Learn About Cannabis


What is cannabis?

Cannabis is the scientific name for the hemp plant. Its leaves and flowers, often called marijuana, contain a psychoactive (mind-altering) compound that can affect how we feel, think and act. Cannabis comes in various forms, including dried leaves and flowers or 'buds' (marijuana), pressed resin from flowers and leaves (hashish or hash), and concentrated resin extracted with a solvent (hash oil).


While often smoked in a joint or through a pipe or bong (water pipe), cannabis can also be vaporized into a mist. Some people bake or make tea with it, while others turn it into a tincture, a concentrated liquid absorbed by placing a drop under the tongue. Some also use it as a salve or cream.


Why do people use cannabis?

People have been using cannabis for a range of reasons since ancient times. Some people use it while socializing to help them relax and connect with friends. Others people use cannabis for spiritual reasons or to experience an altered form of consciousness. Some people use cannabis to soothe anxiety or manage medical conditions. While some people may experience benefits from their use of cannabis, like any drug, there are risks to using cannabis.



How does cannabis work in the body?

When cannabis is inhaled, chemicals called cannabinoids are absorbed through the lungs and into the bloodstream producing almost immediate effects. When swallowed, cannabinoids are absorbed through the stomach and intestine. This digestive process takes longer, approximately an hour, and varies from person to person. This makes it more difficult to carefully manage the dose when eating or drinking cannabis.


There are more than 60 types of cannabinoids but best known for its psychoactive properties is THC (delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol).


How does cannabis affect a person's mood or spirit?

The effects of cannabis can be very different for each person. Some people feel relaxed, others full of energy, and some people feel quite anxious. Sometimes the same person will have a different experience depending on the occasion. Much depends on the type and amount of cannabis being used and the environment where the cannabis is being consumed.  Cannabis that is not prescribed by a health care provider may not be a good fit for everyone.


Factors that affect people when they use cannabis include:

• Past experiences with cannabis

• Present mood and surroundings

• Our the state of our mental and physical health

• Where we are using cannabis – for example at a friend's house versus at a noisy, crowded concert


Almost half of the people living in BC have tried cannabis:

• 8 percent in the past month

• 13 percent in the past year

• 48 percent in their lifetime