When you ask people "Is marijuana addictive?" you will hear a variety of very strongly phrased responses to that question. A lot of old, crusty men will argue "Marijuana is worse than heroin!" (Hi, Jeff Sessions!), while others, mainly stoners, argue that smoking grass is harmless and impossible to get addicted to.
But, like most questions, the answer isn't so straight forward. The question shouldn't really be "Is marijuana addictive?" so much as "Can I get addicted to marijuana?"
When people ask if marijuana is addictive, they usually are referring to whether or not the chemicals in cannabis can make you addicted. Cigarettes, for example, contain nicotine, which alters an individual's brain chemistry to make them require a cig. They need it. Crave it. They suffer withdrawal symptoms when separated from it.
But is marijuana addictive? If you smoke it, will you need it? On a chemical level, no, marijuana is not addictive. The marijuana itself contains nothing in itself that will make you addicted to marijuana itself.
That is to say, naturally.
It's highly possible that someone can lace marijuana in an addictive substance, but that would make you addicted to that substance, not the marijuana itself. But the marijuana itself? It's fine.
While it won't alter your brain chemistry, marijuana can be addictive. Not like nicotine, but, rather, like any other habit you enjoy doing.
Ever hear someone say that they're addicted to a show or some type of food? That they crave it? Need it? This may sound like hyperbole. You may think "Oh, you aren't literally addicted to – "
Yes. Yes they are.
A mental addiction is one where you just crave a thing really, really badly. You enjoy it. It brings you joy. And the mind and body tells you to get it regularly. The brain becomes so used to the chemical release of joy that, without it, there is a depression.
It is in this way that marijuana is addictive. Because of the release of chemicals in the brain triggered by getting high, the body and mind crave that high. You need it.
But make no mistake: this is not a quality unique to marijuana. We have this same need for, say, salt on our food. Or chocolate.
The good news is that marijuana withdrawal will disturb your system the same way chocolate withdrawal will. You'll feel miserable, but not the same way an alcoholic without alcohol will feel... unless, of course, you have a marijuana dependency, which is a severe emotional addiction. This kind of addiction leaves you needing marijuana just to get up in the morning. This requires some counseling.
But Where's My Answer?
So, like all things, there isn't a clear answer to that question. Yes, people can get hooked on marijuana, but, then again, they can get hooked on Game of Thrones. The simple truth is that marijuana isn't nicotine, but it isn't completely harmless, either.
If you choose to smoke or consume cannabis, just understand what it is you're taking in, and how dependent you are on it to wake up in the morning.