Spending Money on Weed: How Much Is Too Much?


The federal government, via the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), still classifies marijuana (cannabis) products as Schedule I controlled substances. This classification means that the DEA considers cannabis products to have no known medicinal value and to be extremely dangerous potential drugs of abuse that can result in the development of physical or psychological dependence. This is in spite of the recent legalization of marijuana for both medicinal and even recreational use in many states and many upcoming ballot decisions addressing these issues.

In addition, there is research to suggest that cannabis products do have some useful medicinal uses, although they are not the panacea that many supporters of the legalization of cannabis products claim.

Even though cannabis products may have some medicinal uses, this does not preclude them from also being potential drugs of abuse. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has developed diagnostic criteria for cannabis use disorder (a substance use disorder as a result of the use of cannabis products), intoxication from cannabis products, and withdrawal from cannabis products. While the discrepancy between the federal and state stipulations regarding the legalization and medicinal utility of marijuana may continue for some time, it is clear that many states will most likely allow both the medical and recreational use of marijuana within a very short time. How this affects the number of marijuana users from state to state remains to be seen.

However, because it is recognized that there is a legitimate substance use disorder that can result from the misuse of cannabis products, it is important to spotlight the potential downside of use of this drug. Financial burdens associated with regular cannabis use, even in states where it is legal, should be considered to be a potential downside of the increased availability of cannabis products.

Signs That One Might Be Spending Too Much Money (Marijuana or Others)

Spending large sums of money or spending too much money on any drug is not a diagnostic sign of a substance use disorder per APA; however, some of the associated ramifications of dysfunctional use of cannabis products could serve as signals that one is spending too much money on the drug and in effect using too much of it. Some of these potential indicators include:

  • Marijuana use interferes with relationships. When one uses so much cannabis that its use interferes with personal and professional relationships, this could be a sign that one is spending too much money for cannabis products and hence using too much.
  • Use of cannabis interferes with productivity. A decrease in productivity associated with the use of marijuana at work, at school, or in other important areas of life is an indicator that one is spending too much money on the drug and using too much of it.
  • Use of cannabis products results in sanctions at work, at school, or with the legal system. When someone begins to receive sanctions from important institutions related to the use of cannabis products, and these sanctions affect their functioning, they are most likely spending too much money on marijuana.
  • The person begins to break or stretch their own rules regarding use of marijuana. Many people who use marijuana recreationally have certain types of self-imposed rules or regulations that govern their use of the drug. These self-imposed regulations allow the person to control their use. For instance, some individuals may not use the drug before going to work or at all on days they work; some individuals may not use the drug at certain times of the day; and some individuals vow not to use the drug when operating machinery or driving. When a person begins to break their own self-imposed regulations regarding their use of marijuana, they are spending too much money on the drug and using too much of the drug.
  • Using marijuana slowly begins to replace other activities. A sure sign that one is spending too much money on marijuana is when the person begins to substitute marijuana use for other activities that they typically enjoy, such as socializing, going to movies, playing sports, etc.
  • The person’s memory is slowly worsening. A sign that might indicate that one is spending too much money on marijuana is having difficulty remembering things. This may indicate that the person is under the influence of the drug a significant amount of time, or it may be the result of neurobiological changes associated with chronic use of cannabis.
  • The person feels fatigued more often than normal. Feeling more fatigued than normal is a sign that the person is spending too much money on marijuana and using the drug too frequently.
  • The person doesn’t get the usual “buzz” from marijuana. Needing to smoke more and more marijuana to get the same “buzz” that they got previously is a sign that the person is beginning to spend too much money on marijuana. This is an indicator of tolerance to the drug.
  • The person feels guilty about smoking marijuana or becomes very reactive when someone mentions that they smoke too much. This is a nonclinical sign that an individual may be developing a cannabis use disorder. When individuals become very sensitive regarding their use of the drug (either feeling guilty or being reactive to suggestions that they are using too much), this behavior suggests that they are using too much of the drug and hence spending too much money on the drug. Smoking more marijuana and enjoying it less is a significant sign that one is spending too much money on the drug.
  • Health issues associated with cannabis use begin to appear. When one begins to develop issues with physical health that are related to use of cannabis products, this is a sure sign that one is spending too much money on the drug. Issues that may suggest a problem include respiratory issues, significant weight gain or loss, insomnia, the development of anxiety or depression, and even issues associated with withdrawal from cannabis, such as irritability, nervousness, heart racing, significant cravings for the drug, etc.

There are also direct financial indicators that one may be spending too much money on marijuana. Types of financial issues that should signal one has been spending too much money on marijuana include:

  1. Difficulty paying bills, putting off paying bills in order to buy marijuana, or significantly increased debt associated with use of marijuana
  2. Maxing out credit cards to buy marijuana or to pay bills
  3. Draining retirement accounts, savings accounts, etc., to get money to buy weed
  4. Borrowing money from friends and family members to continue to buy marijuana or to pay bills because marijuana interferes with their financial status
  5. Selling items in order to continue to use marijuana
  6. Engaging in illegal activities to get money for marijuana use

A sign that one has been spending too much money on marijuana products that often occurs in hindsight is the need to get treatment to stop using marijuana. Any individual who has been diagnosed with a cannabis use disorder as a result of their marijuana use has been spending too much money on marijuana or other cannabis products. Any individual who has trouble controlling their use of marijuana is most likely spending too much money on the drug. If this is the case, it’s important to get professional help.

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About The Contributor

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers

The editorial staff of Oxford Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed... Read More

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