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What is Cannabis and How Does it Work? Unravelling the Mystery

What is Cannabis? Sunlit plants showcasing nature's medicinal marvel.
Sunlit plants showcasing nature's medicinal marvel.

If you’ve ever heard of cannabis, you may be wondering what it is and how it works. Cannabis is a plant that has been used for various purposes for thousands of years. But what is cannabis, and what are its properties?

The cannabis plant contains over 100 different chemical compounds called cannabinoids, which interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. The two most well-known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which have different effects on the body. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis, which produces the “high” associated with marijuana use, while CBD is non-psychoactive and is believed to have potential therapeutic benefits.

The cannabis plant can be consumed in many different ways, including smoking, vaping, edibles, and topical applications. It can also be found in various strains, such as sativaindica, and hybrid, which offer different effects and medicinal properties.

Key Takeaways

The Components of Cannabis: THC, CBD, and More

Now that you understand the definition of cannabis and the different types of plants, let’s explore the components that make up this complex plant. Cannabis has over 100 different chemical compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and more.

The two most well-known and studied cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis, responsible for the “high” sensation often associated with marijuana use. It binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, affecting mood, memory, and perception. On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive and has been shown to have potential therapeutic benefits, such as reducing anxiety, inflammation, and pain.

Other cannabinoids found in cannabis include cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabichromene (CBC). These compounds have different effects on the body and may work in synergy with THC and CBD to enhance their therapeutic benefits.

What is cannabis? Researcher extracting oil in modern lab setting.
Researcher extracting oil in modern lab setting.

Along with cannabinoids, cannabis also contains terpenes, which give the plant its distinctive aroma and flavor. Terpenes have also been shown to have their own therapeutic effects, such as reducing inflammation and anxiety.

It’s important to note that the levels and ratios of these components can vary widely depending on the strain and growing conditions, leading to different effects and potential therapeutic uses.

“Cannabis is more than just THC and CBD; it’s a complex plant with many compounds that work together to produce its effects.”

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Cannabis Varieties: Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid

When it comes to cannabis, there are three main varieties you are likely to come across: sativaindica, and hybrid strains. Each variety is distinct in its characteristics, such as plant size, leaf shape, flowering time, and effects on the mind and body.

Sativa strains, such as Durban Poison, are known for their uplifting and energizing effects, making them ideal for daytime use. They typically have a higher THC to CBD ratio and are characterized by tall plants with narrow leaves. Sativa strains are associated with increased creativity, focus, and sociability.

Indica strains, such as 9 Pound Hammer, Cherry Pie, on the other hand, are known for their relaxing and sedative effects, making them great for nighttime use. They typically have a higher CBD to THC ratio and are characterized by short, bushy plants with wider leaves. Indica strains are associated with pain relief, muscle relaxation, and a sense of calm.

Hybrid strains, such as Frosted Apricots, Animal Cookies X Kush Mint, are a combination of sativa and indica varieties, resulting in a unique blend of effects. They can be tailored to meet specific needs, such as pain relief and relaxation while maintaining alertness. Hybrid strains can have varying ratios of THC to CBD, depending on the characteristics of the strains used in the crossbreeding process.

The uses of cannabis varieties are diverse and largely dependent on the user’s individual preferences and needs. Sativa strains are ideal for people who want to stay active during the day, while indica strains are better suited for those who want to unwind and relax in the evening. Hybrid strains can offer the best of both worlds, with effects that can be customized to meet specific needs.

What is cannabis? Visual guide to Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid strains.
Visual guide to Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid strains.

When you consume cannabis, its effects are felt in both the body and mind. The chemical compounds found in cannabis, known as cannabinoids, interact with receptors in the brain and throughout the body, producing a wide range of effects.

The primary psychoactive compound in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for producing the feeling of being “high”. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, altering neural activity and leading to the various effects associated with cannabis use, such as altered perception, increased appetite, and feelings of relaxation.

Another important cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), which does not produce psychoactive effects like THC. CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various physiological and cognitive processes, including mood, sleep, and pain sensation.

When cannabis is consumed, its effects can be felt relatively quickly, typically within minutes to an hour. The effects can last for several hours, depending on the method of consumption and potency of the product.

Research has shown that cannabis can have both short-term and long-term effects on the brain and body. Short-term effects include impaired memory and attention, altered perception, and increased heart rate. Long-term effects can include changes in brain development and function, respiratory problems, and addiction.

When cannabis is consumed, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body, where it can interact with various organs and systems. For example, cannabis can affect blood pressure and heart rate, and long-term use has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Overall, the effects of cannabis on the body and mind are complex and multifaceted, with both potential benefits and risks. It is essential to understand the potential effects of cannabis before consuming it and to use it responsibly to minimize any potential harm.

What is cannabis: Effects of Cannabis on the brain and blood.
Effects of Cannabis on the brain and blood.

If you’re wondering whether cannabis has any medical benefits, the short answer is yes. Over the years, researchers have discovered that cannabis can be used to treat a range of health conditions, including chronic pain, nausea, anxiety and depression, and even epilepsy.

One of the most well-known components of cannabis is THC, which is known for its psychoactive effects. However, cannabis also contains CBD, which has been found to have numerous medical benefits without the high.

Research into the medical benefits of cannabis is still ongoing, but some studies have already shown promising results. For example, a study conducted in 2018 found that cannabis was effective in reducing seizures in patients with Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy.


Potential Benefits of Cannabis

Chronic Pain

Cannabis can provide relief from chronic pain, particularly pain associated with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Anxiety and Depression

Research has shown that cannabis can have a calming effect on the mind and help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.


Cannabis can help to relieve nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and may also have anti-cancer properties.

It’s important to note that the use of cannabis for medical purposes should always be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional. They will be able to advise you on the best dosage and method of consumption for your specific needs.

