Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug in Australia. Ingesting the drug can result in the onset of several physical and psychological symptoms, thought the severity of these varies depending on factors such as but not limited to; how much is consumed, the frequency of use, how it is administered, its strength, the user’s tolerance level, the user’s mood, and whether it was taken in conjunction with other substances. (1)

What is THC (Cannabis)?

The most common forms of Cannabis used are:
Herbal Cannabis (Marijuana) – This is the dried leaves and flowers or buds of the Cannabis plant.
Cannabis Resin (Hashish) – This is the dried resin from the Cannabis plant.
Cannabis Oil (Hashish Oil) – This is the oil extracted from the resin of the Cannabis plant.
Synthetic Cannabinoids – Lab created substances that function similarly to the herbal variants, though are often much more potent.
Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis and provides users with the feeling of being “high”. The potency of THC varies within the Cannabis plant, with the flowers, or buds containing a higher level of THC than the leaves. (1)

Download the THC (Cannabis) Drug Fact Sheet

Common Street Names

Mull, bud, dope, pot, grass, weed, head, Mary Jane, doobie, ganja, hashish, hash, hooch, bhang, 420, Ashes, Atshitshi, Aunt Mary, Bammy, Baby Bhang, Blanket, Blunt, Bo-Bo, Bobo Bush, Bomber, Boom, Bud, Broccoli, Cheeba, Chronic, Cripple, Dagga, Dinkie Dow, Ding, Dona Juana, Dona Juanita, Flower, Flower Power, Flower Tops, Gasper, Giggle Smoke, Giggle Weed, Good Giggles, Good Butt, Green, Herb, Hot Stick, Jane, Jay, Jolly Green, Jolly Green Giant, Joy Smoke, Joy Stick, MJ, Roach, Reefer, Skunk, Smoke, Trees (2)


According to participants in the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) 2020, Cannabis is “easy” or “very easy” to obtain. Users reported that purity and pricing had remained consistent in comparison to previous periods, as were the varieties available. (3)

In 2018-19 approximately 50% of national drug seizures involved Cannabis. Nearly 8 tonnes were seized in 2018-19 which represents a 20% increase on the amount seized 10 years prior. Similarly, detections at the Australian Border (1.8 tonnes in 2018-19) have also increased significantly. (3)

In 2020, the main approach for arranging the purchase of any illicit or non-prescribed drugs by participants of the Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) in the previous 12 months was via social networking applications (such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Grindr, Tinder) (75%), followed by face-to-face (67%). The primary source was friends (65%), followed by dealers (17.9%) (4)

How Cannabis is used and how to identify it

Products containing THC are generally smoked, eaten, or can be vaporised:

  • Herbal Cannabis looks like dried herbal material and is generally green, brown, or grey in colour. The material is typically dried, then cut, and is often blended with tobacco.
  • Herbal Cannabis can also be baked into foods (the end-product is commonly called an “edible”) or boiled with water to create a tea. (5)
  • Hashish comes in small blocks of resinous material that are a reddish-brown to black colour. Similarly to Herbal Cannabis, the material is either smoked through a pipe, bong, or rolled cigarette, baked into foods, or boiled with water to create a tea.
  • Hashish Oil is a particularly potent extract of the Cannabis plant. Being a concentrate, it can contain up to 90% THC. Hash Oil ranges in colour from a gold/amber hue to dark brown and can either be translucent or opaque. The extract can be smoked, vaped, eaten, or applied topically. (6)

What are the symptoms of somebody who is under the influence?

The following symptoms are known behaviours associated with systematic drug use. Users may exhibit the following behaviours whilst under the influence:

  • Docility, clumsiness, slow reflexes, and conformity
  • Increased sociability, with euphoric feelings and bouts of spontaneous laughter and excitement
  • Blurred vision, enlarged pupils, and bloodshot eyes.
  • Increased appetite and dry mouth
  • Fast heartbeat and breathing
  • Quiet, and reflective mood/thoughts
  • Anxiety and paranoia (7)
  • “Greening” – Nausea, dizziness, pale complexion, and sweating. More severe reactions may include “Blacking Out” and a temporary loss of memory. (1)

What are the symptoms of somebody who is experiencing withdrawal?

Symptoms associated with Cannabis product withdrawal are generally considered as relatively mild, and last between 1 and 2 weeks. The exception to this is sleeplessness, which may endure for much longer:

  • Cravings
  • Reduced appetite and sudden weight loss
  • Restless sleep
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Hot and cold flushes, and night sweats (8)
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea

Business Risks

Whilst under the influence of cannabis or it’s derivatives, many of the symptoms associated with the drugs consumption are likely to cause hazardous behaviours in the user. These actions may not only affect the user personally, but also; the safety of co-workers, a greater risk of damage to plant and equipment, and in the event of an accident, ongoing commercial impacts such as increased insurance premiums, costs associated with injury management, and the potential for costly legal action.

Quick facts about usage

  • Cannabis is the mostly widely used illicit drug in Australia, with a 1.2% increase in usage between 2016 and 2019.
  • Cannabis was the 2nd most common drug type identified during toxicology exams on victims of transport accidents in 2016. (3)
  • Between 2016 and 2019, there was a marked uptick in the use of Cannabis by older Australians. In the age bracket 50-59, usage increased by 2.4% to 9.2%. Of those 60 plus in age, usage increased by 1% to 2.9%. (3)
  • In 2019, there were 206 Cannabinoid related deaths.
  • As reported in the AIHW 2020b Report, 37% of people who used Cannabis did so weekly, making Cannabis more frequently used than drugs like Ecstasy (6.7% of users do so weekly), and Cocaine (4.5% of users do so weekly). (3)

What does THC Overdose look like?

