Cannabis, also known as marijuana, has a rich history and diverse effects. Dating back thousands of years, its use can be traced to ancient civilisations. The effects of cannabis are primarily attributed to its main psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
How you might feel
When individuals consume cannabis, they may experience a range of effects.
Effects on your body
When cannabis is consumed, it can have various effects on the body.
How long it takes to work
The onset of effects after consuming cannabis can vary depending on the method of consumption.
How long the effects last
The duration of effects from cannabis can vary depending on several factors.
While cannabis is generally considered to have a relatively low risk profile compared to many other substances, there are still potential risks associated with its use. It’s important to be aware of these risks.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, has a rich history and diverse effects. Dating back thousands of years, its use can be traced to ancient civilisations. The effects of cannabis are primarily attributed to its main psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This summary provides an overview of cannabis, including its background, effects, appearance, taste, smell, and methods of consumption.
Cannabis has a long history that spans various cultures and time periods. It has been used for medicinal, spiritual, and recreational purposes. Cannabis use can be traced back to ancient China, Egypt, and India, where it was utilised for its therapeutic properties and cultural significance.1
The effects of cannabis can vary depending on the strain and individual factors. THC, the primary psychoactive component, interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, resulting in a range of effects. These can include relaxation, euphoria, altered perception of time, increased sociability, and potential therapeutic benefits.2
In terms of appearance, cannabis can take various forms. It is commonly recognised as dried flowers or buds that range in colour from vibrant green to shades of purple. The texture can be sticky due to resinous trichomes containing cannabinoids and terpenes.3
When it comes to taste and smell, cannabis exhibits a diverse range of profiles. Different strains can have distinct flavours, ranging from fruity and citrusy to earthy and spicy. The aroma of cannabis is often described as intense, herbal, skunky, or floral, depending on the strain and terpene composition.4
People consume cannabis through various methods. The most common methods include smoking, vaporising, and oral ingestion. Smoking involves inhaling combusted cannabis flowers while vaporising heats the plant material or extracts to release cannabinoids without combustion. Oral ingestion can be through edibles, oils, capsules, or tinctures, which are metabolised in the digestive system.5
In summary, cannabis has a fascinating history and a wide range of effects. Its appearance can vary in colour and texture, while its taste and smell encompass diverse flavours and aromas. People consume cannabis through smoking, vaporising, or oral ingestion. Understanding the background, effects, and methods of consumption of cannabis is crucial for informed use and discussions surrounding this widely used plant.
How you might feel
When individuals consume cannabis, they may experience a range of effects that can vary depending on factors such as the strain, THC content, method of consumption, and individual tolerance. Here are some common feelings reported by users:
Cannabis can induce feelings of euphoria, happiness, and an overall sense of well-being. Users may experience a heightened mood and a sense of relaxation.
- Relaxation and Stress Relief:
Many individuals use cannabis for its calming and stress-reducing effects. It can promote relaxation, alleviate anxiety, and provide a sense of tranquillity.
- Altered Perception:
Cannabis can alter sensory perception, leading to changes in how users perceive their surroundings. Colours may appear more vibrant, sounds may be enhanced, and sensations may feel more intense.
- Increased Sociability:
Some users report feeling more social and talkative when using cannabis. It can lower inhibitions and enhance interpersonal interactions, making social situations more enjoyable.
- Heightened Creativity:
Cannabis is often associated with increased creativity and free-flowing thoughts. Users may find that their imagination is stimulated, leading to innovative thinking and artistic expression.
- Increased Appetite:
Commonly referred to as the “munchies,” cannabis can stimulate appetite and intensify food cravings. Users may experience an increased enjoyment of food and heightened sensory experiences related to taste and smell.
- Dry Mouth and Bloodshot Eyes:
Cannabis use can cause temporary dryness of the mouth, commonly known as “cottonmouth.” It can also lead to redness and a bloodshot appearance in the eyes.
It’s important to note that the effects of cannabis can vary from person to person, and some individuals may experience different or even adverse reactions. Additionally, the specific strain, dosage, and individual factors can influence the subjective experience of cannabis.
Effects on your body
When cannabis is consumed, it can have various effects on the body. These effects can be both short-term and long-term. Here are some common effects that cannabis can have on the body:
- Relaxation and decreased muscle tension: Cannabis can induce a sense of relaxation and help relieve muscle tension.
- Altered coordination and balance: Cannabis use can impair motor skills, coordination, and balance, making tasks such as driving or operating machinery unsafe.
- Increased heart rate: Cannabis can cause an increase in heart rate, which may be problematic for individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions.
- Bloodshot eyes: Cannabis use can lead to bloodshot and red eyes due to blood vessel dilation.
- Dry mouth: Cannabis can cause dryness in the mouth, commonly called “cottonmouth.”
- Impaired memory and concentration: Cannabis use can temporarily impair short-term memory, attention, and concentration.
- Altered perception of time: Users may experience a distorted sense of time, with time feeling either slowed down or sped up.
