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Marijuana Use

Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids

Is marijuana the same thing as cannabis?

People often use the words “cannabis” and “marijuana” interchangeably, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing.

  • The word “cannabis” refers to all products derived from the plant Cannabis sativa. The cannabis plant contains about 540 chemical substances.

  • The word “marijuana” refers to parts of or products from the plant Cannabis sativa that contain substantial amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the substance that’s primarily responsible for the effects of marijuana on a person’s mental state. Some cannabis plants contain very little THC. Under U.S. law, these plants are considered “industrial hemp” rather than marijuana.  For more information see Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know.

Is Marijuana legal in California?

As of January 1, 2018, cannabis consumers in California may buy medicinal or adult-use cannabis legally from any state-licensed cannabis business. For more information visit the California Cannabis Portal. The SHC does not offer medical marijuana cards. 

How Can It Affect Your Health?

  • Marijuana use can affect your health including addiction, brain health, cancer, chronic pain, heart, lung and mental health, poisoning and risk of using other drugs. See the CDC for more information.
  • Smoke from marijuana contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Smoking marijuana can lead to a greater risk of bronchitis, cough, and phlegm production. 
  • The FDA has warned the public not to use vaping products that contain THC. Products of this type have been implicated in many of the reported cases of serious lung injuries linked to vaping.
  • Edibles, which take longer to digest, take longer to produce an effect. Therefore, people may consume more to feel the effects faster. This may lead to people consuming very high doses and result in negative effects like anxiety, paranoia and, in rare cases, an extreme psychotic reaction (e.g. delusions, hallucinations, talking incoherently, and agitation).
  • Using alcohol and marijuana at the same time is likely to result in greater impairment than when using either one alone. Marijuana may change how prescription drugs work. For more information on health effects see the CDC's Frequently Asked Questions Marijuana.