Marijuana (Cannabis) & Cannabinoids
In 2021, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 18.7% of people 12 and older in the United States had used cannabis in the past 12 months.1 This widely used substance is associated with several risks, including marijuana use disorder.2
This page will explain the different forms of marijuana, signs of cannabis misuse, and options available for people who may be experiencing marijuana addiction.
Natural Plant-Derived Cannabinoids
Naturally derived cannabinoids are compounds that come from the Cannabis plant.2 There are over 500 chemicals in the cannabis plant, and over 100 are chemically related to THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the primary intoxicating compound in cannabis.1
There are different forms of marijuana that are plant-derived and contain THC. These include:1
- Marijuana flowers.
- Marijuana extracts or concentrates.
Cannabis flowers do not look like traditional flowers. They are cone-shaped, stringy, almost hairy-looking structures that can appear greyish green in color.1 Cannabis flower is the source of many non-synthetic cannabis derivatives and contains the highest concentration of THC in the plant.1 Marijuana flowers are cultivated from the female plant, which has higher levels of THC.1
Common street names for the cannabis flower include:1
When people use this form of marijuana, the flowers may be:1
- Smoked in the form of hand-rolled cigarettes or cigars (called joints and blunts respectively).
- Smoked through water pipes (bongs), pipes, or vaporizers.
Cannabis Extracts (Concentrates)
Another form of marijuana is cannabis extracts or concentrates. There are several ways people extract concentrated THC from cannabis flowers, leaves, and stems. Products of extraction methods can result in concentrates that appear as:3
- A hard, dark brown or amber-colored solid.
- A honey-like, liquid wax.
- A soft, balm-like solid.
Common street names for plant-based extracts include:2
- Honey oil.
- Hash oil.
Although additional research is necessary, physical dependence and addiction risks increase with exposure to highly concentrated THC. There is also an increased likelihood of adverse effects such as:3
Depending on the nature of the substance, cannabis extracts may be consumed by:2
- Smoking (a practice called dabbing).
Butane Hash Oil (BHO)
Butane hash oil (BHO) is a form of marijuana made by extracting highly potent concentrates from cannabis using flammable chemicals (e.g., lighter fluid) to strip the trichomes from the plant.3 This creates substances that can be a honey-colored oil, a dried waxy balm, or a hard, amber-colored resin.3
BHO may be consumed using a vape pen or in the case of a solid concentrate, it may be vaporized with what is known as a dabbing tool.3
A tincture is another form of marijuana that is a concentrated extract.4 Tinctures involve cannabis infused alcohol or oil, sometimes with water.
These products are ingested by mouth and are typically used on their own.4 However, they may also be added to food or beverages and consumed as edibles.1
Marijuana (Weed) Edibles
Marijuana edibles involve mixing cannabis into food or drinks. Edibles are often made by adding marijuana extracts or concentrates to baked goods like brownies or cookies.1
Marijuana edibles may also come in the form of hard candies or gummies that contain cannabis extracts. Brewing cannabis into beverages such as tea is another example of weed edibles.1
Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made chemicals that mimic the effects of cannabis. They are part of a group of substances called new psychoactive substances (NPS).5
This synthetic form of marijuana usually comes in colorful foil packages of plant matter sprayed with these chemicals, or plastic bottles of liquid to be used with a vaporizer.5 Typically, these substances are labeled “not for human consumption” to deter liability and suspicion.5
Synthetic cannabinoids are illegal in many municipalities, and yet some remain available.6 Synthetic forms of weed are found to be associated with more negative effects such as:6
Spice or K2
Some of the most popular and well-known synthetic cannabinoids are called Spice and K2. They were once legally available in shops, gas stations, and over the internet.5
These substances are now illegal because they have a high potential for misuse and do not possess any medical value. However, manufacturers continue to make new iterations of these substances with different formulas to work around regulations.5
Signs of Cannabis Misuse and Addiction
Cannabis use disorder may be present to some degree in 30% of people who use any form of marijuana.1 Problem cannabis use is classified as addiction when a person continues to compulsively use cannabis even though there are negative consequences associated with its use.1
There have been recent studies linking the effects of marijuana to psychosis and mental illness, especially when used by people under age 18.1 There have also been findings that there is a potential loss of IQ points associated with long-term, heavy cannabis use that began during adolescence.1
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition (DSM-5), some of the common signs of cannabis use disorder are:7
- Cannabis is taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities needed to obtain cannabis, use cannabis, or recover from its effects.
- Recurrent cannabis use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued cannabis use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems being caused or exacerbated by the effects of cannabis.
Treatment for Cannabis Addiction
There is hope for those suffering from a cannabis use disorder. Treatment can help a person with a substance use disorder learn how to cope with the cravings and triggers that can lead to use.
Desert Hope provides both outpatient addiction treatment and inpatient rehab in Las Vegas. Compassionate admissions navigators are standing by to answer any questions you may have about the problematic cannabis use of yourself or your loved ones. Call to speak with one now.
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