- Impaired judgement and decision-making: Cannabis can affect decision-making abilities and impair judgement, leading to potential risky behaviours.
- Respiratory issues: Regular cannabis smoking can lead to respiratory problems such as chronic cough, bronchitis, and increased risk of respiratory infections.
- Cannabis Use Disorder: Some individuals may develop a problematic pattern of cannabis use, leading to cannabis use disorder, which is characterized by difficulty controlling use, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms.
- Potential mental health effects: While the relationship is complex, cannabis use has been associated with an increased risk of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and psychosis, particularly in susceptible individuals.
It’s important to note that the effects of cannabis can vary depending on various factors, such as the method of consumption, dosage, frequency of use, individual tolerance, and the specific strains used. Additionally, the long-term effects of cannabis are still being studied, and more research is needed to understand its potential impacts on the body fully.
How long it takes to work
The onset of effects after consuming cannabis can vary depending on the method of consumption. Here are approximate timeframes for when cannabis typically starts to take effect:
- Inhalation (Smoking or Vaping):
When cannabis is smoked or vaporized, the effects are usually felt within minutes, with peak effects occurring within 10 to 30 minutes.
- Oral Ingestion (Edibles, Oils, Tinctures):
When cannabis is consumed orally, such as through edibles, oils, or tinctures, it takes longer for the effects to kick in. This is because cannabis has to be digested and processed by the liver before it enters the bloodstream. Onset typically occurs within 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion, with peak effects experienced around 2 to 4 hours after consumption.
- Sublingual Administration (Under the Tongue):
Sublingual administration involves placing cannabis extracts or tinctures under the tongue for absorption. The effects generally start to be felt within 15 to 30 minutes, with peak effects occurring within 1 to 2 hours.
It’s important to note that factors such as metabolism, tolerance, and the specific product consumed can influence the onset time. Additionally, different strains of cannabis may have varying onset times and durations of effects. It’s advisable to start with a low dose and wait for the effects to fully manifest before considering additional consumption, as the effects can be delayed and intensify over time.
How long the effects last
The duration of effects from cannabis can vary depending on several factors, including the method of consumption, the potency of the product, and individual differences. Here are some general estimates for the duration of cannabis effects:
Inhalation (Smoking or Vaping):
- Onset of effects: Within minutes
- Peak effects: 30 minutes to 2 hours
- Duration of effects: 2 to 4 hours
Oral Ingestion (Edibles, Oils, Capsules):
- Onset of effects: 30 minutes to 2 hours
- Peak effects: 2 to 4 hours
- Duration of effects: 4 to 8 hours (or longer)
Topical Application (Creams, Lotions):
- Onset of effects: Variable, usually within minutes
- Duration of effects: Several hours to the whole day
It’s important to note that these time frames are general estimates and can vary among individuals. Factors such as metabolism, tolerance, and the specific cannabis product used can influence the duration of effects. Additionally, the presence of other substances or medications in the body can also impact the duration of cannabis effects.
It’s advisable to start with a low dose, wait for the effects to manifest, and assess how long the effects last fully. This will help you gauge your response and adjust your cannabis consumption accordingly. Remember, starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing it if needed is always better than consuming too much and experiencing uncomfortable or prolonged effects.
Dosage ranges of cannabis can vary widely among individuals, and the effects experienced can be influenced by various factors such as tolerance, method of consumption, and product potency. Here are some general guidelines regarding dosage levels and potential effects:
- Minimum to feel something (mg): The minimum dosage required to feel the effects of cannabis can range from 2-5 mg of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).6 However, individual sensitivity to THC can vary, and some individuals may require higher dosages to perceive any noticeable effects.
- Low dose: A low dose of cannabis typically falls within the range of 5-10 mg of THC. At this dosage, individuals may experience mild relaxation, subtle euphoria, and slight alterations in perception.7 It is recommended for individuals new to cannabis or those with low tolerance to start with a low dose.
- Common dose: The common dosage range for cannabis is generally considered to be between 10-30 mg of THC. At this dose, users may experience more pronounced effects, including increased relaxation, heightened sensory perception, altered time perception, and potential changes in mood and cognition.8 It is important to note that individual responses can vary, and some people may experience stronger effects even at lower doses.
- High dose: A high dose of cannabis typically exceeds 30 mg of THC. When consuming high doses, individuals may experience intense euphoria, significant alterations in perception, impaired coordination and motor skills, increased heart rate, dry mouth, anxiety, paranoia, and potential cognitive impairment.9 Exceeding the high dose can increase the likelihood of experiencing adverse effects.
When exceeding the high dose of cannabis, individuals may be at risk of experiencing extreme sedation, confusion, hallucinations, acute anxiety or panic attacks, increased heart rate, and a higher likelihood of developing cannabis-induced psychosis in susceptible individuals.10 It is crucial to exercise caution and use cannabis responsibly, starting with low doses and gradually increasing the dosage if needed while considering individual tolerance and susceptibility to THC’s effects.
Note: The dosage ranges are general estimates and may not apply to everyone. It is recommended to consult with a specialist doctor or refer to product labelling and guidelines for specific dosing recommendations, especially in the context of medical cannabis use.
