What Is Cannabis Plant: Components, Effects & Legality

Nikhil Goswami

The cannabis plant is one of the world’s most popular and widely used plants. Cannabis has many names like weed, ganja, pot, and marijuana. The term “cannabis” is commonly used to describe a group of three psychoactive plants: Cannabis ruderalis, Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis indica.

One of the world’s most popular drugs is produced by drying and harvesting the flowers of these plants. These plants produce calming and relaxing effects, which is one of the primary reasons why so many consume them.

However, despite cannabis’ natural origins, the substance can still have profound positive and negative effects. This article will cover what cannabis is and its effects on the body.

What Is Cannabis Plant?

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the Cannabaceae family. Cannabis is the common name for a group of plants with psychoactive properties.

This plant is one of the world’s most widely cultivated dioecious plants. Dioecious plants are plants whose seeds grow into male and female plants. The male and female flowers are usually separated as soon as they are identified to prevent fertilization.

The female sinsemilla plant, which does not produce seeds, will focus its energy on producing flowers. Although numerous species of the genus cannabis exist, the most widely recognized are Cannabis ruderalis, Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis indica.

The seed oil, leaves, and other parts of the cannabis plant serve medical, recreational, and even household purposes. On a different note, there are different ways to consume cannabis.

Smoking or vaping is one of the most common ways of consuming the cannabis plant. However, if smoked cannabis isn’t your thing, there are other better ways to consume the cannabis plant.

Thanks to technological advancement, you can now consume cannabis plants in the form of capsules, edibles, and supplements. You can also apply it topically or consume the plant raw.

What Is Medical Cannabis?

In addition to its relaxing and calming effects, the cannabis plant has some therapeutic benefits. Medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, refers to cannabis and cannabinoids that doctors have recommended for specific medical conditions.

Herbal cannabis combines pharmaceutical and nonpharmacological techniques to achieve prespecified treatment objectives. Cannabis contains a variety of compounds that affect the body in various ways.

These compounds usually stimulate a specific brain receptor, resulting in various effects. These effects may include an increase in appetite, better sleep, and reduced inflammation. On the other hand, research shows that cannabis may be effective in treating multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, glaucoma, and migraine.

For example, a product containing cannabis extract (cannabidiol) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018 to treat seizure disorders. This product, known as Epidiolex, is the first and only FDA-approved CBD medication.

On the other hand, note that you can also use medicinal cannabis differently. Your doctor may recommend you consume the plant in the form of capsules, oil tinctures, or edibles.

On a side note, medical marijuana is not used to diagnose or cure diseases but rather to alleviate their symptoms. The use of cannabis will not affect the outcome of a certain medical condition. However, it may alleviate some of your symptoms and improve your mood and quality of life.

What Are the Components of Cannabis?

Compounds that are derived from cannabis are known as cannabinoids. According to studies, over 120 cannabinoids have been extracted from the cannabis plant. Some of the most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant include cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), cannabivarin (CBV), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

However, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the only two cannabinoids that scientists have a good understanding of. CBD and THC are not interchangeable; they serve different purposes and produce different effects.

  • Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD is one of the most popular cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. Although psychoactive, this compound doesn’t produce any intoxicating and euphoric effects. What this means is that CBD can’t make you high.

CBD gummies for sleep works by binding and interacting with the cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system. This compound is known to help with chronic pain, migraine, seizures, and anxiety.

For example, Epidiolex is a CBD medication that helps treat certain kinds of epilepsy. Although CBD has shown promising medicinal purposes, researchers have yet to fully understand why.

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, responsible for the “high” most people associate with marijuana. When you smoke cannabis, this psychoactive component quickly overwhelms your endocannabinoid system and attaches itself to your cannabinoid receptors.

This psychoactive compound blocks natural cannabinoids from the fine-tuning neuronal transmission, throwing the system off balance. The psychoactive effects of THC are extensive because cannabinoid receptors are present in numerous parts of the brain and body.

For example, introducing your body to THC can impair driving, affect judgment, and cause anxiety. Plus, consuming too much THC can affect mental health and cause problems like addiction and memory loss.

On the other hand, you should note that different cannabis plant species have varying concentrations of cannabinoids. For example, the C. Indica plant has a higher CBD ratio than the C. Sativa plant.

So, before buying cannabis products, it’s best to learn about the properties and effects of the different cannabis species.

What Are Some Of Cannabis’s Short-Term Effects?

Consuming herbal cannabis has both positive and negative effects. Let’s have a look at the short-term effects of cannabis use:

  • Red Eyes

Cannabis has been shown to reduce blood pressure, which in turn causes blood vessels to expand, increasing blood flow. This causes the blood vessels in the eyes to expand, causing the eyes to appear red or “bloodshot.”

  • Pain Relieve

Pain relief is one of the most common medical uses of the drug type cannabis. According to studies, cannabis can help moderately reduce nerve pain and muscle spasms and treat certain types of cancer. Scientists theorize that this is because THC suppresses pain by binding to numerous receptors within the nervous system.

  • Appetite Stimulation

One of the most well-known short-term effects of cannabis is appetite stimulation. THC’s attachment to receptors triggers the production of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry.

When consuming THC products, many people experience what they call “the munchies,” a sudden and intense increase in their appetite. While this may be good news for people who need to gain weight, this effect could be a great disadvantage for people trying to lose weight.