Fatal overdoses of THC are rare, however that does not mean overdosing is harmless. Serious physical or psychological effects can be experienced as a result of consuming too much THC (9):

  • “Greening” – Nausea, dizziness, pale complexion, and sweating. More severe reactions may include “Blacking Out” and a temporary loss of memory. (1)
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid breathing and elevated heart rate
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations and delusions(9)

What to do in the event of an overdose

If someone looks like they are in trouble and there is a suspicion that they may have been using drugs, it’s very important that they get medical help quickly. A quick response can save their life.

  1. Call an ambulance by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers are not required to involve the police unless they feel in danger.
  2. Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives. Find out if anyone at the scene knows CPR in case the person stops breathing.
  3. Ensure the person has enough air by keeping crowds back and opening windows or taking them outside. Loosen tight clothing.
  4. If the person is unconscious or wants to lie down, put them in the recovery position. This involves gently rolling them onto their side and slightly tilting their head back. This stops them choking if they vomit and allows them to breath easily.
  5. Provide ambulance officers with as much information as you can, such as how much of the drug was used, how long ago and any pre-existing medical conditions. If they have taken a drug that came in a packet, give the packet to the ambulance officers.
  6. If you can’t get a response from someone, don’t assume they’re asleep. Not all overdoses happen quickly and sometimes it can take hours for someone to die. Doing something early could save a life.
  7. Update your Incident and/or Injury Register with all required details(10)

Detection Window

A Drug Detection Window is the period of time after a drugs ingestion by a user during which a drug or its metabolites remain present in the user’s system and can be detected through various drug testing protocols.

The “period of time” can vary depending on several factors including but not limited to:

  • Amount and frequency of use
  • Metabolic Rate
  • Body Mass
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Overall Health
  • Drug Tolerance Level
  • Urine Ph Level
  • Type of specimen, testing method, and Cut-off Level(13)
Drug Urine Sweat Oral Blood
Amphetamine 1-3 days 1-4 days 12 hours 2 days
Methamphetamine 1-3 days 1-4 days 1 day 2 days
MDMA 1-3 days 1-4 days 1 day 1 day
THC 1-30 days 1-4 days 12-24 hours 2-3 days
Cocaine 1-3 days 1-4 days 1 day 2 days
Heroin 1-3 days 1-4 days 1 day 2 days

Help with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy

Alcohol and drugs—including medicines prescribed by a doctor or available from a pharmacy—can affect a person’s ability to work safely. Whilst all workers have a personal responsibility to ensure their own health and safety is not compromised in the workplace, or may unduly affect their co-workers, there is also an onus on employers to reduce the risk associated with drug and alcohol impairment where an employee fails in their own duty of care. Among other measures, Employers should develop a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy to set forth the principles under which a safe and drug-free working environment is governed. Following are the state-based organisations who can help employers with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy.

New South Wales – Download PDF

Queensland – Download PDF

Victoria – Download PDF

Australian Capital Territory – Go to website

South Australia – Download Doc

Northern Territory – Go to website</a

Western Australia – Go to website

Tasmania – Download Doc


The information on this website is presented by APAC Diagnostic and is intended as an educational and research tool to aid businesses in creating safe and drug free workplaces.

Whilst all due care has been undertaken to ensure the accuracy and currency of the material contained on this website, the information is made available on the understanding that APAC Diagnostic is not providing professional or medical advice on any particular matter.

APAC Diagnostic does not accept any legal liability or responsibility for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.

About APAC Diagnostic

APAC Diagnostic sponsors the No Drugs at Work campaign and also offers fully customisable drug testing solutions for your workplace. These include, but are not limited to: Onsite testing, alcohol testing, and drug testing. Our devices are designed to be user friendly and non-invasive.

APAC Diagnostic works with a broad spectrum of businesses in both the private and government sectors. Should you require a quotation on larger commercial quantities of our products or a tailored service solution, please contact our team on +61 2 9986 2252 or via email and we will be pleased to help you in working to create a safe and drug free workplace.

Works Cited

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  5. ACIC 2020A. Illicit Drug Data Report 2018-19. Canberra : ACIC, 2019.
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  13. Urine Drug Screening: Practical Gude for Clinicians. Karen E. Moeller, Pharmd, BCPP, Kelly C. Lee. Pharmd, BCPP and Julie C. Kissack. Pharmd, BCPP. 1, s.l. : Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2008, Vol. 83. P66-76.
  14. Better Health Channel. Benzodiazepines. Better Health. [Online] October 2020.
  15. Beyond Blue. Benzodiazepines. Beyond Blue. [Online] Beyond Blue. [Cited: January 21, 2021.]
  16. Nichols, Sam. The Rise, Fall, and Explosive Return of Benzos to Australia. Vice. [Online] Vice, July 28, 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.]
  17. Peacock, A. Australian Drug Trends 2020: Key Findings from the National Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney., 2020.
  18. Bounds, Connor G. and Nelson, Vivian L. Benzodiazepines. NCBI. [Online] STATPEARLS, January 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.]
  19. Amin, Nouran. Increasing Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Lab Roots. [Online] Lab Roots, December 18, 2018. [Cited: January 28, 2021.]
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  22. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death, Australia, 2016. Canberra : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018.
  23. The Department of Health. Prevalence and patterns of psychostimulant use in Australia. The Department of Health. [Online] The Australian Government, April 2004. [Cited: February 22, 2021.]
  24. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are the long-term effects of cocaine use? Massachusetts : National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016.
  25. —. What are some ways that cocaine changes the brain? Massachusetts : National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016.
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