital functions like breathing, marijuana mostly affects memory and coordination. Overdosing on marijuana alone is unlikely, if not entirely impossible. However, there have certainly been many documented cases of people needing medical attention after getting too high, too quickly. In cases of overconsumption, identifiable symptoms may include:

  • Escalated heart rate
  • Headache
  • Pale skin
  • Paranoid thoughts or hallucinations
  • Confusion or panic attacks


When a person who has been using marijuana heavily stops taking the drug abruptly, their body may have a volatile reaction. Marijuana withdrawal is the body’s natural process of removing marijuana and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Withdrawal symptoms can be reduced and even removed entirely by tapering the usage.