Cannabis has the potential for addiction, and some individuals may develop problematic patterns of use. It is estimated that approximately 9% of cannabis users may develop a cannabis use disorder.11 Signs of problematic cannabis use may include unsuccessful attempts to quit or cut down, spending a significant amount of time obtaining or using cannabis, neglecting important responsibilities, and experiencing cravings or withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing use. While the addictive potential of cannabis is generally considered lower than substances like nicotine or opioids, it can still hurt some individuals’ lives.
Mixing drugs, including cannabis, with other substances can have unpredictable and potentially dangerous effects on the body and mind. It’s important to exercise caution and be aware of potential interactions when combining drugs. Here are some notable interactions to consider:
Mixing cannabis with alcohol can amplify the effects of both substances. It can result in increased impairment, intensified sedation, dizziness, and impaired coordination. The combination may also increase the risk of accidents and overdose.
- Prescription medications:
Cannabis can interact with certain prescription medications, either by enhancing or inhibiting their effects. It’s important to consult with a specialist doctor or pharmacist to determine if there are any potential interactions between cannabis and your specific medications. This is particularly important for medications that affect the central nervous system, such as sedatives, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants.
- Other recreational drugs:
Combining cannabis with other recreational drugs, such as stimulants, hallucinogens, or opioids, can have unpredictable and potentially dangerous effects on both the body and mind. It can increase the risk of adverse reactions, including heightened anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, cardiovascular problems, and overdose.
- Health conditions:
Individuals with certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders, mental health disorders, or liver problems, may be at increased risk when combining cannabis with other substances. It’s important to consider the potential impact of these conditions and consult with a specialist doctor for personalised advice.
It’s crucial to prioritise your health and safety by avoiding the mixing of drugs unless specifically directed by a healthcare professional. If you have questions or concerns about drug interactions, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist who can provide personalised guidance based on your specific circumstances and medications.
While cannabis is generally considered to have a relatively low-risk profile compared to many other substances, there are still potential risks associated with its use. It’s important to be aware of these risks. Here are some common risks associated with cannabis:
- Impaired cognitive function:
Cannabis use can impair cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making abilities, particularly when used in high doses or over a long period. This can affect academic or work performance and daily functioning.
- Respiratory problems:
Smoking cannabis, similar to tobacco, can lead to respiratory issues such as chronic bronchitis, coughing, and phlegm production. Long-term heavy use of smoked cannabis may also increase the risk of respiratory infections.
- Mental health effects:
While the relationship is complex, cannabis use has been associated with an increased risk of developing or exacerbating mental health conditions, particularly in individuals with a predisposition. It may contribute to the development of anxiety disorders, depression, psychosis, and an increased risk of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals.
- Dependency and addiction:
Although the risk of developing a cannabis addiction is relatively low compared to other substances, some individuals can develop problematic patterns of use. Heavy, frequent, or long-term use of cannabis can lead to dependence, characterized by withdrawal symptoms upon cessation and difficulty controlling or stopping use despite negative consequences.
- Motor impairment and accidents:
Cannabis use can impair coordination, reaction time, and judgement, which increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents and other unintentional injuries, especially when operating machinery or driving under the influence.
It’s important to note that individual responses to cannabis can vary, and not everyone will experience these risks. However, it’s crucial to use cannabis responsibly, be aware of potential risks, and make informed decisions regarding its use. If you have any concerns or questions, it’s recommended to consult with a specialist doctor or substance abuse counsellor.
What people ask
Cannabis is a plant that contains various chemical compounds, including cannabinoids, which can have psychoactive and medicinal effects when consumed.
Cannabis can be consumed in several ways, including smoking the dried flowers or buds, vaporizing the plant material or concentrates, ingesting edibles or beverages infused with cannabis extracts, applying topical creams or patches, or using oral sprays or tinctures.
The effects of cannabis can vary depending on the strain, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, method of consumption, and individual factors. Common effects include euphoria, relaxation, altered perception, increased sociability, heightened sensory experiences, increased appetite, dry mouth, and bloodshot eyes.
The duration of cannabis effects depends on various factors, such as the method of consumption and individual tolerance. Typically, the effects of inhaled cannabis last for 2-4 hours, while the effects of orally ingested cannabis can last 4-8 hours or longer.
While it is rare to experience a fatal overdose from cannabis alone, consuming excessively high doses can lead to uncomfortable or distressing symptoms, such as severe anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, impaired coordination, rapid heart rate, and increased blood pressure.
Yes, cannabis has the potential for addiction, and some individuals may develop a cannabis use disorder. Approximately 9% of cannabis users may develop problematic patterns of use, experiencing difficulties in quitting or cutting down cannabis use and experiencing cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
In the UK, cannabis is classified as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Possession, cultivation, and supply of cannabis are illegal and can result in legal penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
Cannabis can interact with certain medications and substances. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist to understand potential interactions and ensure the safe use of cannabis, particularly when combined with other drugs.