Updated: Jun 11, 2020
What’s the definition of cannabis? 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 to terms like weed or pot, which some people still associate with its illegal use.
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.
What are the components of cannabis? 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 them, known as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Each has its own effects and uses:
CBD. This is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning it won’t get you “high.” It’s often used to help reduce inflammation and ease pain. It also helps with nausea, migraines, seizures, and anxiety. Researchers are still trying to fully understand the effectiveness of its medical use.
THC. This is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. THC is responsible for the “high” that most people associate with cannabis.
Is cannabis legal?
Cannabis is illegal in many places, but more and more areas are starting to legalize it for both recreational and medical uses. In the United States, for example, several states have legalized recreational and medical cannabis.
Others have legalized it only for medical use. But cannabis remains illegal under federal law in the United States. The research supporting CBD use for inflammation and pain is promising. The use of CBD to reduce some kinds of seizures is well established.
The laws around cannabis also vary from country to country. Some permit the use of products containing only CBD, while others consider any kind of cannabis use a serious crime.
If you’re curious about trying cannabis, make sure to read up on the laws in your area first.