Slang names include hash, blow, shit, dope, grass, weed, mull, pot, gunga, leaf, smoke, marijuana.
Cannabis is a natural plant and is used in three main forms. The most common type is called resin, which comes as solid dark-coloured lumps or blocks. Less common are the leaves and stalks of the plant, called 'grass' or 'weed', and the third kind, cannabis oil, is rarely seen in Ireland. Cannabis is usually rolled with tobacco into a 'joint' or 'spliff' and smoked, but it can also be cooked and eaten.
Getting 'stoned' on cannabis makes users feel relaxed, talkative and happy. Some people feel time slows down and they also report a greater appreciation of colours, sounds and tastes. Users can develop strong cravings for food, called the 'munchies'.
These different changes are caused by a drug within cannabis which affects the brain. This chemical is called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
THC weakens short-term memory, which is one of the reasons it is so bad to use this drug. If you are using cannabis and trying to study for exams or doing anything that requires you to use your memory, then your brain may not register the things you are trying to learn.
Cannabis can affect memory and concentration, and can leave people feeling tired and lacking motivation. Inexperienced users or people using a stronger type of cannabis than they are used to, can feel anxiety, panic or confusion. Some people may experience delusions or hallucinations.
Many people consider cannabis to be a relatively safe drug. But new research shows that long-term users can find it hard to control their use of the drug and may become addicted. Smoking cannabis increases the risk of heart disease and cancers such as lung cancer, and may also affect fertility. Cannabis use may trigger schizophrenia in vulnerable people. In Ireland it is the second most common drug found in the systems of 'drunk' drivers, after alcohol.