Marijuana—also called weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, Mary Jane, and a vast number of other slang terms—is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried flowers of Cannabis sativa. Some people smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints; in pipes, water pipes (sometimes called bongs), or in blunts (marijuana rolled in cigar wraps). 1 Marijuana can also be used to brew tea and, particularly when it is sold or consumed for medicinal purposes, is frequently mixed into foods (edibles) such as brownies, cookies, or candies. Vaporizers are also increasingly used to consume marijuana. Stronger forms of marijuana include sinsemilla (from specially tended female plants) and concentrated resins containing high doses of marijuana’s active ingredients, including honeylike hash oil, waxy budder, and hard amberlike shatter. These resins are increasingly popular among those who use them both recreationally and medically.
The main psychoactive(mind-altering) chemical in marijuana, responsible for most of the intoxicating effects that people seek, is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The chemical is found in resin produced by the leaves and buds primarily of the female cannabis plant. The plant also contains more than 500 other chemicals, including more than 100 compounds that are chemically related to THC, called cannabinoids. 2
Cannabis is used for the psychoactive (mind and mood-altering) effects of THC and other active ingredients. THC is the chemical in cannabis that makes you feel “high”.
Hash oil is a thick, oily liquid, golden brown to black in colour, which is extracted from cannabis. Hash oil is the strongest form of cannabis.
What does cannabis look like?
There are three main forms of psychoactive cannabis: marijuana, hashish and hash oil.
The THC in cannabis is absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the lungs (if smoked), or through the walls of the stomach and intestines (if eaten). The bloodstream carries the THC to the brain, producing the “high” effects. Drugs inhaled get into the bloodstream quicker than those eaten. This means that the effects of cannabis when smoked occur more rapidly than when eaten.
Cannabis has been used for medical purposes for many centuries. It has been reported that cannabis may be useful to help conditions such as:
Giving up cannabis after regular, heavy use over a long time is challenging, because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Please seek advice from a health professional.
Cannabis is sometimes used to help with the ‘come down’ effects of stimulant drugs, such as ice, speed and ecstasy.
When smoked or vaporised, the effects are usually felt straight away. 6 There are health concerns about the impact of smoking cannabis, especially in the long term. This is particularly the case if mixed with tobacco.
More on Polydrug use
Cannabis affects every individual differently. Even the same person may have a different experience on separate occasions or over their lifetime.
Cannabis use may worsen the course of bipolar disorder, and those who are predisposed to experiencing psychosis (a common symptom of schizophrenia), may be at an increased risk of cannabis-induced psychosis. 11, 12 Psychosis symptoms include delusions, hallucinations and seeing or hearing things that do not exist or are distorted.
Cannabis is a cannabinoid drug. The number of different cannabinoids in the cannabis sativa plant is still being researched, but it primarily contains the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (delta9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD). 1 It’s most commonly known as marijuana.
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.