cover image

Cannabis,[lower-alpha 1] also known as marijuana[lower-alpha 2] among other names, is a psychoactive drug from the cannabis plant. Native to Central or South Asia, the cannabis plant has been used as a drug for both recreational and entheogenic purposes and in various traditional medicines for centuries. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive component of cannabis, which is one of the 483 known compounds in the plant, including at least 65 other cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis can be used by smoking, vaporizing, within food, or as an extract.

Quick facts: Cannabis, Pronunciation, Source plant(s), Par...
Cannabis
Close-up of flowering cannabis plant
Pronunciation
Source plant(s)Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, Cannabis ruderalis
Part(s) of plantFlower and fruit
Geographic originCentral or South Asia
Active ingredientsTetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabinol, tetrahydrocannabivarin
Main producersAfghanistan, Canada, China, Colombia, India, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Paraguay, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States
Legal status
Close

Cannabis has various mental and physical effects, which include euphoria, altered states of mind and sense of time, difficulty concentrating, impaired short-term memory, impaired body movement (balance and fine psychomotor control), relaxation, and an increase in appetite. Onset of effects is felt within minutes when smoked, but may take up to 90 minutes when eaten. The effects last for two to six hours, depending on the amount used. At high doses, mental effects can include anxiety, delusions (including ideas of reference), hallucinations, panic, paranoia, and psychosis. There is a strong relation between cannabis use and the risk of psychosis, though the direction of causality is debated. Physical effects include increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, nausea, and behavioral problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy; short-term side effects may also include dry mouth and red eyes. Long-term adverse effects may include addiction, decreased mental ability in those who started regular use as adolescents, chronic coughing, susceptibility to respiratory infections, and cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.

Cannabis is mostly used recreationally or as a medicinal drug, although it may also be used for spiritual purposes. In 2013, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis (2.7% to 4.9% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 65). It is the most commonly used largely-illegal drug in the world, with the highest use among adults in Zambia, the United States, Canada, and Nigeria, as of 2018.

While cannabis plants have been grown since at least the 3rd millennium BCE, evidence suggests that it was being smoked for psychoactive effects at least 2,500 years ago in the Pamir Mountains, Asia. Since the 14th century, cannabis has been subject to legal restrictions. The possession, use, and cultivation of cannabis has been illegal in most countries since the 20th century. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country to legalize recreational use of cannabis. Other countries to do so are Canada, Georgia, Malta, Mexico, and South Africa. In the U.S., the recreational use of cannabis is legalized in 21 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia, though the drug remains federally illegal.

Oops something went wrong: