Forms of Marijuana & How They’re Used

Marijuana comes in many forms and can be used in more than 1 way. Some forms of marijuana are naturally occurring, while others are derived in a lab. There are several risks associated with the use of marijuana.1

In this article, we will discuss both natural and synthetic forms of marijuana, the signs of marijuana addiction, and how to seek treatment for misuse.

Natural Cannabinoids (Plant-Derived)

“Cannabis” is a term that refers to all products that come from the cannabis plant, which includes over 500 substances called cannabinoids.1 The term “marijuana” refers to only the parts of that plant that contain significant amounts of the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.1

Marijuana is the third most commonly used addictive drug in the United States, preceded by tobacco and alcohol.2 There are several types of natural cannabis and cannabinoids as described below.1

Cannabis (Marijuana) Flower

Marijuana is composed of the dried leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis plant.2 It is sometimes also called:3

  • Dope.
  • Bud.
  • Grass.
  • Hash.
  • Herb.
  • Pot.
  • Weed.
  • Other street names.

The marijuana plant contains the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which produces its psychoactive effect.2 It is generally sold as a shredded mix of dried plant and may be green or brown in color.3

Marijuana is commonly used in the following ways:2,3

  • Rolled into a cigarette (also called a joint) and smoked.
  • Rolled in an emptied cigar (called a blunt) and smoked.
  • Smoked using other devices like vapes or pipes like bongs, which use water or other liquids to produce a vapor.

Cannabis Extracts or Concentrates

Another form of cannabis is extracts. Cannabis extracts are cannabinoids extracted from the plant using either solvent or non-solvent methods.4 Solvent methods, such as using butane, extract the THC from cannabis while filtering out other parts of the plant.4

Different forms of cannabis extracts include:2

  • Hash oil or honey oil (a thick liquid).
  • Wax or budder (a softer solid with a similar texture to lip balm).
  • Shatter (a hardened solid that is brown or amber in color).
  • Dabs, which are products made from butane hash oil, a solvent-extracted cannabis product.4

Extracts are highly potent and result in the body being exposed to very large amounts of THC quickly. Although additional research is needed, exposure to THC at such high concentrations can increase the risks of physical dependence and addiction. Other adverse effects that may be more likely with higher doses of THC include:4

  • Agitation.
  • Anxiety.
  • Paranoia.
  • Psychosis.

Cannabis extracts can be used in various ways, including vaping or smoking using a water or oil pipe.4


Hashish and hashish oil are cannabis extracts made from the resin of the cannabis plant, which is rich in THC.3 To make hashish, cannabis resin is collected, then dried and compressed, and can come in forms like balls, cakes, or cookie-shaped sheets.3

To use hashish, pieces of the substance are broken off and placed in pipes or mixed with tobacco to be smoked in pipes or cigarettes.3

Hashish oil is produced by extracting the cannabinoids from the plant using a solvent and produces a highly concentrated form of hashish that can be used by ingesting drops of the substances.3

Butane Hash Oil (BHO)

Butane Hash Oil, abbreviated BHO, is a solvent-extracted cannabinoid that produces a highly concentrated form of weed.4 Butane, commonly known as lighter fluid, is used to extract the THC from the cannabis plant. This process is extremely dangerous due to the risk associated with heating butane, which can result in an explosion.4

BHO can look like a sticky or gooey liquid when finished, and it is amber in color, similar to other cannabis extracts.4 It is commonly referred to as dabs or dabbing and can be used by vaping or smoking.4

Cannabis Tinctures

Tinctures are a liquid, typically alcohol or oil, infused with cannabis. A tincture is a concentrated form of cannabis that is used in very small amounts using a measuring spoon or dropper for dosing by mouth.5

Cannabis tinctures are produced by combining a cannabis extract with either an equal amount of oil or alcohol, sometimes with an amount of water. Tinctures are not the same thing as edibles, in which marijuana concentrates are infused into food products but are used on their own in their liquid form.5

Marijuana (Weed) Edibles

Edibles are foods that have cannabis mixed into them, typically using concentrates or extracts as ingredients.2 Some common edible forms of weed include baked goods like brownies or cookies, candy like gummies, or edibles may be brewed into a drink such as tea.2

Some people may also eat resins, which are a form of marijuana used to produce hashish, on their own, or as ingredients in food, to produce a more intense high.2,5

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are a category of cannabis products made by altering shredded plant material by spraying them with human-made, mind-altering chemicals.6

Synthetic cannabinoids (also called synthetic marijuana or fake weed) are often called by this name because of their similarities to the naturally occurring marijuana plant. In many cases, they are marketed as a legal and safe alternative to marijuana.6

This can mislead buyers, as synthetic cannabinoids are often more powerful than marijuana, and their effects can be unpredictable.6 They may sometimes be called “herbal incense” and sold at convenience stores, gas stations, or on the internet.6

Although many of the chemicals used in synthetic cannabinoids are illegal, manufacturers continue to change formulations in an effort to work around the laws.6

Spice or K2

A couple of well-known trade names for synthetic cannabinoids are K2 or spice, which are meant to mimic the effects of THC.6

Using K2 or spice can be dangerous because of the risk of negative health effects on both the brain and the body, including:6

  • Severe anxiety.
  • Disordered or delusional thoughts.
  • Paranoia.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Confusion.
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate).
  • Violent behavior.
  • Vomiting.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Overdose.

Signs of Cannabis Addiction

It is possible to develop an addiction from using cannabis products.7 Addiction is defined as the compulsive, uncontrollable use of a substance despite significant negative consequences.8

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition (DSM-5), some of the diagnostic criteria used to identify cannabis addiction may include:7

  • Using larger amounts of cannabis or using cannabis over a longer period than was intended.
  • Failure to fulfill major role obligations at home, work, or school due to recurrent cannabis use.
  • Giving up or reducing involvement in important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of recurrent cannabis use.
  • Recurrent cannabis use in situations in which it is physically dangerous.
  • Continued cannabis use despite knowing a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem is likely caused or exacerbated by cannabis.

Using any form of marijuana can be dangerous and pose serious marijuana health risks. It is also possible to experience marijuana withdrawal, defined as experiencing a characteristic withdrawal syndrome or set of symptoms when cannabis use is stopped or drastically reduced.7

Treatment for Cannabis Addiction

If you or a loved one are struggling with cannabis addiction, help is available. Contact our compassionate admissions navigators today to find out more about treatment options available through Recovery First.

Staff at our drug rehab near Miami can help you to streamline the rehab admissions process by verifying your insurance coverage, discussing payment options, and providing information about various levels of care.

Please don’t wait to get the help you deserve. Call now or quickly . Start your recovery journey today.

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