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Cannabis Facts

48% of UTK students have never used marijuana/cannabis.

(2019 UTK ACHA-NCHA III, n = 666)


  • Cannabis: All products derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. “Cannabis” will be used throughout this webpage as a blanket term.
  • Marijuana: Parts of the Cannabis sativa plant that include more than 0.3% of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that is associated with being high.
  • Hemp: Parts of the Cannabis sativa plant that include very little THC (0.3% or less). Hemp has been legalized for industrial use.


  • Short-term effects: include euphoria, altered senses, problems with memory and learning, loss of coordination, increased heart rate and appetite, and anxiety
  • Mental health considerations: An association has been found between cannabis use and increased risk of depression, schizophrenia, and other psychotic disorders in people who are predisposed to these conditions.
  • Risks of high-potency THC: The amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis has been increasing over the past few decades. This may explain the rise in ER visits involving cannabis use.

Methods of use

Various methods of use can impact the intensity and effects of cannabis. Common methods of use are described below:

Passes into the bloodstream quickly and effects are generally felt immediately. Frequent smoking has been associated with respiratory problems, such as a chronic cough, phlegm, and higher risk of lung infection.

Highly-potent THC concentrates that are vaporized and inhaled. Products come in various forms, such as oil, wax, or a hard solid (“shatter”). Concentrates are more likely to include contaminants, such as butane and other solvents. THC levels are extremely high in concentrates, ranging from 39 – 80% THC. Higher doses of THC are associated with adverse effects, such as anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis.

Absorbed more slowly by the body, generally taking 30 minutes to 1 hour to feel the effects. People often consume more than intended due to this delayed reaction time, causing unpleasant and adverse effects.

Tolerance, dependence, and addiction

Although tolerance, dependence, and addiction are interrelated, they are distinct conditions. Learn how to define and identify them by using the dropdown menu below.

Like any other substance, individuals who use cannabis regularly are likely to develop a tolerance. This means that they will need more to feel the same effects. As tolerance to cannabis continues to increase, our risk of developing cannabis dependence also increases.

Check out the T-Break Guide to learn more about taking a tolerance break.

Cannabis dependence occurs when the brain adapts to large quantities and frequent use of the drug. Once the brain adapts to these conditions, it produces less of its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters and is less sensitive to them. If someone stops using cannabis, and withdrawal symptoms occur, this indicates that this person is experiencing cannabis dependence. Although dependence does not constitute addiction, dependence increases our risk of experiencing addiction.

Signs of cannabis withdrawal are: irritability, anxiety, depressed mood, sleep difficulty, decreased appetite or weight loss, restlessness, and physical discomfort.

Addiction occurs when someone cannot stop using a drug even though it is negatively impacting their life. Signs of addiction include any one of the following symptoms:

  • the inability to reduce or stop using
  • failure to meet obligations (e.g. work, social, or family)
  • the presence of health problems related to use
  • the presence of relationship problems related to use

Legal consequences

In the state of Tennessee, marijuana products (above 0.3% THC), for both medical and nonmedical use, are illegal. They are classified as a Schedule VI substance in the state.

  • Possession: Possession of a 1/2 ounce of pot or less is a misdemeanor in the state of TN. Consequences include up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.
  • Distribution: The sale or possession with intent to distribute quantities ranging from a 1/2 ounce – 10 pounds is a Class E felony. Consequences include 1 – 6 years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

Learn More


T-Break Guide: A guide to help support you on a cannabis tolerance break, by the University of Vermont. Web-based and printable versions available.

Marijuana Anonymous: Offers online recovery groups and guidance for individuals who seek to maintain abstinence from cannabis products.

Sources American College Health Association National College Health Assessment III