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Cannabis is the name of a group of plants that produce a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Different parts of the plant can be consumed in different ways, and each one is known as something different. The most common forms are marijuana and hashish (hash).

This can help if:

  • you want to know what cannabis is
  • you don’t understand the difference between cannabis, weed, marijuana, pot, etc.
  • you’re worried about someone who’s using cannabis frequently.
Cannabis plant

What is cannabis?

‘Cannabis’ refers to a group of plants that produce the chemical THC. There are two main types of plant that do this: cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. There are also different ways THC can be consumed:

  • Through the leaves. This is done by drying the leaves and then either smoking or eating them. Common names for cannabis leaf include marijuana, weed, pot, Mary Jane, MJ, grass, herb, ganja, reef, bud.
  • From the resin of the flower. This is a sticky substance that is taken from the flower of the plant and either smoked in a pipe or vaporised through water. It’s known as hashish, or hash.

Cannabis is classified as a depressant, which means it slows down your body, including messages sent to and from your brain.

What does cannabis do to you?

Using cannabis (of any kind) can make you feel:

  • happy and excited
  • unable to concentrate
  • relaxed and confident
  • more talkative than usual
  • giggly
  • anxious or paranoid.

There are also physical symptoms, such as:

  • increased hunger
  • red or bloodshot eyes
  • increased heart rate
  • dry mouth
  • dizziness.

Cannabis affects your response time, which means you shouldn’t drive, operate heavy machinery, or try and look after someone else if you’ve been using it.

If you use cannabis too much over a long period of time, you might end up with:

  • mental health issues such as depression
  • sleep problems
  • sexual problems
  • psychosis or schizophrenia (in some cases)
  • lung problems (if you smoke it regularly).

Medical marijuana

It’s also worth noting that more and more people now use cannabis for medicinal purposes, as it is known to offer pain relief for some chronic conditions, as well as stimulate the appetite for people who are sick and may not feel like eating (such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy). Despite evidence that cannabis has medical benefits, you should always discuss your options for medical treatment with your doctor and use medical cannabis under their supervision.

How do I know if it’s a problem?

Cannabis isn’t considered a physically addictive drug, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get hooked on using it all the time. The following are some signs of overuse:

  • You think all the time about getting high on cannabis.
  • You feel anxious if you can’t get any cannabis.
  • Your drug use is starting to affect your relationships with other people (such as causing fights with family or partners).
  • You think you need cannabis to feel ‘normal’ or relaxed.

If any of these signs apply to you, it’s important that you talk to a doctor or a mental heath professional about your use of cannabis.

What can I do now?