Cannabis is an illegal drug. If you are caught with cannabis you
can be arrested and it could lead to a criminal record. Each
Australian state has different laws and penalties for its use,
possession and sale.
Cannabis comes in a number of different forms:
- Marijuana, grass or weed is the dried leaves and flowers of the
cannabis plant and looks like tightly-packed dried herbs
- Hash is a black-brown solid material made from the resin of the
- Hash or hashish oil, which is rare in Australia, can be spread
on cigarette paper and smoked
How is cannabis taken?
Cannabis is most often mixed with tobacco and smoked as a spliff
or a joint. It can also be smoked through a pipe, put into bongs,
made into tea or mixed into food like cakes and cookies.
What are the immediate effects of cannabis?
Cannabis contains a chemical called THC which moves from the
bloodstream into the brain. THC is a sedative, leading to
relaxation and sleepiness. It is also hallucinogenic, changing the
way that you see reality. Some people feel chilled out, relaxed and
happy when using cannabis. Some become talkative and laugh a lot,
and some experience hunger or food cravings ('the munchies').
Effects that aren't so good can include:
- Nausea (feeling sick, like you want to vomit)
- Faster heart rate
- Changed perception of colours, sound and other sensations
- Poor concentration
- Anxiety and panic
- Suspicion and paranoia
- Poor coordination (affecting driving and other risky
The effects depend on how much you have used, how strong it is,
how you took it, your body size and health, your mood before taking
the drug, and whether you have taken any other drugs (including
How can cannabis affect my physical health?
Using cannabis can have some serious long-term effects on your
- A higher risk of lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses
- Low energy and poor motivation, which can affect your
achievement at study or work
- Poor memory, concentration and ability to learn
- Low sex drive
How can cannabis affect my mental health?
People who use cannabis are more likely to develop mental health
problems, especially psychosis. The risk is higher if you start
using cannabis at a young age, and if other people in your family
have had mental health problems. Cannabis can also make symptoms of
a mental illness worse.
What about withdrawal?
You can become dependent on cannabis. If you are trying to
reduce or stop cannabis after using it for a while, you might have
withdrawal reactions. These can include a craving for the drug,
poor appetite, sleep problems, and sometimes anger, irritability
You might also get addicted to nicotine if you roll your
spliffs/joints with tobacco.
Managing your drug use
If you, your family or your friends think your drug use is
becoming a problem, then get some help and talk to people about it.
Changing your drug use can be hard work, but it will be worth
Some people can reduce or stop drug use on their own, but think
about talking to a trusted family member, friend, doctor or
For more information, and to find out how to get help, visit the
section of this website.
This information was produced in conjunction with ORYGEN