Forms of Marijuana (Cannabis) & Cannabinoids

Marijuana (cannabis) comes in many different forms. Some are made in nature, while others are made in a lab, with certain types posing greater risks of use than others.

This article will discuss the various forms of marijuana (cannabis), the common ways they are used and misused, and how to get help for marijuana addiction.

Natural Plant-Derived Cannabinoids

The different forms of marijuana or cannabis can be broken down into those that are naturally occurring forms derived from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant vs. manmade synthetic forms of the drug that contain a mixture of mind-altering chemical compounds.

Natural plant-derived cannabinoids include:

  • Marijuana.
  • Marijuana extracts or concentrates like hashish, hash oil, and tinctures.


Marijuana is a psychoactive substance that has been used for thousands of years. The term marijuana specifically refers to the leaves, stems, seeds, and flower buds of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant.1

These plants contain naturally occurring forms of the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main active ingredient in marijuana.

The many different street names for marijuana include:

  • Aunt Mary.
  • Blunts.
  • Chronic.
  • Dope.
  • Gangster.
  • Ganja.
  • Grass.
  • Hash.
  • Herb.
  • Joint.
  • Mary Jane.
  • Pot.
  • Reefer.
  • Smoke.
  • Weed.

Marijuana (cannabis) is the most widely available and used illicit drug in the world, with an estimated 4% of the global population and 11% of American adults having used it at least once in their lives. It is also the most commonly used addictive substance after alcohol and tobacco.3,4

People who use marijuana smoke the dried leaves, stems, and buds of the cannabis plant. Traditional marijuana can also be ground into a powdered form of cannabis that can be mixed with food and other edible marijuana products.1

Most U.S. states and territories have legalized the drug’s use for medical and/or recreational purposes, which has led to the drug’s increased popularity and consumption.5,6

Despite this, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level because of its potential for misuse and is currently not recognized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as having legitimate medical uses.2

Marijuana Extracts (Concentrates)

Marijuana extracts or marijuana concentrates are types of cannabis made by extracting THC-rich resin from the marijuana plant. This is done through various processes, some of which can be very dangerous.1

The extracts themselves are potent forms of cannabis that contain much higher concentrations of THC than traditional marijuana. Their use is on the rise and associated with an increase in cannabis-related emergency room visits.7

Different types of marijuana extracts or concentrates include:

  • Hashish.
  • Hash oil or honey oil.
  • Wax or budder.
  • Shatter.
  • Tinctures.

Hashish (Hash)

Hashish or hash is made from the sticky resin (a secreted gum) of the marijuana plant. That resin can be dried and pressed into small chunks or sheets and smoked. Sometimes hash is mixed with tobacco and smoked.2

Hash is typically reddish-brown or black in color. Since hashish does not contain inactive organic ingredients, like leaf cellulose, it is considered a much more powerful, THC-rich version of marijuana.

Hash also produces a distinct smell when it is smoked.

Honey Butane Oil

This form of cannabis contains no actual honey at all, but its appearance is yellowish and gooey, like honey. Hence, its name.

Honey butane oil is made by evaporating butane—a highly flammable solvent—through a screen of marijuana. The sticky residue left behind can be smoked in a pipe or through a vaporizer.

This form of marijuana can contain as much as 40%–80% THC. By comparison, high-grade or top-shelf marijuana is about 20% percent THC.8

Due to its potency and the risks of making it (fires, explosions, etc.), butane oil is one of the most dangerous substances available today.1

Similar marijuana extracts with different appearances and textures that also fall into this category include:1

  • Wax or butter (a soft and solid substance with a consistency like lip balm)
  • Shatter (a solid and hard substance with an amber color)

Like honey oil, these forms of cannabis are also very strong with high concentrations of THC.


Tinctures are liquid forms of cannabis made by infusing or soaking the plant in alcohol, vegetable glycerin, or oil. Like other marijuana extracts, tinctures are considered highly potent forms of cannabis with more THC than traditional marijuana.

Tinctures are increasingly being used for some therapeutic purposes, such as insomnia, stress, and pain. They are typically administered via a medicinal dropper, and can be consumed on their own, mixed with beverages (teas, juices, etc.), or rubbed directly on the skin.

Tinctures are one of the ways people use cannabis without having to inhale or smoke it.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are manmade chemicals, designed to mimic the mind-altering effects of naturally occurring cannabis. These chemicals are sprayed onto dried or shredded plant material, so they can be smoked or vaped through an e-cigarette or other device.9

Synthetic cannabinoids have been manufactured and marketed under different names, including K2 and spice. While these products may be sold to consumers as synthetic marijuana or “fake weed,” there is nothing natural about them, and their use can be dangerous and harmful to a person’s health.9

Synthetic cannabinoids are part of an emerging category of drugs known as new or novel psychoactive substances (NPS). These drugs are unregulated and generally easy to access. They have been able to remain legal by sidestepping certain laws or changing up the chemical formulas.9

While the long-term effects of use remain largely unstudied, at least one study notes that the risks and negative effects of using synthetic cannabinoids are unpredictable, more severe, and longer lasting than when using organic cannabis.3

How Marijuana (Cannabis) Is Used

Cannabis use has evolved over the years, and with all the different kinds of cannabis available, it comes as no surprise that there are many ways to use these forms of cannabis.

Common ways people use cannabis include:1,2,8

  • Smoking: Dried leaves, stems, and buds from cannabis plants are rolled into cigarettes (joints) and emptied cigars (blunts) or pressed into pipes, bongs, etc., and smoked. Cannabis use in its most traditional sense.
  • Using a Vaporizer: A special device that allows people to inhale, but not smoke, the active ingredients in marijuana.
  • Eating: Ground-up, powdered cannabis that’s mixed into candy, baked goods, and other marijuana edibles.
  • Drinking: When cannabis leaves or extracts (tinctures) are brewed into tea or mixed with water, juice, and more.
  • Sublingual: Using a cannabis tincture by applying directly under the tongue via a dropper.
  • Vaping/Dabbing: Smoking the THC-rich resin (marijuana concentrate) extracted from a cannabis plant. A potentially dangerous practice that is on the rise.

Treatment for Marijuana (Cannabis) Addiction

If you or someone you care about is struggling with marijuana abuse or addiction in the Northeast, our inpatient drug rehab in New Jersey can help. We offer comprehensive, evidence-based therapeutic approaches and different levels of addiction treatment tailored to meet each person’s individual needs.

We also specialize in the treatment of co-occurring disorders for those struggling with addiction and other mental health conditions at the same time.

If you’re ready to start the path to recovery, contact us at  to learn more about our programming and treatment options. Our staff is available 24/7 to answer any questions about ways to pay for rehabusing insurance to pay for rehab, or starting the admissions process.

You can also quickly verify your health insurance coverage by filling out this confidential .

You are not alone. Call us at  to get the support you need and deserve today.

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