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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Cannabis addiction or abuse

Waranga tarutaru, te whakamaioro rānei

This page has links to information in te reo Māori.


The information on this page is not about medicinal cannabis – if that is what you are looking for, go to this page.

Cannabis is the name given to a drug found in the plant Cannabis sativa. Cannabis has a chemical in it called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC gives the stoned effect.

There are three common forms of cannabis, depending on what part of the plant is used. These are marijuana, hashish and hash oil.

Cannabis can be smoked as joints, in a pipe, a vaporiser, via a water pipe or bong, using knives on a stove element or eaten in foods. Some people also mix cannabis with tobacco when they smoke it, especially in joints and bongs.

Many users of cannabis use it infrequently. They never develop problems in their lives from its use, and do not have withdrawal symptoms. Some people who use cannabis regularly find that they struggle with poor mood or mood swings. They also have poor motivation, irritability and poor sleep.

People who use cannabis can become physically addicted, especially people who use it every day.

These people may develop unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they have a day without cannabis or try to cut down or quit. Heavy users of cannabis can become paranoid and fearful. This usually settles down when the drug effect wears off.

Driving while stoned is dangerous and illegal. If a police officer pulls you over while driving after taking drugs, you may lose your license or face a criminal conviction.

See your general practice team who are likely to encourage you to try self-help programmes and join community support groups. They may refer you to a support agency that specialises in addiction and other professionals who can help.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2023.


Page reference: 520829

Review key: HIADG-47857