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Cannabis, also known as marijuana among other names,[a] is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant used for medical or recreational purposes.[17][18][19] The main psychoactive part of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol(THC), one of 483 known compounds in the plant,[20] including at least 65 other cannabinoids.[21] Cannabis can be used by smoking, vaporizing, within food, or as an extract.[22]

Cannabis has mental and physical effects, such as creating a “high” or “stoned” feeling, a general change in perception, heightened mood, and an increase in appetite.[22][23] Onset of effects is within minutes when smoked, and about 30 to 60 minutes when cooked and eaten.[22][24] They last for between two and six hours.[24] Short-term side effects may include a decrease in short-term memory, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety.[22][25][26] Long-term side effects may include addiction, decreased mental ability in those who started as teenagers, and behavioral problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy.[22]There is a strong relation between cannabis use and the risk of psychosis,[27] though the cause-and-effect is debated.[28]

Cannabis is mostly used for recreation or as a medicinal drug, although it may also be used for spiritual purposes. In 2013, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis (2.7% to 4.9% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 65).[29] It is the most commonly used illegal drug both in the world and the United States.[22][29] The countries with the highest use among adults as of 2018 are Zambia, the United States, Canada, and Nigeria.[30] In 2016, 51% of people in the United States had used cannabis in their lifetime.[31] About 12% had used it in the past year, and 7.3% had used it in the past month.[32]

The earliest recorded uses date from the 3rd millennium BC.[33] Since the early 20th century, cannabis has been subject to legal restrictions. The possession, use, and sale of cannabis is illegal in most countries of the world.[34][35]Medical cannabis refers to the physician-recommended use of cannabis, which takes place in Canada, Belgium, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and 33 U.S. states.[36][37] In September 2018, cannabis was legalized in South Africa[38] while Canada legalized recreational use of cannabis in October 2018.[39]