Despite the potential medical benefits of cannabis, it remains a controversial and heavily regulated substance in many parts of the world. However, as more research is conducted, it’s likely that we’ll see a shift in attitudes towards cannabis and a greater recognition of its medical potential.

What is cannabis? - Science unravels nature's enigmatic green gem.
What is cannabis? - Science unravels nature's enigmatic green gem.

When it comes to the legality of cannabis, it’s important to note that it varies from country to country. In South Africa, for example, cannabis was decriminalized for private use in September 2018. This means that it is no longer considered a criminal offense to use, possess, or cultivate cannabis in private for personal consumption. However, it is still illegal to use cannabis in public or sell it without the necessary license.

While South Africa has taken steps towards legalizing cannabis, other countries still have strict laws in place. In some countries, cannabis is considered a Schedule I drug and is completely illegal, meaning that even possession can result in severe punishment. In contrast, other countries have legalized cannabis entirely, allowing for both medicinal and recreational use.

It’s worth noting that the legal status of cannabis is evolving around the world. As more research is conducted on the potential medical benefits and public opinion shifts, laws are likely to change. It’s important to stay up-to-date on the legal status of cannabis in your country to avoid any legal trouble.

What is cannabis? - Nature's golden embrace of green prosperity.

When it comes to consuming cannabis, there are various methods to choose from, depending on your preferences and needs. The most common method is smoking, which involves burning the leavesflowersstems, or seeds of the cannabis plant and inhaling the resulting smoke.

If smoking is not your preferred method, you can try consuming cannabis through edibles. Edibles are food products that contain cannabis, such as brownies, gummies, and chocolate bars. Unlike smoking, edibles take longer to take effect and can last longer, providing a more prolonged experience.

Aside from smoking and edibles, there are also other consumption methods available, such as vaporizing, dabbing, and tinctures. Vaporizing involves heating the cannabis to a temperature that releases the active ingredients without burning the plant material. Dabbing is a method that involves heating and inhaling a high concentration of cannabis extract, while tinctures involve extracting the cannabinoids from the plant using alcohol or glycerin and consuming it in liquid form.

It’s important to remember that regardless of the consumption method, cannabis can have both short-term and long-term effects on the body and mind. It’s always recommended to consume responsibly and in moderation.

What is cannabis? - A celebration of culture, connection, and freedom

As mentioned earlier, smoking is the most common method of consuming cannabis. The cannabis plant can be rolled into a joint, smoked through a pipe, or smoked using a bong. When smoking cannabis, it’s important to choose the right strain according to your preferences and desired effects. Some strains are known for their relaxing effects, while others are more uplifting and energizing.

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Edibles are a discreet and easy way to consume cannabis. They can be baked into sweet or savory treats such as brownies, cookies, candies, and even drinks like tea. Unlike smoking cannabis, the effects of edibles can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to kick in, so it’s important to start with a low dosage and wait for the effects to take place before consuming more.


Vaporizing involves heating the cannabis at a temperature that releases the active ingredients in a vapor form, which is then inhaled. This method is considered to be less harmful than smoking cannabis since it eliminates the combustion process that produces smoke and potentially toxic byproducts.


Dabbing is a more potent and concentrated form of cannabis consumption that involves inhaling a small amount of cannabis extract that has been heated on a hot surface, then inhaled through a dab rig. This method can provide an intense high and is typically recommended for experienced cannabis users.


Tinctures are a liquid form of cannabis that is consumed orally. They can be added to food or drinks, or taken directly under the tongue. Tinctures are typically made by extracting the cannabinoids from the plant using alcohol or glycerin. They provide a discreet and easy way to consume cannabis, and can be a good option for those who do not want to smoke or consume edibles.


By now, you should have a comprehensive understanding of what cannabis is, and how it works. We have explored the different components found in cannabis, including THC and CBD, and how they interact with the body and mind. We have also looked at the different varieties of cannabis, such as sativa, indica, and hybrid strains, and their respective uses.

Furthermore, we have examined the effects of cannabis on the body and mind, including its potential medical benefits. We also took a closer look at the legal status of cannabis, specifically within the South African context and its evolving legislation. Finally, we explored the various methods of consuming cannabis, including smoking, edibles, and other methods.

The Future of Cannabis

Cannabis continues to be a topic of much debate, with ongoing research into its potential benefits and risks. As more countries legalize cannabis, including South Africa, it is clear that attitudes towards the plant are changing. While there is still much to learn about cannabis, its potential medical benefits and varied uses make it an important subject to explore further.

Thank you for reading, and we hope this article has provided valuable insights into the world of cannabis and its impact.


Cannabis is a plant that contains various chemical compounds called cannabinoids. When consumed, these cannabinoids interact with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, producing various effects on the body and mind.

The main components of cannabis include THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), among others. THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the “high” sensation, while CBD is non-psychoactive and has potential therapeutic benefits.

Cannabis is typically categorized into three main varieties: sativa, indica, and hybrid. Sativa strains are known for their energizing effects, indica strains are associated with relaxation, and hybrids are a combination of both.

Cannabis can have various effects on the body and mind, including relaxation, euphoria, increased appetite, altered sensory perception, and potential therapeutic benefits. However, it can also have side effects such as dry mouth, red eyes, and impaired coordination.

Cannabis has shown potential medical benefits in treating conditions such as chronic pain, nausea, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and even certain types of cancer. However, more research is needed to fully understand its efficacy and safety.

The legality of cannabis varies globally and within different countries. In South Africa, for example, the private use and cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption were decriminalized in 2018, while other countries may have different laws and regulations.

Cannabis can be consumed in various ways, including smoking, vaporizing, consuming edibles (such as cookies or gummies), using tinctures, or applying topically.

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