Different Forms of Marijuana (Cannabis) Use
There are many different forms of marijuana, and this article will explore the common forms that people can use, their effects, and talk more about synthetic marijuana and marijuana extracts. In addition, you can find out more about how people use cannabis, as well as where to get help if you or your loved one is struggling with marijuana misuse or addiction.
What Is Cannabis?
Marijuana refers to dried leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of the cannabis plant, specifically the cannabis sativa plant.1 This particular substance typically goes by common street names such as weed, grass, Mary Jane, and ganja.2 The cannabis sativa plant contains tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the mind-altering chemical found in marijuana.1 Marijuana is one of the most widely used substances in the country, with nearly 19 percent of all Americans ages 12 and up having used it in 2021 alone.3
How Marijuana Is Used?
Marijuana can be used in several various ways. Some of these methods of consumption include:1
- Smoking, by rolling up dried marijuana in cigarette papers (joints), cigar wrappers (blunts), or through water pipes (bongs).
- Edibles, which are items like brownies and cookies that contain marijuana and are eaten.
- Drinking tea brewed from marijuana.
- Vaping, where a device is used to vaporize the marijuana that is inhaled and allows the person to get the effects of THC without inhaling smoke.
- Dabbing, where the oil or other concentrate is smoked through a special pipe.
Smoking marijuana produces effects almost right away, but if a person eats an edible or drinks a tea, the effects usually don’t begin until about 30 minutes to an hour after consumed.4,5 The effects of smoking marijuana may last around 1 to 3 hours, while the effects of eating edibles can last several hours.5
Effects of Marijuana
The effects of marijuana can vary from one person to another, and effects usually depend on how marijuana is consumed, in what amount, and how frequently. However, people who use it can experience the overall feeling of being “high”, plus the following effects: 1
- An altered sense of time
- Altered senses, such as seeing colors
- Impaired body movements
- Trouble with thinking and problem-solving
- Changes in mood
In some cases, people may even experience episodes of hallucinations, delusions, or psychosis, but these effects are more likely to occur when high doses of marijuana are consumed.1
Natural Forms of Cannabis
Natural forms of cannabis are directly derived from the plant itself and turned into multiple forms that people can consume. Marijuana, cannabis extracts and concentrates, butane hash oil, and cannabis tinctures all have similar but unique qualities. However, there are potential risks associated with the use of each of these natural forms of cannabis, regardless of how it is taken.
As previously mentioned, marijuana is the product that is derived from the stems, flowers, seeds, and dried leaves of the cannabis sativa plant.1 THC is the primary chemical compound that is found in the cannabis plant.2 THC is largely responsible for producing the mind-altering effects of cannabis, with the average concentration in marijuana being around 15%.6
Cannabis Extracts & Concentrates
Cannabis concentrates are derived from organic cannabis, but these forms of marijuana are derived from the plant in such a way that the percentage of THC is maximized.6 The cannabis plant is covered with microscopic, mushroom-like compounds called trichomes that have a high concentration of THC.6 These trichomes are collected and the concentrates are made through various processes.6
These concentrates can then be turned into waxy substances that resemble the texture of lip balm, a gooey liquid wax, or an amber-colored solid.6 Some street names for these concentrates include shatter, budder, wax, and honey oil.1
Butane Hash Oil
One of the ways that cannabis extracts are processed is with butane.6 When butane is used as a solvent, the end result is butane hash oil.6 Flammable solvents like butane are popular to use in creating concentrates since they are cheap and greatly increase the high people experience from using them.6 These solvent-based concentrates are highly potent, with estimated THC concentrations of 54-69%, and some even testing at 80%.6
Cannabis tinctures are a form of concentrated cannabis, similar to extracts. A tincture contains cannabis extract that is combined with another liquid, such as water, alcohol, or oil. The person using the tincture typically draws up the combined liquid in a dropper or spray prior to oral consumption.7
There are synthetic forms of marijuana that are designed to mimic the effects of organic marijuana.8 Synthetic marijuana is comprised of human-made chemicals that are sprayed on dried plant material for people to smoke.8 It can also be sold as a liquid that can be smoked or vaporized.8 Synthetic marijuana products are sometimes marketed as a safe alternative to organic marijuana, but this is not the case.8
The most common type of synthetic marijuana is K2/Spice. Some popular street names for it include blaze, snax, paradise, and demon.9 The use of synthetic marijuana like K2/Spice can produce different symptoms than that of organic marijuana, therefore it is important to understand that synthetics are not the same as organic cannabis and can be dangerous.3
Synthetic forms of cannabis like K2/Spice can produce the relaxation and altered perception that natural marijuana provides, but synthetics also have the potential to produce psychotic effects, some of which include:8
- Extreme anxiety.
Many of those who have been admitted to emergency departments because of synthetic cannabis use have reported suicidal thoughts, rapid heart rate, vomiting, and violent behavior.8 Additionally, it is possible for people to overdose on K2/Spice, which can produce life-threatening effects such as kidney damage, seizures, and even death.8
Marijuana Addiction Treatment
If you or your loved one needs help with marijuana addiction, there are treatment options.10
Treatment settings for any type of substance use disorder may include an inpatient program option, where you stay under 24/7 supervision while receiving various interventions. Some people can also receive treatment for marijuana addiction via outpatient treatment, where you attend the program for a few hours a day for a couple days per week. Additionally, there are other levels of care offered in most treatment programs, some of which may be a better fit for your specific needs.
Ideally, providers in all levels of addiction treatment programs should work to address any co-occurring disorders in patients with a marijuana addiction, such as anxiety or depression.11 Group counseling (among other evidence-based therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and individual psychotherapy)is an important component of marijuana addiction treatment, as are 12-Step peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).11\
If you are interested in putting a stop to your active addiction, call us today to discuss your options for inpatient addiction treatment in Rhode Island. Whatever form of marijuana you are using, treatment can help. When you call and speak with one of our admissions navigators, they can help answer your questions about the rehab admissions process, as well as rehab payment options. Our admissions navigators can help you find out more about using health insurance for addiction treatment as well.