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What is Cannabis Use Disorder (Marijuana Addiction)?

Cannabis use disorder, also known as marijuana addiction, is a problematic pattern of cannabis use leading to significant impairment or distress, as demonstrated by at least two of the following signs or symptoms occurring within a 12-month period:

  • Cannabis is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to reduce or control cannabis use.
  • Excessive time spent to obtain cannabis, use cannabis, or recover from its effects.
  • Craving, or a strong desire to use cannabis.
  • Recurrent cannabis use resulting in a failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school or home.
  • Continued cannabis use despite having persistent or recurrent social/interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of cannabis.
  • Important social, occupational or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of cannabis use.
  • Recurrent cannabis use in situations in which it is physically hazardous to consume cannabis.
  • Cannabis use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by cannabis.
  • Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
    • A need for increased amounts of cannabis to achieve intoxication or desired effect.
    • Markedly diminished effect with continued use or the same amount of cannabis.
  • Withdrawal, as demonstrated by either of the following:
    • Characteristic withdrawal syndrome for cannabis.
    • Cannabis is taken to relive or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Cannabis use disorder is rated as mild with the presence of 2-3 symptoms, moderate with 4-5 symptoms, and severe with 6 or more symptoms.

The risk of developing cannabis dependence is around 1 in 10 for anyone who uses cannabis. The earlier the age of first use, the more often cannabis has been used, and the longer it has been used, the higher the risk of dependence.

Mental Health Library Sources:

Information included in all topics of the Mental Health Library comes from the Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-5 and Kaplan & Sadock’s Concise Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry. Complete diagnostic and treatment information may be found within these publications.


Information within the Mental Health Library is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis purposes. Rather, it is provided as a public educational service to make people aware of mental health conditions. Please consult a qualified mental health professional for a diagnosis of any suspected mental health illness.

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