  • Euphoria

The psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) raises levels of the feel-good chemical dopamine in the brain. This results in a state of euphoria, which most people refer to as “feeling high.”

  • Anxiety/Paranoia

While THC cartridges can make some people happy, excessive use can have the opposite effect and lead to anxiety or paranoia. That is why the dose is a crucial factor to consider when consuming cannabis products.

We recommend knowing your tolerance level before consuming any product with THC. However, you can start with low doses if you don’t know your tolerance. A little THC can make you happy, but too much can be problematic.

  • Digestive Issues

Inhaling cannabis smoke can cause a burning or stinging sensation in the mouth and throat. On the other hand, you may suffer stomach problems when you consume cannabis orally.

THC reduces nausea and vomiting, but chronic high doses can have the opposite effect on some users. Cannabis can cause nausea and vomiting if consumed in high doses.

Impairs Judgment

Cannabis also affects the prefrontal cortex. The part of the brain that controls decision-making, problem-solving, and our ability to strategize. However, the severity of this effect is determined by several factors.

The most important of which is the drug’s potency and the individual’s history of cannabis use. For example, one study showed chronic cannabis users fared badly on strategic decision-making tasks.

These are some common short-term effects of consuming the cannabis plant. Other short-term desirable effects of cannabis include:

  • Relaxation
  • focus and creativity
  • giddiness
  • Heightened senses
  • Altered perception of time and events

Other short-term problematic effects of cannabis include:

  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Coordination issues
  • Increased heart rate
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Physical discomfort
  • Mood difficulties

However, these effects are usually minimal in cannabis products containing more CBD than THC. On the other hand, the short-term effects of cannabis might be quite different depending on several factors.

These factors include consumption method, dose, strain, THC level, and tolerance level. For example, smoking cannabis produces effects faster than consuming it orally. You’ll feel the effects of cannabis within minutes when you smoke it.

However, if you choose the oral method, it may take hours before the effects kick in.

What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Cannabis?

Consuming cannabis regularly also causes some long-term effects. The negative effects of cannabis over time are typically more severe than the short-term ones.

Long-term cannabis effects include:

  • Brain Development

According to studies, using cannabis during adolescence may have negative effects on brain development. Chronic marijuana usage has been linked to cognitive decline, including cognitive memory and learning impairments.

Studies of chronic cannabis users found that the habit had the following negative effects:

  • Inability to concentrate, focus, and remember things
  • A decrease in both mathematical and verbal abilities

In some people, chronic cannabis usage can worsen existing mental health problems. Therefore, it’s advised that those diagnosed with mental illness or with a family history of it should avoid using cannabis.

However, if you must use cannabis, do so only under the supervision of a professional physician.

  • Depression and Anxiety

Another long-term effect of cannabis use is depression and anxiety. Cannabis usage has been associated with a higher risk of psychiatric disorders like anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.

  • Dependence

Cannabis is one of the most abused drugs in the world. Most chronic users become dependent and even experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the risk of developing a cannabis use disorder increases by a factor of four to seven in those who begin using the drug before the age of 18.

  • Respiratory Problems

Your respiratory system will also suffer from long-term exposure to cannabis smoke. Cannabis smoking is as risky as smoking tobacco. Respiratory issues from cannabis smoking usually occur due to inflammation of the airways.

Research suggests that cannabis use is a risk factor for chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). Experts also believe that smoking cannabis may increase the risk of bronchitis.

  • Central Nervous System

Cannabinoids’ effects are widespread throughout the brain and entire central nervous system (CNS). Studies suggest cannabis can reduce inflammation and pain and prevent spasms and seizures.

However, long-term cannabis use may severely affect the central nervous system. Cannabis usage, both acute and chronic, is linked to various adverse effects on the peripheral and central nervous systems.

This includes poor coordination, hyperemesis syndrome, anxiety, mood problems, and psychotic symptoms. Other long-term health risks of marijuana include:

  • Possibility of testicular cancer
  • Lung damage
  • Lower dopamine release
  • Antisocial behavior

Is Cannabis Legal?

The answer to this question is Yes and No. The legality of what is cannabis sativa depends on your country or region. For example, cannabis is legal in over 19 states in the US. These states include Washington, California, Alaska, New York, and Michigan.

Cannabis is illegal for recreational use in states like Arkansas, Florida, and Oklahoma. Additionally, countries like Canada, Uruguay, Mexico, and Georgia have fully legalized the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.

However, you may face legal issues if you use cannabis in countries like Egypt, Ecuador, Japan, and Algeria. On the other hand, some countries may allow the use of CBD-only products. Others may consider it a serious crime.

Even in states where it is legal for medical purposes, cannabis remains a Schedule I drug. A professional physician can’t prescribe the drug. They can only recommend or certify a patient for its usage.

So, if you are in doubt, it’s best to read up on the local laws governing the use of cannabis in your region before experimenting.


What is cannabis plant? It is simply a plant with photoactive properties. The cannabis plant contains various compounds that mainly bind with the endocannabinoid receptors in the body. If you are also looking for CBD flower, then you can have a look at best cbd flower available.

These compounds (cannabinoids) interact with the body system and trigger various effects. Most effects of cannabis are mild and experienced short-term. However, you may suffer severe and long-term effects following chronic and heavy cannabis usage.

Short-term effects of consuming cannabis include red eyes, anxiety, heightened senses, and euphoria. On the other hand, long-term effects of consuming cannabis include addiction, depression, and respiratory problems.

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