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 a drug that comes from Indian hemp plants such as Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. The main active chemical in cannabis is THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol).
Cannabis is a depressant drug. Depressant drugs do not necessarily make you feel depressed. Rather, they slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages going between the brain and the body. When large doses of cannabis are taken it may also produce hallucinogenic effects.
The different forms of cannabis are used in different ways:
Cannabis and hash can also be smoked in a vaporiser. Vaporisers heat cannabis to temperatures that release its active ingredients while minimising the toxins associated with burning.
For information on synthetic cannabinoids, see our “Legal high” facts page.
The effects of cannabis might include:
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.
Effects of cannabis
Cannabis + alcohol: nausea, vomiting. 13
Individuals with a family history of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder – or who currently experience symptoms of these conditions – should avoid using cannabis. 11, 12
The effects of taking cannabis with other drugs − including over-the-counter or prescribed medications − can be unpredictable, and could cause: