The term cannabis refers to the plant Cannabis sativa L, and its products including dried leaf, bud matter and resin. It is known by different names such as gunja, yarndi, marijuana, pot, or weed [43145]. Cannabis can be smoked or added to foods and baked [27672].

What are the effects of cannabis use?

Over the last two decades the strength of cannabis has increased with a corresponding increased risk to health [43145]. Young people in particular are vulnerable to risks to their mental health.

Short term effects

The short term effects of cannabis are different for everyone but can include [26504]:

  • feeling happy, talkative and less self-conscious
  • decreased nausea
  • feeling hungry
  • lack of coordination
  • feeling suspicious about other people (paranoia).
Long term harms of using cannabis

Long term use of cannabis can affect a person’s physical, social and emotional health.

Harms to mental health include [43145][26504][23508]:

  • increased risk of psychotic episodes
  • increased risk of depression and anxiety
  • problems with memory and paying attention
  • not wanting to do things (lethargy)
  • increased risk of suicide.

Potential harms to physical health include:

  • damage to lungs
  • increased risk of cancer
  • damage to the heart.

Family and community life may be affected by increased fighting over cannabis supply, money problems due to buying cannabis and contact with the criminal justice system [43145] .

Giving up cannabis

If someone wants to give up cannabis, but they have been using it regularly for a while, their body has to get used to working without it [27672]. Withdrawal symptoms may last for less than a week, but sleep may be affected for longer. Symptoms of withdrawal include [26504]:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • aggressive and angry behaviour
  • loss of appetite and upset stomach
  • sweating, chills and tremors
  • sleeping problems and nightmares.


Key resources



Ngapa Jukurrpa (Water Dreaming) - Puyurru by Chantelle Nampijinpa Robertson

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