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Cannabis Category: Cannabinoids

Also called: hash, hashish, weed, blow, pot, ganja, grass, THC, blunts, bush, herb, puff, resin, smoke, spliff, Afgan, Moroccan, squidgy black, soapbar, skunk, edibles, shatter

Cannabis is the most commonly used controlled drug in Ireland.

It comes from the cannabis plant and can be used in a number of ways. The cannabis plant is complex and contains hundreds of compounds called ‘Cannabinoids’.

The main psychoactive compound which gets people ‘high’ is called THC (delta9 tetrahydrocannabinol).  Another well-known compound is CBD (a non-psychoactive compound which is thought to make people less likely to feel anxious and paranoid).

Plants are grown to contain different concentrations of various cannabinoids and therefore different varieties will have different effects.

In addition to the cannabinoids which are in the Cannabis plant, there are also now laboratory created cannabinoid chemicals which are called synthetic cannabinoids.These are sometimes sprayed onto dried plant material and sold in products to be smoked. They are known my many names such as ‘Spice’. They are often much more potent than cannabis and appear to cause increased side effects.

Appearance

Cannabis comes in many forms, below are commonly known varieties.

Cannabis resin (hash)
Hash or resin is a black or brown lump made from the resin of the cannabis plant. It is made by separating the sticky resin from the buds and leaves and comes in blocks.

Herbal cannabis (grass / weed)
Herbal cannabis is common and is generally made from the dried leaves and flowering parts of the female plant and looks like tightly packed dried herbs in brown/green shades. In Ireland, herbal cannabis is often grown indoors using techniques involving artificial light and nutrient solutions to produce higher levels of the chemical THC. Stronger variations, higher in THC mean increases risk to the user’s mental health.

Skunk 
Skunk is a general term given to stronger forms of cannabis that contain more THC. This term may be less commonly used in Ireland. 

Cannabis oil
Cannabis oils can vary in consistency or thickness and could be amber, gold or dark brown. Oils may be sold in droppers, syringes or capsules.
Oil extracted from cannabis plants can contain varying amounts of THC and CBD.

Concentrates ‘Shatter’
These are highly concentrated forms of cannabis that are extracted using a solvent. This production process is risky to perform and produces glass like ‘shatter’ with the smoking process in a pipe known as ‘dabbing’.

Edible products
Cannabis ‘edibles’ are food products infused with cannabis. Edibles come in many forms—including baked goods, sweets, ’gummy bears’, 'cannabis gummies' chocolates and lozenges. They have many different names that include 'space cakes', 'Gummies', 'THC sweets'. Learn more here.

How cannabis is used

Cannabis is mostly smoked in a ‘joint’, pipe or ‘bong’, or can be vaporised. It can also be made into food or tea.

How it’s consumed will impact on it’s effects. When inhaled, effects occur almost immediately. Eating cannabis products will lead to a delay in the effects, which may not reach their peak for a couple of hours. It is harder to know the amount being taken when eating products which can lead to over consumption. This can cause prolonged negative and frightening effects or cannabis poisoning which is similar to an 'overdose' when you take too much of a substance. 

Short-term effects of cannabis

Drugs can effect each person differently, and the same drug can have different effects on the same person when used on separate occasions. The effects will depend on personal factors such as your physical and mental health as well as the dose and potency of a substance. 

The onset of effects will vary depending on how the cannabis is used and the potency of the product, this could change from time to time.

The short term effects include:

Long-term effects of cannabis

Like any substance, frequent use can lead to issues for some people. Each person will have a different relationship with cannabis.

Other risks 

Dependency

Cannabis dependency is now the most common reason for young people in Ireland (under 25 years old) to need addiction treatment, even more common than alcohol dependence.

As with all other types of substance dependence, cannabis dependence is associated with:

Withdrawal

After prolonged use some people may experience withdrawal if they stop using. Withdrawal symptoms could include:

Tips on reducing cannabis use can be found in the Cannabis and You Resource here:

Risk reduction

Find information on reducing the harms if you choose to use

Get support

Find a service local service here

Contact the HSE Helpline Monday – Friday 9:30 – 5:30 on free phone 1800 459 459 or email helpline@hse.ie

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