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Active Chemicals in Marijuana

Marijuana can be harmful to your health even though it’s a plant. It can be harmful no matter how it’s used, whether smoked, eaten, vaped, or dabbed. And, mixing marijuana with alcohol and other drugs can cause even more dangerous health effects.

THC

Marijuana has more than 400 chemicals, including THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the main active chemical in marijuana. It’s what causes a person to feel high.

Marijuana is becoming more and more potent, meaning there’s more THC. For frequent users, exposure to high doses of THC on a regular basis can increase the risk of addiction. For a new user, marijuana with high levels of THC can increase the chance of a bad or unpredictable reaction. These not-so-good effects of marijuana can include psychotic episodes (where you lose touch with reality and think something’s happening that really isn’t), hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t really there), extreme paranoia (fear of people or things around you that aren’t actually able to harm you), panic attacks, and impaired coordination.

CBD

Another active chemical in marijuana is CBD (cannabidiol). More research is needed to truly understand how CBD affects the mind and body and how it works together with THC. The interest in treating certain conditions with marijuana is mostly around CBD, because unlike THC, CBD does not make you feel high.

Source: Trends in Pharmacological Science, 2009.