Cannabis/ Hash


Marijuana, mary jane, BC bud, blunt, chronic, J, jay, joint, hemp, pot, grass, herb, 420, dope, THC, weed, reefer, ganja, gangster, skunk, hydro, hash oil, weed oil, hash brownies, grease, boom, honey oil, K2, spice, poppers, shatter, budder

What is it?

Cannabis is the scientific name for the hemp plant. Its leaves and flowers, often called marijuana contain a psychoactive (mind-altering) resin that can affect how we think, feel and act. Cannabis comes in various forms, including: • Dried flowers or ‘buds’ (marijuana) • Pressed resin from flowers and leaves (hashish or hash) • Concentrated ‘resin’ extracted with a solvent (hash oil) Cannabis is often smoked (as a 'joint'), or through a pipe or bong (water pipe). It can also be vapourized ('vaped') into a mist. Some people bake cake, cookies or other foods with cannabis, or make tea with it, while others extract it into alcohol as a tincture, a concentrated liquid absorbed by placing a drop under the tongue.

How does it work?

Cannabis leaves and flowers have a resin containing unique molecules called cannabinoids. There are more than 60 types of cannabinoids, but the best known, and the one with the most significant psychoactive effect, is commonly called THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). When cannabis is inhaled, chemicals called cannabinoids are absorbed through the lungs and into the bloodstream, producing almost immediate effects which generally last a few hours. When swallowed, cannabinoids are absorbed through the stomach and intestine. This process takes longer. It makes it more difficult for the user to carefully manage the dose, since it takes to be felt, and effects are stronger and last much longer. The effects of cannabis can be very different for different people. One person may feel relaxed, another full of energy, and another anxious. Sometimes the same person will have a different experience on a different occasion. A lot depends on the type and amount of cannabis we use at a given time. Other factors that affect how you respond include: past experiences with cannabis use, present mood and surroundings, plant strain and your biochemistry, mood or mindset, mental and physical health, and diet.

What are the associated risks and health effects?

Cannabis can be both beneficial and harmful to your health. Research shows that cannabis can help relieve the symptoms of some medical conditions such as pain, nausea, and muscle spasms. Many people who use cannabis socially say it helps them relax and increases their sense of well-being. But some people may feel anxious after using cannabis, affecting their interactions with others. And for a few hours after smoking a joint, a person may have a hard time remembering things, which may have an impact on friendships. Cannabis may increase a person’s heart rate and reduce blood pressure. Cannabis use may lead to impairment which can negatively affect driving ability. Heavy use is associated with a variety of harms including experiencing psychotic symptoms. Cannabis use may trigger an early onset of schizophrenia in those who are vulnerable to the disorder because of a personal or family history with the condition. Cannabis use can also increase the risk of making bad decisions, such as driving before the effects have completely worn off. And while cannabis may help to relieve stress or anxiety, continuing to use it as a coping strategy may harm our health and relationships. Cannabis use, especially regular use, by young people has particular risks. Like other psychoactive drugs, cannabis can interfere with normal brain development. Early use can also interfere with developing normal patterns of social interaction with peers. Like tobacco smoke, cannabis smoke contains cancer-causing toxins, though the risk of developing some cancers is less for cannabis users, partly because they tend to smoke less than tobacco users. Heavy long-term use can cause respiratory problems, including shortness of breath, wheezing and chronic bronchitis. The practice of inhaling cannabis deeply and holding it in the lungs may lead to greater lung irritation without significantly increasing the desired effects. Heavy cannabis use can lead to dependence. This means the person has come to rely on the effects of cannabis to feel normal and function during the day. Some people may develop tolerance to the effects of cannabis. This means they need an increasing amount of cannabis to get the effect they want. Some users experience withdrawal effects when they stop using cannabis after a period of regular use such as irritability, loss of appetite, or difficulty sleeping.


[2014] This fact sheet was produced by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC on behalf of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information. An excerpt has been reproduced here with permission. To read the full fact sheet and for more helpful substance use and mental health resources, please visit
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