What Is Cannabis? – The Science Behind The Cannabis Plant

cannabis plant

What is cannabis?

There are so many different names when it comes to defining the product that is made from the cannabis plant. Marijuana, cannabis, weed, pot — you have probably heard some of those names.

While names for weed are still evolving, today, most people are using the term cannabis to refer to weed.

Keep on reading to learn more about the cannabis plant, the effects it provides and why cannabis is beneficial. 

What is Cannabis?

To understand what it means, let’s go through a brief biology lesson. Cannabis is a plant that comes from the Cannabaceae family of plants. Cannabaceae is a small family that contains about 170 species of plants grouped in about 11 genera, being cannabis one of them.

Cannabis, in its turn, refers to a group of plants with psychoactive properties, known as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis. These three later define how much THC and CBD the final products will have. For example, ruderalis genetics is known to have lower THC levels, while cannabis indica is known for its higher levels of CBD.

Now, let’s get more scientific to understand the difference between terms.

Hemp vs. Marijuana vs. Cannabis

The definitions of what is classified as marijuana, cannabis or hemp are actually quite straightforward. In fact, both hemp and marijuana are part of the Cannabaceae family and both are specified as cannabis.

The term marijuana is used to define a cannabis plant, that contains more than 0.3 percent THC, and therefore is able to get you high. In contrast, hemp is used for its non-phytoactive properties and comes from cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

What you need to know is that all three definitions are scientific terms that researchers use to explain the differences. And what we know as weed, pot and ganja, are slang terms that were created among cannabis consumers to describe cannabis.

Now that we touched base on THC and CBD, let’s now define what the plant cannabis compounds are.

What are the Compounds of Cannabis?

Cannabis is made out of more than 60 compounds, with major compounds such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol being two of them. These two compounds provide different effects of cannabis, and researchers are still looking at what each cannabinoid does.

Fortunately for us, lots of research has already been done on tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol (CBD) to better understand the effects they provide and how we can use them in medicine and for recreational purposes. 


Tetrahydrocannabinol is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. You mostly know it for the psychoactive experience it provides, also known as high.

THC is broadly used to reduce the pain associated with cancer and intraocular pressure, and prevent nausea and vomiting. It is used to treat anorexia and cachexia with its appetite enhancing effects and reduce symptoms such as paraesthesia, tremor and ataxia. 

THC often shows very good effects on diseases with multiple symptoms, and its spectrum of effects can be used to treat a variety of ailments.


Cannabidiol is another well-studied cannabinoid in cannabis. It does not provide intoxicating and euphoric experiences and, therefore, is broadly used to treat different medical conditions. For instance, CBD helps reduce inflammation and pain. It also holds a massive spectrum of potential uses to treat cancer, fight insomnia and relieve both mild and chronic pains.

CBD may also ease migraine, seizures, eczema and psoriasis. There is also some research suggesting that CBD reduces THC’s unwanted psychoactive effects, such as sedation and euphoria. 

As you can see, the potential benefits of using CBD and THC are massive. However, more research is still required to prove the potential effects of cannabis and whether it is entirely safe to use it or not.

How Cannabis Affects Your Mind and Body

There are short- and long-term effects associated with using cannabis. Researchers are still trying to fully understand the long-term effects of using cannabis, but there is a lot of data available on the short-term effects. Let’s take a look.

Short-Term Effects

Here are some of the more desirable short-term effects that cannabis provides:

  • Pain relief
  • Relaxation
  • Increased appetite
  • Focus and creativity
  • A sense of elation, calm and euphoria

It should be noted that most of these effects are minimal in products high in CBD, compared with tetrahydrocannabinol; however, effects such as pain relief and relaxation are also to be experienced when using CBD.

This is because tetrahydrocannabinol interacts directly with our endocannabinoid system and binds to CB1 receptors in the brain by mimicking anandamide, a naturally occurring endocannabinoid that affects our mood. 

Using Cannabis

The effects may also vary by the method you are using to medicate. Here are some of the most common methods to medicate cannabis:

Smoking or Vaping

Smoking or vaping your cannabis provides almost instant effects by absorbing into the bloodstream through tiny alveoli located in our lungs. These methods are go-to for marijuana users looking for a near-instant high.

Effects usually peak in 30 minutes and last anywhere from 1-3 hours.

Although smoking weed is great for getting high and relaxed, many health-conscious cannabis consumers prefer vaping weed over smoking due to the absence of combustion. 

Vaporizers heat the cannabis flower or concentrate to the right temperature below the point of combustion. By doing so, the vape pen does stop not only the release of harmful tar and carcinogens but also preserves the terpenes, which provide aroma and tasty flavor to your cannabis.


Black Cherry ZZZ Bomb – 1:1 (Twisted Extracts)

Cannabis-infused foods, also known as edibles, are one of the tastiest options available on the market. In short, edibles are food products that have been infused with marijuana. You can find a vast array of products such as gummies, cookies, capsules, candies and even hot chocolate available in the trusted dispensaries.

Edibles are a smoke-free alternative to consuming your dried flower. When using edibles, they go through the digestive tract and liver to absorb into the bloodstream and produce the effects we learned about. Although, it should be noted that the time it takes to feel the effects of edibles is typically longer than the time when you are smoking or inhaling your weed.

The effects typically take 30 to 120 minutes to kick in, however, your patience would be reworded. The effects that edibles provide last upwards of 8 hours!

Cannabis Topicals

Miracle CBD Cream – HempRéal

Topicals allow you to use cannabis and absorb cannabinoids through your skin to provide localized relief.

For example, when using topicals such as CBD creams from HempReal, you won’t experience any psychoactive high. Instead, you can experience relief for cases such as pain or muscle soreness, dryness and cramping. This cream also helps moisturize and rejuvenate the skin. 

Use them with confidence if you have a low weed tolerance or want to rip the benefits from the plant to treat localized pain and inflammation. By absorbing into the skin, topicals will provide hours of relief and will help you focus on important things. 

What Is Cannabis? – The Takeaway

Cannabis is a plant from the Cannabaceae family. Hemp and marijuana, in their turn, describe the plant that contains less or more than 0.3 percent THC, respectively.

Some of the short-term effects that marijuana provides include relaxation, pain relief, increased appetite and a sense of elation, calm and euphoria. To experience these alterations, users use products such as edibles, vaporizers, dries flowers and topicals.

Edibles provide long-lasting experience in addition to symptom relief and relaxation. They are a great alternative to smoking and can be consumed discreetly indoors without others noticing. Smoking or vaping your marijuana provides instant relief and lasts from 1 to 3 hours. 

Lastly, topicals are most popularly chosen for localized pain relief and inflammation. All you need to do is apply them to the painful area and wait for around 30 minutes for the cannabinoids to absorb through your skin.


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