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Who Influences Adolescent Marijuana Use?

Parents and peers can influence an adolescent’s marijuana use, both positively and negatively.


What parents say and do matters to adolescents. Early and ongoing communication is important, as is maintaining a positive and supportive relationship. Communicating and enforcing rules and monitoring an adolescent’s friends and activities are useful strategies to prevent marijuana use. Parents can protect their teens from using marijuana by simply disapproving of its use. Being a good role model matters as well. Parents should learn about how marijuana and other drugs work, the way that adolescents talk about marijuana, the types of marijuana, and how teens are using it. 


An adolescent’s peers can both encourage and discourage marijuana use. Having friends who use marijuana (or even believing they do) increases the risk for an adolescent’s use. However, having more friends who do not use marijuana, or who disapprove of it, can protect an adolescent. Adolescents can also be protected by feeling socially connected with their peer group and believing that their friends will “do what is right.” More research is needed on social networks and types of friendships to fully understand how peers may influence marijuana use.


Good sleep habits, participation in sports, strong refusal skills, and the ability to manage emotions are all associated with lower adolescent marijuana use. By developing healthy habits, participating in athletics, and building social and emotional skills, youth can lower their risk of using marijuana.  

Signs of Marijuana Use

Learning the signs of current and long-term marijuana use is helpful for peers, parents, and other caring adults. Immediate signs of marijuana use may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Slowed responses 
  • Distorted sensory perceptions
  • Giddiness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased appetite

Longer-term changes in behavior may mean that an adolescent is developing a marijuana problem:

  • Declining academic performance and missing class
  • Changes in friends and peer group
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits and being careless with grooming
  • Worsening relationships with family and friends
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities


Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on April 23, 2019