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HealthInfo Canterbury

Cannabis addiction or abuse

This page has links to information in te reo Māori.


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, smoked via a water pipe or bong, or eaten in foods.

Many users of cannabis use it infrequently. They never develop problems in their lives from its use, and don't 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.

Cannabis is far less likely to produce addiction than other drugs of abuse. Some people can get addicted though, 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 illegal. If a police officer pulls you over while driving after taking drugs, you may lose your license or face a criminal conviction.

As cannabis is less addictive than other drugs of abuse, treatment for people who would like to quit is often successful.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2020.


Page reference: 520829

Review key: HIADG-47857