How To Spot a Marijuana User

Most of the time spotting a marijuana user can be a pretty easy thing if you know what you’re looking for. The signs can be clear if you’re properly educated. While marijuana remains the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States it’s important to be able to spot a marijuana user, especially in the case of someone who is close to you. Unlike some of the other popular drugs, a marijuana habit is not that easy to hide. For starters it has a very strong and distinct smell to it that is hard to miss. Almost everybody is familiar with this smell. This would be a major indication that someone is using, if you happen to detect the smell from their presence. However, sometimes a user will tend to cover up the smell with perfume or cologne, or wait until the smell dissipates before coming around people who don’t use.

Some Signs of Marijuana Use

Some signs of marijuana use include:

  • Bloodshot eyes or half closed eyes, or both
  • Increased heart rate
  • Strongly increased appetite
  • Memory impairment
  • Trouble retaining information
  • Difficulty paying attention or solving problems
  • Study difficulties
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Giddy
  • Artificially sociable
  • Laughing for no reason
  • Euphoric
  • Foggy memory
  • Dizziness
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of train of thought during a conversation
  • Slow movement
  • Sleeping a lot
  • Marijuana paraphernalia such as bongs (pipes or water pipes), joint (hand rolled weed-filled cigarettes), rolling papers and blunts (weed-filled cigars)

These are just the obvious outward signs to look out for. of course there are other signs that might be a bit harder to detect and run a bit more personal to the individual. It really depends on the person, too, and how well they are at hiding their drug habit. However, marijuana does have a high potential to make the user sort of careless, which would mean that their habits of hiding their use might drop from time to time.

Behavioral Changes

When it comes to behavioral changes, keep in mind that again this can be an individual thing and having a habit of using marijuana may affect one person differently than another or might take a while longer to affect someone’s general behavior. It also has to do with and depend on the level of marijuana use, etc.

The behavioral changes with marijuana users can also be classified as the use of most other drugs. A drug habit will slowly, but surely, change the way that the user acts and behaves. A perfect example of this is in the person’s motivation. If somebody is just straightforwardly not interested in the things or activities or even people that they used to have interest in then this could be a clear sign of marijuana use. Lack of motivation is very common with drug use, specifically and especially marijuana.

Another sign of behavioral change would be the person’s obligations not being met. This could show up in unpaid bills that the person just forgot to pay. Or it could show up in failing to meet social obligations. This could show up with daily routine type of errands, like cooking for children, grocery shopping when needed or even cleaning and doing laundry. As the person’s drug habit begins to consume their life and attention more and more, so does their responsibilities begin to fall off more and more.

Financial problems is another one. Financial problems isn’t always something that comes up with a user. However, it is somewhat likely, especially with a user who has become addicted and doesn’t make a lot of money. If someone that you are suspicious of is having unjustified financial difficulties then it would serve you right to dig deeper into the issue. Or if somebody you already suspect of using starts asking to borrow money then it is pretty obvious that something is up.

Additionally, a big sign is if the person starts hanging around a whole new social circle with no explanation. This could have a lot to do with the fact that their new group of friends uses marijuana as well.

A major aspect of all of this is in the case of the user acting secretive. Especially in the case of your child. Though it is reasonable that somebody- anybody would of course deserve a respectful amount of privacy, if they are acting in a manner that is overboard with secrecy then there’s a good chance they’re using drugs. Maybe they lie about who they are hanging out with, etc. Just keep an eye out and be observant.

Also, look out for lazy behavior. This is a huge indicator of particularly a marijuana habit. If the person you suspect is lounging around the house more than they used to, acting like a couch potato, and just hanging out with zero interest of producing anything of significance and they seem completely fine with that then marijuana could be at the root of this. This type of behavior backed by a totally content mood is typical of pot smokers, no matter what age.

In the case of slang, watch out for this person using the following terms: 420, hammer, blunt, bomb, bud, buddha, cheeba, chronic, crippy, dank, dope, ganja, hydro, Mary Jane, MJ, j, keep, joint, herbal refreshment, nugget, nib, schwag, toke, reefer, purp, spliff, spliffy, wacky tobaccy, whifty and woolies. These are just some from a long list of slang related to marijuana. If it seems like your teenage kid is talking in code with their friends then this might be the reason why.

The munchies are another obvious sign. The marijuana user will tend to get a strong craving for particularly fatty foods. Foods that are high in salt, sometimes foods that are high in sugar, but always foods that are high in fat. This is the body’s way of walling off the toxins with fat. This is the body’s natural response to the drug. Watch out for this person stuffing their face often and more than they used to. The marijuana user will usually be less conscientious about the foods they eat as well as the amount of food they eat. Keep this in mind when observing the person who you think might be using.

What To Do Once Spotted

Once you have spotted that the person is using marijuana, then you should talk to them immediately. Get into a good communication exchange with them about what is going on with them, what is driving them to use, etc. Urge them to seek help for their drug habit. Inform them of the dangers of smoking pot and make it clear to them that you’re there to help. By providing a safe space where they can communicate about their problems, why they use, etc, you are making room for them to decide to get help. This is important, the fact that they have someone to talk to. Particularly in the case of teens, lots of times they don’t have a friend who doesn’t use. Part of the reason why they use might have to do with the fact that they don’t have anyone to have a concrete conversation with about what’s going on in their life. Help them to get help with their drug habit.

By Robert O. Newman II, ICDAC, ICPS, CIP