What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is derived from the plant Cannabis sativa. The main active ingredient responsible for the ‘high’ produced by cannabis is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Cannabis is produced in three main forms:
- Cannabis herb (also known as marijuana) — the dried flowering tops/buds and leaves of the cannabis plant.
- Cannabis resin (also known as hashish) — the resin (a secreted gum) of the cannabis plant.
- Cannabis oil (also known as hash oil) — a thick oil obtained from hashish.
While hashish and hash oil contain more THC than marijuana, they are not widely used in Australia. Cannabis is typically smoked and often mixed with tobacco. It is also sometimes added to food and eaten. Cannabis is also known as grass, pot, dope, weed, joints, mull, hydro, yarndi, ganja, bud, or green.
How many young people have tried it?
According to the 2014 Australian secondary schools' survey, 1 in 7 students (13.6%) aged 12-17 used cannabis last year.
“The last time I had a joint was one of the worst nights of my life. I felt like I wasn’t aware of time and that I was losing my mind. My heart was racing and I thought I was going to have a heart attack. It’s difficult to explain but it was a truly terrifying experience that has made me never want to touch weed again.” —Thomas, 15
What are the effects?
If smoked, the effects can come on quickly as the drug is rapidly absorbed into the lungs and can enter the bloodstream within minutes.
The effects of cannabis vary, but may include:
- Loss of inhibitions
- Increased appetite
- Loss of co-ordination
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dryness of the mouth and throat
- ‘Greening out’ (sweaty, dizzy, nauseous, vomiting)
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Paranoia (feeling extremely suspicious)
- Psychosis (a serious mental illness that causes people to misinterpret or confuse reality).
- Problems with memory and learning
- Dependence (addiction)
- Decreased motivation and concentration
- Increased risk of respiratory diseases
Cannabis: Effects on the Body & Mind
Myth: It is safe to drive after using cannabis
Using cannabis can increase the likelihood of a car crash by 300%. Cannabis slows down thinking, reflexes and reduces concentration and co-ordination. As a result, cannabis affects performance on a range of tasks and activities.
This factsheet was developed following expert review by researchers at the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use and National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW.
- Credit to the Home Office for quotes adapted from Talk to Frank
- Credit to 2and2 for Cannabis slows you down infographic.