Drug Policy News

What is cannabis?

Cannabis, or marijuana as it is more commonly known in the Western Hemisphere, is a plant-based substance which contains hundreds of known cannabinoids, the principal psychoactive component of which is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The cannabis plant , Cannabis sativa, historically has been used as a fiber and grows in temperate and tropical areas and can be cultivated in controlled indoor environments.

It is one of the most widely consumed drugs throughout the world, and has been used in religious rites, for medicinal and therapeutic purposes, and recreationally.

Herbal cannabis (marijuana) consists of the dried flowering tops. Cannabis resin (hashish) is a compressed solid made from the resinous parts of the plant, and cannabis (hash) oil is a solvent extract of cannabis. Cannabis is almost always smoked, but it can also be consumed in edibles or developed into other extracts and tinctures for therapeutic use.

Cannabis, its derivatives, and THC are under international control. Almost all consumption of cannabis is done illicitly. Some therapeutic benefit as an analgesic has been claimed for cannabis, and dronabinol is a licensed medicine in some countries for some ailments.

On this page you can find links to information and other resources available on the topic of cannabis.


The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) maintains this website as part of its goal to provide OAS Member States with a factual overview of the drug problem in the Americas and a solid evidence base to support the drug debate. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the information presented in this site, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided here and cannot accept responsibility or liability for any consequences arising from the use of the information. This webpage is intended purely as an information service. The Executive Secretariat of the CICAD does not endorse any of the information or conclusions on this informative webpage. Our goal is to keep this information timely and accurate. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them.

updated on 3/28/2018 4:28:54 PM