Cannabis (sometimes referred to as “marijuana”) is a drug that’s made from the cannabis plant. Depending on how it’s processed, cannabis can be used for medicinal purposes or for non-medicinal (“recreational”) use.

Cannabis contains more than 100 chemicals called cannabinoids, which have effects on cell receptors in the brain and body. They can change how those cells behave and communicate with each other.

THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive (mind altering) cannabinoid and is most responsible for affecting how we feel, think and act. THC usually produces a “high” feeling, but can also have other effects including impaired memory, reduced attention span and slowed reaction times. For some people, THC can cause nervousness, paranoia or psychosis (severe mental disorder).

Another cannabinoid is CBD, short for cannabidiol. CBD has little or no psychoactive effects and can even dampen the psychotic effects of THC. CBD is being studied for its possible therapeutic uses. Cannabis products vary greatly in potency and in the ratio of THC to CBD.

Cannabis comes in a variety of forms, including dried leaves and flowers or ‘buds’, pressed resin from flowers and leaves (hashish or hash), and concentrated resin extracted with a solvent (hash oil). While often smoked, cannabis can also be vapourized. It is also sometimes used in baked goods, teas, topical creams or used to make tinctures, a concentrated liquid absorbed by placing a drop under the tongue.