Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug in the UK. It is a plant that contains hundreds of different compounds called cannabinoids. The main psychoactive cannabinoid is called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant include CBD (cannabidiol), CBG (cannabigerol) and CBN (cannabinol). Plants are grown to contain different cannabinoid concentrations and can therefore produce different effects.

Cannabis plants have been a part of human history for thousands of years. The plant material can be used for rope and fibres in addition to being used for medicinal, psychoactive and religious purposes.

Cannabis should not be confused with "synthetic cannabinoids" also known as "Spice".


THC and CBD are the two most notable cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. THC is known for its mind-altering effects such as euphoria. The effects of CBD are more subtle. CBD counters negative effects from THC by promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.

In the UK, CBD is sold as a food supplement. 'Food supplements' are a wide range of products that include vitamins and minerals.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are chemicals which target cannabinoid receptors in the brain and many brands contain a blend of more than one cannabinoid. Common cannabinoids include 5F-ADB, AMB-FUBINACA and MDMB-CHMICA.