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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.

Last reviewed: January 2019

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