What is cannabis?
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Cannabis is known by many names including marijuana, weed, pot, hash—and others. Cannabis is a plant with very recognizable leaves, which can be used to create a substance used as a drug. The plant can be processed in different ways to make a variety of products which can be used recreationally and for medicinal purposes. There are two main strains of plants - Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.
Recreationally, it is commonly recognized as the greenish or brownish material that comes from the dried flowering tops/buds and leaves of the plants. It is consumed a variety of ways, including inhalation through smoke or vapor, rolled in joints, used in vape devices, or in bongs. It can also be ingested through edible products, oils, or capsules.
Cannabis contains over 140 chemicals that affect how our brain functions, known as cannabinoids. These chemicals affect our mental state as well as physical movements. In young people, they can also impact how the brain develops.
The two most abundant cannabinoids found in cannabis are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). TCH changes our brain function and our ability to think, our mood, and our behavior. CBD is found in higher concentrations in medical cannabis. It is mainly used for its therapeutic effects for reducing pain and inflammation, nausea, anxiety, seizures, and spasms. THC is responsible for creating the psychoactive “high” feeling by binding to the CB1 receptors in the brain. CBD binds very weakly, or not at all, to these receptors, and does not produce a high.
Recreational cannabis is different from medical cannabis. Those with official prescriptions from a health care practitioner for medical cannabis can use their prescription appropriately. Recreational cannabis requires no prescription. This information focuses on recreational cannabis only.