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Cannabis is the most widely used recreational drug and comes in many forms.

What is in cannabis?

CBD and THC – both are found in cannabis

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the ingredient in cannabis that is psychoactive (gives a ‘high’) and mind altering effects. It can also lead to panic attacks, anxiety and paranoia. Skunk and Spice may contain three times as much THC as weed.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Cannabidiol (CBD)  is non psychoactive (doesn’t give a high) and may help with anxiety, depression, and seizures. That’s why it’s in medicinal cannabis, CBD oils and other products (which don’t have THC in them). CBD isn’t addictive but can still have side effects (e.g. feeling sick, tired and/ or bad tempered).

Cannabidiol (CBD)
Types of cannabis

Weed/grass is made from drying out the leaves and flowering parts of the cannabis plant; it can look like dried herbs and is usually brownish-green in colour.

weed/ grass

Skunk is green in colour and can be covered in tiny crystals. It is very strong smelling and contains much more of the harmful THC than weed and so is more addictive.


Spice is made from chemicals sometimes mixed with plant matter. It is packaged in small, often colourful sachets. It has very high levels of  harmful THC and so is linked to higher risk of paranoia and psychosis. Due to its strength, it is more likely to have harmful effects and lead to addiction.


Dab and shatter

A dab drug or dab wax is a powerful, high potency cannabis concentrate. Shatter, gets its name from its brown, hard toffee-like appearance. Shatter and other concentrates can contain 50% to 90% of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component in marijuana that gets users high.

THC concentration in regular marijuana flowers or buds is 5-25%, so it’s easy to imagine just how strong a dab drug is for the user.

dab and shatter
dab rig

Shatter and other concentrates sometimes contain remnants of Butane or other solvents used in the manufacturing process, which are toxic.

Dabbing is the act of inhaling cannabis concentrates using a heating tool such as a dab rig, e-rig, or vaporizer.

The potency of these drugs can make them more addictive and might cause adverse mental health issues, especially for those who are already dealing with a mental illness.

Cannabis edibles are food products that contain THC. They are illegal, but are available in many different forms, including cakes, sweets, chocolates and drinks. They do not have the smell or appearance of cannabis and can also contain other illicit substances.

THC sweets gummies

When smoking cannabis, cannabinoids are inhaled into the lungs and pass rapidly into the bloodstream, peaking in about 10 minutes and wearing off in a couple of hours. By comparison, edibles tend to be easier to consume but take longer to take effect, increasing the risk of consuming too much, due to the delayed effect. Edibles can take hours to digest fully and the effects may peak 2-3 hours after consumption and persist for around 6 hours

THC cakes

THC vapes

THC vapes

Marijuana-containing vape products contain concentrated forms of the plant, or synthetic Spice which means THC levels are many times higher than in the highest-quality weed.

THC vapes allow a larger amount of THC to be inhaled very quickly, compared to smoking cannabis. This can potentially cause overdosing.

The effects of vaping cannabis depends on the amount of THC/ CBD in the vape, which is impossible to tell as they are unregulated. This makes THC vapes especially likely to cause negative side effects or long-term health problems.

Street cannabis contains both THC and CBD 

What are the effects of cannabis?

The effects of cannabis vary from person to person. Someone might feel chilled out, relaxed and happy, get the giggles or become more talkative. Some people might get hunger pangs ​​(“the munchies”) find that colours may look more intense and music may sound better or feel that time is slowing down.

Cannabis does have negative effects too, both short and long term

negative effects of cannabis

Read next Cannabis – common questions and myths