Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Marijuana (cannabis)

2-minute read

Cannabis is a general name for drugs like marijuana, hash and hashish oil that are made from the plant Cannabis sativa. It’s the most commonly used illicit drug in Australia. Cannabis has lots of negative effects that are very harmful to your health and overall wellbeing.

Marijuana — made from the plant's dried leaves and flowers — is the most commonly used form of cannabis. Cannabis is also known as dope, pot, grass, weed, joint, hash, gunja, stick, chronic, cone, choof, dabs, dabbing and BHO. It may be smoked, mixed with food and eaten, or sometimes brewed as tea. Smoking marijuana may be in a joint (like a cigarette), or through a pipe or bong.

It’s illegal to use, possess, grow or sell cannabis in Australia. The penalties are different in each state and territory. You must not drive under the effects of cannabis.

There are also synthetic forms of cannabis, which are made using chemicals. Synthetic cannabis is marketed under names like Spice, Kronic, Northern Lights, Mojo, Lightning Gold, Blue Lotus and Godfather. Find out more about synthetic cannabis on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website.

Effects of marijuana

Marijuana is a depressant drug that slows down the messages to and from your brain. The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana might make you feel ‘chilled out’, relaxed, happy and chatty, and may lead to hallucinations if a large dose is taken.

Marijuana also has many negative effects. It causes slower reflexes, poor coordination and concentration, nausea, glassy eyes and increased heart rate and appetite.

Regular users can get chest infections, lower sperm count, irregular menstrual cycle and lowered sex drive. They can become dependent.

There is also some evidence that cannabis can produce psychotic symptoms in people with a family history of mental illness. It can also make psychotic symptoms worse and harder to treat if you already have a mental illness like schizophrenia.

Marijuana users can have social and financial problems, and don’t do as well in education.

Problems are more common for people who start using marijuana at early age, and for people who use it regularly.

You can also find out about marijuana’s mental health effects. You can find information on getting help on the Drug Help website or by calling the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: January 2019

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Cannabis/marijuana: what are the effects? -

The effect of cannabis on a person depends on many factors including their size, weight and health and the amount taken.

Read more on myDr website

Cannabis TINO : Tune In Not Out

Our music section is about helping you to think about the positive ways and impact of your music engagement

Read more on Tune In Not Out website

Pros and Cons of Medicinal Cannabis Edibles | C4E

learn about the pros and cons of Medicinal Cannabis or Medical marijuana, as the landscape is changing rapidly in Australia, however, there are currently no approved pharmaceutical grade medicinal cannabis edibles offered in Australia.

Read more on Epilepsy Action Australia website

Cannabis - Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre

Cannabis Cannabis is a drug that comes from the marijuana plant

Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website

Medicinal Cannabis Epilepsy | C4E

Access all about medicinal cannabis cost for Epilepsy, finding medicinal cannabis prescriber, medicinal cannabis products availability in Australia, why doctors are reluctant to prescribe medicinal cannabis and about signing consent form to access medicinal cannabis.

Read more on Epilepsy Action Australia website

Medicinal Cannabis | Epilepsy Action Australia | Epilepsy Action Australia

Epilepsy Action Australia publishes regular email updates MedCann on the progress of all aspects of medicinal cannabis use in epilepsy. Register to receive updates.

Read more on Epilepsy Action Australia website

Medicinal Cannabis - Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Broadly speaking, medicinal cannabis is cannabis prescribed to relieve the symptoms of a medical condition, such as epilepsy.

Read more on Alcohol and Drug Foundation website

Travelling with Medicinal Cannabis | C4E

Are you planning of Travelling with Medicinal Cannabis? Plan ahead and reduce anxiety about carrying medicinal cannabis across borders and ensure you are following the laws of the country you are leaving.

Read more on Epilepsy Action Australia website

Eligibility Self-Assessment | Medical Cannabis | C4E

Before opting Medical Cannabis for Epilepsy, do a self-assessment by filling the Medical Cannabis Factsheet and find out, if you would be considered a candidate for medicinal cannabis.

Read more on Epilepsy Action Australia website

Medicinal cannabis & persistent pain - MSK

Theres a lot of interest in the use of medicinal cannabis, but theres not yet enough evidence to support its use to treat musculoskeletal pain.

Read more on Musculoskeletal Australia website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo