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A Quick Take on Cannabis and Its Effects

Cannabis refers to a group of three plants with psychoactive properties, known as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

When the flowers of these plants are harvested and dried, you’re left with one of the most common drugs in the world. Some call it weed, some call it pot, and others call it marijuana.

As weed becomes legal in more areas, names for it are evolving. Today, more and more people are using the term cannabis to refer to weed.

Some argue that it’s a more accurate name. Others feel it’s more neutral compared with terms like weed or pot, which some people associate with its illegal use. Also, the term “marijuana” is falling out of favor due to its racist history.

Cannabis is usually consumed for its relaxing and calming effects. In some U.S. states, it’s also prescribed to help with a range of medical conditions, including chronic pain, glaucoma, and poor appetite.

Keep in mind that while cannabis comes from a plant and is considered natural, it can still have strong effects, both positive and negative.

Cannabis is made up of more than 120 components, which are known as cannabinoids. Experts still aren’t sure what each cannabinoid does, but they have a pretty good understanding of two of them, known as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Each has its own effects and uses:

  • CBD. This is a psychoactive cannabinoid, yet it’s non-intoxicating and non-euphoric, meaning it won’t get you “high.” It’s often used to help reduce inflammation and pain. It may also ease nausea, migraine, seizures, and anxiety. (Epidiolex is the first and only prescription medication to contain CBD and be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. This medication is used to treat certain kinds of epilepsy.) Researchers are still trying to fully understand the effectiveness of CBD’s medical use.
  • THC. This is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. THC is responsible for the “high” that most people associate with cannabis.

You can find cannabis products that contain just CBD, THC, or a combination of both. But the dried flower that most people associate with cannabis contains both cannabinoids, though certain strains may have much more of one than the other. Hemp has large quantities of CBD, but no THC.

As weed becomes legal in more areas, names for it are evolving. Today, more and more people are using the term cannabis to refer to weed. Read on to learn what cannabis is, and find a quick overview of its uses, legality, side effects, and more.