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A-Z of Drugs

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A-Z of drugs

 of Drugs

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Cannabis

Also known as:

Bob Hope, bush, dope, blunts, draw, grass, hash, hemp, herb, marijuana, pot, skunk, puff, smoke, spliff, wacky backy, weed, resin, bhang, black, blast, blow, mary jane, sensemilla, ganga, tack, Northern Lights, sensi, zero and hashish.

Cannabis and the law

Cannabis is a class C drug.   Previous to the reclassification of cannabis on 29 th January 2004 Cannabis was a Class B drug.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis is a natural drug derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant and comes in three main forms: cannabis resin, grass (as leaves, stalks, and seeds), or as sticky oil.   Cannabis is a mild hallucinogen and relaxant.

What does it look like?

Cannabis resin is a dark to light brown substance which is scraped off the surface of the plant and pressed into a solid lump.    Grass is the dried leaves and/or flowering tops of the plant and looks like dried herbs.   Cannabis oil is a treacle like liquid.

How is it used?

It can be rolled with tobacco and smoked in a joint or spliff, smoked on its own, smoked in water pipes known as bongs, brewed into a tea or cooked and eaten in cakes.   

What are the effects?

Cannabis has a mild sedative effect but the experience can vary depending upon the user's mood. It may cause a number of physical effects such as decreased blood pressure, increased pulse rate, blood shot eyes, increased appetite, dry mouth, occasionally dizziness and may make the user more talkative, giggly, and relaxed whereas others may become quiet and withdrawn, sometimes experiencing paranoia and panic attacks.   Users may feel that time appears to slow down and they also become more aware of sounds and colours.

There are different strengths of cannabis and some forms such as skunk are very strong and smokers can have a hallucinogenic reaction.   It is the chemical called tetrahrdrocannabinol (THC) which provides the distinctive cannabis 'high'.

When do the effects start and how long do they last?

If cannabis is smoked it can take effect within a few minutes and the effects can last for several hours.   If cannabis is eaten the effects take longer to start but may last longer

What are the risks?

The risks of accidents are increased as cannabis affects the user's concentration, co-ordination and short term memory.   Smoking too much cannabis or drinking too much alcohol alongside it can make users feel sick and disorientated.   Users may lose their inhibitions meaning they may get into regrettable sexual situations and they are less likely to practice safe sex.

Like cigarettes cannabis smoke contains carcinogenic substances and can lead to nicotine addiction.   It is probable that frequent inhalation of cannabis smoke over a period of years can contribute to bronchitis and other respiratory disorders as well as possible cancers of the lung and part of the digestive system.

There are some claims that cannabis use can lead to long term mental problems or 'cannabis psychosis' and people with mental conditions such as schizophrenia should not use cannabis as this may worsen the situation.   The regular use of cannabis can lead to lower energy levels, poor motivation, poor learning ability, poor performance in exams and forgetfulness.   It is also difficult to avoid unpleasant reactions when eaten as a large dose in one go.

Is it addictive?

There is no physical dependence associated with cannabis use although regular users can become dependent on the drug to get then through the day.  

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Stoke-on-Trent Drug and Alcohol Action Team, First Floor, Civic Centre, Glebe St, Stoke on Trent, ST4 1WR
Tel: 01782 235708 . Fax: 01782 235003 . E-mail: drugactionteam@stoke.gov.uk