Different Forms of Cannabis (Marijuana)

Cannabis (marijuana) is a widely used drug in the United States, especially among young adults.1 There are both natural and synthetic forms of marijuana cannabinoids. This page will discuss the different forms of marijuana, the signs of cannabis use disorder, and how to find treatment for marijuana misuse or marijuana addiction.

Natural Cannabinoids (Plant-Derived)

Natural cannabinoids are compounds found in the Cannabis plant.2 The most widely known cannabinoids are:2

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • Cannabidiol (CBD).

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the cannabinoid primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects marijuana is known for.3 However, there are more than 100 other THC-related cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.3

The various forms of natural cannabis and cannabinoids are explored below.

Cannabis (Weed) Flower

Cannabis flower is a form of cannabis that includes a mix of shredded dry flowers or buds, stems, seeds, and leaves.4 It can appear green, brown, or gray in color and can look like tobacco when finely ground or separated.4

Common names for this form of marijuana include:4

  • Dope.
  • Ganja.
  • Grass.
  • Hash.
  • Herb.
  • Mary Jane.
  • Pot.
  • Weed.

Cannabis flower is typically used in the following ways:1

  • Rolled into a cigarette (a joint) or cigar (a blunt) and smoked.
  • Smoked using a device such as a vaporizer, water pipe (bong), or pipe.

Cannabis Extracts or Concentrates

Cannabis extracts are a concentrated form of cannabis that contain high levels of THC.1 Extracts may be solid or liquid and are typically named after how they look and feel.1

Common names for cannabis extracts include:1

  • Shatter—a hard solid that is amber-colored.
  • Wax or budder—a soft solid that is similar to a lip balm in texture.
  • Hash or honey oil—a liquid that is gooey like honey.

They may be smoked, vaporized, or dabbed.1,5

Recently, dab concentrates have become a popular way to use extracts. Dabbing involves a specialized tool that allows solid extracts to be vaporized on high heat and inhaled. When dabbing, an extremely large amount of concentrated THC enters the body right away.5

Additional research is needed to understand how concentrated forms of cannabis may impact health differently than less potent forms. There is an increased risk of the following adverse effects associated with exposure to higher doses of THC:5

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Physical dependence
  • Addiction


Hashish is a potent form of cannabis with very high levels of THC. Hashish is created from the dried resin of the cannabis plant. It is then compressed into a ball, cake, or sheets.4

Hashish—also referred to as hash—is used by breaking pieces off of the ball, cake, or sheet and then smoking them through a pipe.4

Butane Hash Oil (BHO)

Butane hash oil (BHO) contains a high concentration of THC, making it an extremely potent form of weed. BHO may look like honey or butter.5

This form of cannabis is extracted using butane—a flammable solvent commonly used as lighter fluid. Manufacturing butane hash oil is against federal law due to the dangerous preparation process.5

BHO may be smoked through water or oil pipes, or vaped using electronic cigarettes or vaporizers.5

Cannabis Tinctures

Cannabis tinctures are another concentrated form of cannabis. Tinctures contain cannabis extract in a carrier liquid, typically alcohol or oil, sometimes with a certain amount of water.6 They are usually taken orally by using a spray or a dropper.

Marijuana (Weed) Edibles

Other forms of marijuana include a variety of foods and drinks made with either marijuana or a marijuana extract mixed into them. These are called marijuana edibles.1,3

Examples of edible forms of weed include:1,3

  • Brownies.
  • Gummy or hard candies.
  • Cookies.
  • Tea and other beverages.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are manufactured and distinct from natural, plant-derived forms of marijuana. Although synthetic cannabinoids are made to mimic natural cannabinoids, their effects can be unpredictable, dangerous, and more powerful than natural forms of cannabis.7,8

Synthetic cannabinoids may be used in a variety of ways, such as:7

  • Sprayed on plant material and smoked.
  • Mixed into a liquid and vaped.
  • Added to teas or to food and consumed.

Hundreds of different synthetic cannabinoid chemicals are made and marketed as natural herbal products or incense. Many people mistakenly believe they are safe and legal.7

Some states have enacted laws that ban categories of ingredients.7 However, those that make synthetic cannabinoids often get around the law by creating products with different ingredients or by labeling their product as “not for human consumption.”7

Spice or K2

Spice or K2 are a couple of the well-recognized brand names of synthetic cannabinoids.7 They may be smoked in a joint, a pipe, or an e-cigarette, or used as a tea.8 Although they are manufactured to act on the brain similarly to THC, they tend to contain substances that can result in unexpected adverse effects.8

Using Spice or K2 can put a person at risk of experiencing negative health effects such as:8

  • Extreme anxiety.
  • Confusion.
  • Disordered or delusional thinking.
  • Paranoia.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Violent behavior.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Vomiting.
  • Kidney damage and other forms of overdose toxicity.

Signs of Cannabis Misuse and Addiction

Both natural and synthetic forms of cannabis can lead to the development of cannabis use disorder.3,8 As marijuana has become more potent over time, researchers are working to understand the impact higher THC levels could have on marijuana use and marijuana addiction.3

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition (DSM-5), some signs of cannabis use disorder include:9

  • Taking cannabis in a larger amount or for a longer period than intended.
  • Craving, or having a strong desire or urge to continue using cannabis.
  • Recurrent cannabis use resulting in a failure to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Important social, recreational, or occupational activities are given up or reduced due to cannabis use.
  • Continued cannabis use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of cannabis.

Treatment for Cannabis Addiction

If you believe you or a loved one may be addicted to marijuana, Orange county rehab is available at Laguna Treatment Center. Located in Southern California, our beautiful addiction treatment facility employs evidence-based therapies and customizes treatment programs to each person’s individual needs.

Contact Laguna at to discuss the rehab admissions process and the different levels of rehab available.

Our compassionate admissions navigators can provide information on using insurance to pay for rehab, or walk you through other rehab payment options. To start the insurance verification process, now.

Please don’t suffer in silence. Addiction treatment is available, and we are dedicated to helping you.

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