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Cannabis is a preparation of the Cannabis Sativa plant that is used as a drug and medicine. As a drug, it can used in dried plant, resin, or oil form. The potency of cannabis depends on the concentration of THC, which is higher in resin and hash oil. Cannabis is widely available in New Zealand.
Smoking cannabis can have an immediate effect. It can take an hour or more to feel the effects when eaten. Cannabis can make you feel relaxed, giggly, and hungry, or hallucinate or have a dry mouth. Using more cannabis can result in negative effects including blurred vision, bloodshot eyes, feeling sluggish, difficulty concentrating, slower reflexes, increased heart rate and lower blood pressure, and feelings of paranoia and anxiety.
Withdrawal from regular cannabis use can last a week, and symptoms include anxiety, irritability, craving, aggression and difficulty sleeping.
All drug use brings a risk of harm. The best way to stay safe is to plan. Know your limits and how cannabis affects you.
Eating cannabis in food or drink form is the least harmful way of using it. Make sure you wait at least two hours before eating more so that you do not use more than you intended to.
Smoking anything is harmful for your lungs and heart. Vaporisers are safer because they heat rather than burn cannabis so you can achieve the same effect as smoking, without or the strain from deep inhaling or the harm of inhaling smoke. Vaporisers are also less harmful than smoking bongs or filtered joints.
Mixing any drugs together increases the risk of harm. Using cannabis with alcohol increases the likelihood of experiencing negative effects.
You cannot have a fatal overdose from cannabis use. However, if you have too much in one session it can lead to a very unpleasant experience. Anxiety and panic attacks, disorientation, and inability to focus are all signs you have had too much. Other negative effects from taking too much include loss of coordination, shortness of breath, increased heart rate and shaking, chills and sweats.
Symptoms will usually pass if you don't take anymore and try to keep calm.
You may be experiencing substance use disorder if you are:
Other things to keep an eye out for are changes in concentration, memory, motivation, and mood. Take the PotHelp test to see if your using is a problem.
If you decide to cut back or stop after using cannabis regularly, you may experience psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, sleep difficulty, vivid dreams, and decreased appetite. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about your plan to change, and ask them to look out for and support you. Alternatively, call Alcohol and Drug Helpline 0800 787 797 for confidential, non-judgmental advice and referral to a local service provider.
Synthetic cannabis is illegal in New Zealand. It is designed to imitate the effects of cannabis and is usually dried plant material sprayed with chemicals known as synthetic cannabinoids. It is also available in liquid form. Little is known about the chemicals used in synthetic cannabis and the effects can be unpredictable, especially when mixed with other substances.
Users have reported toxic symptoms, extreme reactions and serious psychological problems from using synthetic cannabis. These include: high blood, pressure, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, chest pain, heart palpitations, severe anxiety and paranoia, fear of dying, hallucinations, tremors and seizures, violent behaviour, and suicidal thoughts. These toxic symptoms have lasting several days and others have experienced long term mental health issues. Tolerance can develop quickly which means you will need more to get the same effect.