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Marijuana Anonymous (MA) – 12 Step Program

What is Marijuana Anonymous?

Marijuana Anonymous is a 12-step program of recovery for individuals who struggled with marijuana addiction. The fellowship utilizes the same steps and traditions as Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs. Whether they have lost interest in other activities, watched their dreams vanish or realize that their lives revolve around getting marijuana and getting high, Marijuana Anonymous is an organization that helps people recover from their addiction.

Throughout history, people are taught that marijuana isn’t addictive and it’s okay to use and if someone is addicted to it, there is something wrong with them. This is not the way Marijuana Anonymous views marijuana addiction. It is treated as an illness or addiction, just as severe as anything else, that will only progressively get worse if left untreated. Because addiction can be a slow process for some, identifying whether not there is a problem is the first step to recovery.

When did Marijuana Anonymous begin?

The program of Marijuana Anonymous didn’t officially begin until June 1989. There were three organizations that addressed marijuana addiction: Marijuana Anonymous, Marijuana Smokers Anonymous and Marijuana Addicts Anonymous. When delegates from each group met in June, some of these individuals didn’t even know the other groups existed. The meeting took place because instead of fighting one another, they decided to try and unify the groups so that there was only one, despite how long each fellowship had been around.

Although delegates from each group had concerns as to whether or not they shared the kind of program or focused on utilizing the 12 steps and 12 traditions, they came to an agreement, with some compromises on the format of the organization, and unified into Marijuana Anonymous. The fellowship held their next conference as one group in October 1989, where they were contacted by another group in New Zealand. This had justified that the organization was unknowingly getting larger and had officially gone worldwide.

Each group had started small in the beginning. Some group’s held meetings in members’ living rooms while others sat and waited for weeks for at least one marijuana addict to join them. Knowing that Marijuana Anonymous had reached other countries was proving that the fellowship was working. The group compromised on using the same 12-step format as other groups like Alcoholics Anonymous because these organizations had already measured success in recovering from addiction.

How does Marijuana Anonymous work?

Because the public and media enforce the idea that marijuana isn’t a problem, Marijuana Anonymous emphasizes the fact that individuals who had a problem need to accept that it is a problem. It is important to allow individuals their own opportunity to decide whether or not they have a problem with marijuana. In the fellowship, members provide newcomers with the strength and hope that they too can avoid marijuana use and recovery is possible to those who work the program. Members are also encouraged to begin reading some of the literature available, including “Life With Hope: 12 Step Workbook” and “Life with Hope: A Return to Living Through the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions of Marijuana Anonymous, 3rd edition.”

There is no cure for marijuana addiction; the only way to recover from the addiction is by working the program and changing destructive behaviors, because willpower alone is never enough. While Marijuana Anonymous does not require abstinence from all other drugs and alcohol, it is strongly recommended that individuals examine their use of these other substances, as they can be an introduction to a relapse.

The program of Marijuana Anonymous is about more than just abstaining from using marijuana. The fellowship allows members to begin recovery, which involves improving relationships, finding serenity and bettering themselves all around. One of the biggest suggestions in the program is to obtain a sponsor to help work the steps of the program. A sponsor is not required, but he or she can help newcomers begin building trust again, communicate effectively and be a close contact for talking about problems more discretely or answering any questions. Sponsors can provide members with their own tools of recovery and how they work their program, as well as help members gain a better understanding of what the program is about.

Why does Marijuana Anonymous work?

Utilizing a 12-step format for the recovery process is one of the reasons the program of Marijuana Anonymous is so effective. Another reason the program works so well for many members is because it addresses the stigma that marijuana is not addictive, when experiences from members show that it is. The truth of the matter is, some individuals can use marijuana and not have a problem; members of Marijuana Anonymous cannot. Because the public is trained to believe there are no psychological or physiological effects of marijuana use, before individuals join the fellowship, they are left feeling alone and isolated with their problems due to marijuana use.

Marijuana Anonymous is a safe place for marijuana addicts to share their struggles and problems with other addicts and reminds them that they are not alone. Because it’s marijuana and not any other drug, some members who have tried other 12-step groups have felt ridiculed, as they were told marijuana isn’t a drug or marijuana addiction isn’t real. In the meetings of Marijuana Anonymous, members can feel accepted into a fellowship whose only goal is to help individuals recover from their marijuana addiction.

When members join the fellowship, it is important to remember that abstinence from marijuana can bring emotional and mental changes and can last weeks to months. Building a strong support system in the program can help members address these feelings of fear, isolation and depression, so that they have the tools to successfully recover and avoid using marijuana.

Frequently Asked Questions about Marijuana Anonymous

If you’re new to Marijuana Anonymous, here are a few of the most common questions and answers about the program:

How much does it cost to join?

Marijuana Anonymous has no dues, costs or fees for membership. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using marijuana. Though the group does not accept outside contributions of any kinds, they are fully self-supporting and rely on the contributions of existing members. When a member has the opportunity to give what they can, they are encouraged to but never required to.

What does a higher power mean?

A higher power is part of the 12-step program because it is important for members of Marijuana Anonymous when they stop using marijuana. It does not have to be called God or any other form of organized religion. The fellowship simply asks members to find any concept of a higher power that can help provide them with support, strength and willpower to continue to not use marijuana. All concepts of a higher power are accepted in the program.

Are there meetings online?

Marijuana Anonymous does still have face-to-face meetings available for members. For individuals who are unable to physically attend a meeting, there are virtual meetings and phone meetings available at all times of the day. A directory of all meetings can be found on the official website, here.

What are the 12 questions of Marijuana Anonymous?

Many individuals may struggle with the idea that they may have a marijuana addiction, usually because of the stigma associated with this idea. While marijuana addiction is real, it is important for incoming members to make this decision for themselves as to whether or not they have a problem. The 12 questions of Marijuana Anonymous can help members identify if they have a problem or not.

  1. Has smoking pot stopped being fun?
  2. Do you ever get high alone?
  3. Is it hard for you to imagine a life without marijuana?
  4. Do you find that your friends are determined by your marijuana use?
  5. Do you use marijuana to avoid dealing with your problems?
  6. Do you smoke pot to cope with your feelings?
  7. Does your marijuana use let you live in a privately defined world?
  8. Have you ever failed to keep promises you made about cutting down or controlling your use of marijuana?
  9. Has your use of marijuana caused problems with memory, concentration, or motivation?
  10. When your stash is nearly empty, do you feel anxious or worried about how to get more?
  11. Do you plan your life around your marijuana use?
  12. Have friends or relatives ever complained that your using is damaging your relationship with them?

12 Steps of Marijuana Anonymous

1. We admitted we were powerless over marijuana, that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to marijuana addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


12 Traditions or Marijuana Anonymous

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon MA unity.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority, a loving God whose expression may come through in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

3. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using marijuana.

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or MA as a whole.

5. Each group has but one primary purpose, to carry its message to the marijuana addict who still suffers.

6. MA groups ought never endorse, finance, or lend the MA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

7. Every MA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Marijuana Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9. MA, as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. Marijuana Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the MA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11. Our public relations policy is based upon attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, TV, film, and other public media. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all fellow MA members.

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.


Read more about 12-step programs for substance abuse.

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