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Get the facts about marijuanaLearn More About Marijuana. The Alaska Legislature and other state agencies are still finalizing laws and regulations. Learn how they might affect you.
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Get the Facts - Alaska DHSS Marijuana PSA - 2016

Public Education Materials

The documents, videos and audio files below are available to download, print or order for more information on marijuana use.

Fact Sheets

Parents' Guide for Talking with Youth About Marijuana


National Resources

Public Health Resources

Is Marijuana Safe? FAQs

Is smoking marijuana safe?

Heavy marijuana smoking (daily or near daily) is strongly associated with chronic bronchitis, including chronic cough, sputum production, and wheezing.[1] Marijuana smoke, both firsthand and secondhand, contains many of the same cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco smoke.[1] It is not yet clear whether marijuana smoke is as dangerous to people’s health as tobacco smoke.

Is vaping or vaporizing safer than smoking marijuana?

Vaping devices heat marijuana to a temperature that releases the active compounds by creating an aerosol or “vapor” without burning the plant material. Some vape pens (i.e., e-cigarettes) heat up concentrated cannabis oil or wax, which can deliver much higher doses of THC than smoking dry plant material. Vaping-Associated Pulmonary Illness Outbreak: On December 3, 2019, Alaska announced its first case of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI). At this time, no other cases have been identified in the state. For more information regarding EVALI please visit the Section of Epidemiology page.

Is smoking marijuana through a water pipe or bong safer than smoking without a filter?

When using a water pipe or bong, the smoke goes through water before a person inhales. Recent research suggests that the water filters out THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes a person feel high. The limited research shows that the water is better at filtering out THC than potentially harmful tars.[3] This may mean a smoker using a bong may inhale more harmful tars to get the same dose of THC as someone smoking a joint. More research is needed to understand the health risks associated with smoking marijuana through a water pipe.[1]

Is it safe to eat or drink marijuana-infused products?

Though smoking marijuana has the added risk of harmful smoke exposure, eating or drinking marijuana still exposes the user to THC, the chemical that makes the user feel high.

The effects of marijuana peak just minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke or aerosol. However, the effects can peak up to four hours after eating or drinking edibles that contain THC. This delayed effect can make it hard for the user to know how much they should take. For new users, smoking, eating or drinking even one, 5 milligram serving of marijuana is likely to cause impairment. This affects the user’s ability to drive, bike, or perform other safety-sensitive activities.[1] THC can affect people differently, so the user needs to be aware of the amount consumed and its impairing effects.

Also, the effects from eating or drinking marijuana can last up to 10 hours. This means that someone can be impaired for a long time after eating or drinking marijuana.[1] Wait at least eight hours after eating or drinking less than 18 milligrams of THC before driving, biking or performing other safety-sensitive activities. If you have consumed more than 18mg of THC, wait longer than eight hours.[1]

What happens if you consume alcohol and marijuana at the same time?

Using alcohol and marijuana at the same time may result in greater impairment than either one alone.[1] Do not drive, bike, or perform any other safety-sensitive activities after using any form of marijuana (with or without alcohol).

Is using hash oil (dabbing) safe?

Hash oil can have up to 80% THC concentration. Consuming this highly concentrated form of THC increases the risk of an unpredictable high and negative physical and emotional reactions. Since dabbing only became more common recently, the associated health risks have not been well studied.

Are synthetic marijuana substances the same as marijuana?

No. Synthetic marijuana substances, sold under names like “spice” or “K2,” are not the same as marijuana. Synthetic marijuana may cause elevated heart rates and blood pressure, drowsiness, agitation, hallucinations, seizures, tremors (shaking), vomiting, paranoia, loss of physical control, and comas.

Has the potency of marijuana changed over the years?

Yes. Today, some marijuana products are significantly more potent than the marijuana of the past. Be aware of the THC concentration you are using to avoid accidentally consuming too much.

Is marijuana addictive?

Marijuana use can, in some cases, lead to addiction. This means that a person can’t easily control or stop marijuana use even though it interferes with their daily life. Youth who begin using marijuana regularly are more likely to become addicted than those who wait until adulthood to use. Find more information about heavy cannabis use and potential for addiction.

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Media Inquires
For media inquiries, please contact the Department of Health and Social Services Public Information Team.

Inquiries about the Medical Marijuana Registry
For medical marijuana registry inquiries, please contact



  1. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee's Monitoring Health Concerns Related to Marijuana in Colorado: 2014. Public health statements include information on dose response, cognitive, mental health, respiratory, extra-pulmonary effects, injury and impacts on youth and pregnant/breastfeeding women.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens.
  3. Gieringer, D. (2000). Marijuana Water Pipe and Vaporizer Study. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
  4. CBS Denver: Vets Seeing More Dogs Eating Edible Marijuana.
  5. Asbridge, M. et al. (2012). Acute cannabis consumption and motor vehicle collision risk: systematic review of observational studies and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal.
  6. Sontineni, S. P. et al. (2009). Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome: Clinical diagnosis of an underrecognised manifestation of chronic cannabis abuse. World Journal of Gastroenterology.
  7. American Academy of Pediatrics, Policy statement in Pediatrics 2012, Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Common resources include the Drug Facts: Marijuana, Marijuana Research Report, and the Drug Facts: Is Marijuana Medicine?.
  9. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
  10. 2017 Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
  11. Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Emergency Regulations, February 24, 2015.
  12. Volkov ND, et al. Adverse health effects of marijuana use. N Engl J Med 2014; 370:2219-27.
  18. National Institute of Drug Abuse. What are marijuana’s long-term effects on the brain? 2019; publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-are-marijuanas-long-term-effects-brain.
  19. Partnership for a Drug-Free Kids: (accessed June 2015).
  20. Volkow, ND, et al. Adverse health effects of marijuana use. N. Engl. J. Med. 2014 Jun; 370:2219-2227.
  21. Meier MH, Caspi A, Ambler A, et al. Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 2012;109(40):E2657–64.


The State of Alaska acknowledges the State of Colorado and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for sharing their content and allowing it to be used on

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