Cannabis is a drug that comes from a plant known by the same name. It is a psychoactive drug which means that it affects how our brains work causing changes in thoughts, feelings, mood or/and awareness.
A psychoactive drug such as cannabis or alcohol acts mainly on our brains. It changes brain function, resulting in temporary changes in mood, consciousness, behaviour and perception (how we hear, see and become aware of things).
Cannabis has many slang words (‘weed’, ‘blow’, ‘hash’, ‘dope’, ‘grass’).
Cannabis is most commonly available in Ireland in the form of herbal cannabis – dried leaves – called ‘weed’ or in a dark sticky substance called resin (‘hash’/’hashish’). Often these types of cannabis are smoked in cigarettes sometimes called a joint or a spliff. Smoking is the most common way to use cannabis.
Cannabis can also be eaten mixed with food. These are called ‘edibles’. Cannabis is sometimes baked into cakes like brownies. More recently, cannabis products are made in the form of sweets. These can appear in the form of jellies like ‘gummy bears’ or like chocolate. They can come in colourful plastic wrapping that makes them look like sweets bought in a sweet shop. One of the risks of this form is that young children, or even pets, mistake these cannabis products for sweets leading to accidental poisonings.
Cannabis can also be taken in other ways such as inhaling it by vaping or ‘dabbing’. There are also high potency cannabis extracts, such as oil, shatter or wax.
Cannabis contains chemicals that affect the body and the mind. These chemicals are called cannabinoids.