Cannabis (also called marijuana) is a drug that affects the brain by changing perception and mood. It contains psychoactive chemicals called cannabinoids, most notably THC and CBD. Cannabis also has medicinal properties. The FDA has approved drugs that use THC for nausea from cancer chemotherapy and to increase appetite in people with AIDS. Scientists are studying other parts of the cannabis plant for their potential health effects.
Marijuana is most often smoked in a pipe or joint (cigar) but can also be brewed into teas, eaten with food or put into a vaporizer to deliver a smoother and less smelly smoke. It can also be baked into things like cookies and brownies. Sometimes it is mixed into drinks or oils to make edibles. People can also inhale concentrated forms of cannabis using a special pen that delivers high concentrations of THC (called a wax or dab pens).
The short-term effects of cannabis depend on how it is used and the dose. Users report that sativa strains of cannabis produce an energetic high that encourages socializing and creative thinking, while indica strains create a deeper more calming effect. Hybrids, which contain a mix of sativa and indica genes, can produce different effects as well.
When smoked, THC passes from the lungs into the bloodstream and travels to the brain where it binds to specific receptors. This binding can cause feelings of relaxation, altered thinking, drowsiness and hunger. THC can also trigger paranoia, hallucinations and dizziness.