In German usage, the herbal product of the female hemp plant is referred to as marijuana. More specifically, it is the dried flowers of unpollinated female inflorescences and is also known as weed. 


The terminology of marijuana, sometimes spelled mariguana, is Mexican; the exact origin is uncertain. It may go back to an Indian language.

The widely held theory that it derives from the Spanish given name María Juana (“Mary Jane”) is erroneous folk etymology and probably originated in the United States.

Definition of terms

One uses marijuana, hash, hashish, cannabis, and other similar terms often mistakenly interchangeably. You must differentiate these products must come from one another.

The dried flowers of the female hemp (cannabis) plant are known as marijuana. These flowers have fine glandular hairs that contain resin, which in turn contains THC, cannabidiol, i.e., CBD, and other cannabinoids.

The Latin word for hemp is cannabis. One can roughly divide it into ordinary or natural hemp. It is one of the oldest ornamental and useful plants on earth.

As already mentioned, cannabis is the Latin term for the hemp plant. In connection with intoxicants, colloquial speech often refers to marijuana or hashish, although strictly speaking, these are processed cannabis products. The term cannabis is often used broadly for products containing THC.

Weed, in most cases, means marijuana and “tares” in English. German-speaking countries use this term as well.

Hashish, or hash for short, is also a cannabis product and consists of pressed resin from processed plant parts. It has a higher potency than marijuana. In short, it is the resin of the female cannabis plant.

Female, unpollinated flowers are commonly referred to as “sinsemilla,” which comes from Spanish and loosely translated means “without seeds.” You create it by separating the female and male plants as early as possible.

THC content

The content of the psychoactive active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, which is responsible for the intoxicating effect of marijuana, can vary greatly and depends, among other things, on the cannabis variety. In Germany, for example, this ranges between 2 and 20%. With certain types (and best conditions), even over 25% THC content is possible. Some sources even speak of an active ingredient content of over 30%. The content of cannabidiol, CBD for short (in medical cannabis), is between less than 0.05 and 10.2%.


You can consume marijuana in many ways; absorption via the lungs or stomach is the most common. In most cases, the flowers are smoked after combustion, inhaled via a vaporizer (after evaporation), or ingested orally through food. The time from ingestion to the onset of intoxication varies from a few minutes (when absorbed through the lungs) to a few hours (ingested orally). The duration of action, when inhaled, is about two to three hours; if marijuana is taken orally, the period of the high is significantly longer.

As a rule, the following forms of consumption are common:

  • As a joint: One smokes marijuana pure or mixed with tobacco. it is the most common form of consumption of the psychoactive compound in cannabis: THC
  • Via a vaporizer: Marijuana is also often vaporized and inhaled using a vaporizer
  • Via a pipe or bong: In addition to joints, people use unique smoking accessories such as water pipes or bongs as well
  • As an infusion: You can also dissolve marihuana as tea
  • As food: One consumes marijuana often through food (muffins, cakes, etc.). Food containing THC tends to be more potent than a comparable dose of smoke.


THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for the intoxicating effect. This influences the central nervous system and is also responsible for the muscle-relaxing and nausea-suppressing effect. Whether the dried flowers are used as an intoxicant or medicine is sometimes difficult to distinguish and often unclear.

You can divide marijuana use into two main categories:

  • as an intoxicant
  • as medicine

Marijuana as an intoxicant

One often uses dried flowers of the hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, or their hybrids) to induce an intoxicating effect. In addition, extracts, such as hash oil, for example as intoxicants use.

However, not all hemp varieties are suitable as intoxicants. Industrial hemp and some medicinal hemp varieties contain only minimal amounts of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) necessary for intoxication.

Medical Marijuana

Marijuana, i.e., the dried leaves and inflorescences of the female hemp plant and other cannabis products, are used in traditional medicine in many cultures and conventional medicine as medicines; we are talking about medicinal hemp.

Of the many active ingredients found in the hemp plant (so-called cannabinoids and terpenes), the pharmacologically significant components THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) have been isolated and researched. The spectrum of effects of these two main active ingredients can complement each other from a medical point of view. One knows CBD for its anticonvulsant (“against spasms”), neuroprotective (protects nerve cells and tissues), and anxiolytic effects. THC has antiemetic (“suppression of nausea and vomiting”), appetizing, and muscle relaxant effects and thus complements CBD. The pain-relieving effect is enhanced in combination with both. A total of 104 different cannabinoids have been identified so far, many of which, however, have an unknown mode of action.

For example, one uses cannabis to treat pain caused by nervous system damage or disease, spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, and to relieve pain, nausea, and vomiting associated with cancer and AIDS. Drugs with the two main active ingredients, THC and CBD, have been approved in Austria, Germany, Canada, and other countries. Other treatment areas with THC and CBD are currently still in the clinical testing phase.[1]

According to studies, many other therapeutic effects are attributed to THC as a drug, regardless of its approval. Some of these are as follows:

  • Relief of inflammation-related pain
  • Relief of spasticity
  • Relief of nausea and vomiting
  • Lowering of intraocular pressure
  • Facilitating sleep
  • Appetizing effect
  • Inhibition of the spread of cancer cells[2]

Legal situation

From: December 2022

The consumption, trade, and possession of marijuana and other cannabis products (e.g., hashish) are illegal in most countries. In the United States, the prohibition is by federal law. Meanwhile, in 21 of the 50 states, including Alaska, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., Cannabis is legalized as an intoxicant (for those aged 21 and over). However, the legal implementation looks quite different. So in Washington D.C. For example, while possession and home cultivation of marijuana are legal, public consumption is illegal. In addition, eight states have decriminalized its use. Medical cannabis is legal in 37 of the 50 U.S. states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Federal District of Washington, D.C.

In the Netherlands, at least the possession of up to five grams of cannabis and the sale through coffee shops is tolerated; contrary to the widespread misconception, there is no complete legalization. The first country to fully legalize cannabis was Uruguay (in 2013). Regular cannabis trading started on July 1, 2017.

In Austria, it is a punishable offense to acquire, possess, consume, produce, carry out, and give to another person marijuana. The herb is subject to the provisions of the Narcotics Act.



[1] Sativex® approved in Germany for the treatment of spasticity due to Multiple Sclerosis. GW-Pharmaceuticals.

[2] Roger G. Pertwee: Pharmacological and therapeutic targets for Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. In: Euphytica. Band 140, Nr. 1–2, 2004, S. 73–82, doi:10.1007/s10681-004-4756-9