weed, dope, hash, grass, ganga, draw, skunk,
marijuana, bud, blow, puff, spliff
Cannabis is the most widely-used illegal drug in Britain.
Cannabis comes from the Hemp plant — it is derived from Cannabis Sativa (a bushy plant found growing wild in most parts of the world). The main active chemical in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Cannabis comes in many different forms:
Hash is resin scraped from the plant and pressed into blocks. Grass or marijuana comprises the flowering heads and the best quality leaves. Cannabis oil is black and extremely sticky, refined most often from resin and usually very strong. Skunk is the term used to describe strong forms of herbal cannabis. This is sold as a dried product.
method of use
Mostly mixed with tobacco and smoked (as a 'joint' or 'spliff'), can be smoked in a pipe or bong, eaten, or brewed as a drink.
The effects of Cannabis last from 20 minutes to several hours and usually makes people feel relaxed and talkative.
Cannabis stimulates the appetite, may enhance the senses and may flatten the emotions. It makes concentration or quick reactions difficult. Cannabis can also cause tiredness, reddening of the eyes, dry mouth, anxiety, raise the pulse rate and lower blood pressure.
At low doses the effects are really quite subtle. Many first time users feel no effect at all and must learn what feelings to look out for. However, some types of Cannabis are very powerful and large doses can induce panic attacks, paranoia and even hallucinations.
The environment Cannabis is used in has a bearing on its effect. If someone is anxious or depressed it could make them feel worse. If Cannabis is mixed with food or drink, it is difficult to gauge amounts, and easy to take more than intended. The effect can be distressing, especially if mixed with alcohol, but rarely dangerous.
Occasional use of Cannabis will show up in urine tests for up to 7 days afterwards and heavy use can be detected for up to 30 days.
The latest research seems to confirm that smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco brings up to 30 times the risk of lung cancer, bronchitis etc. and aggravates any heart condition that may be present.
Cannabis can also induce latent mental health problems and promote psychosis.
It also affects short-term memory and causes reflexes to be slow, making it dangerous to drive or operate heavy machinery.
Cannabis is not physically addictive and there are no reported cases of death by overdose. However, psychological addiction is possible. Stopping suddenly after long-term or heavy use can cause feelings of vulnerability or over-sensitivity, with mood swings, depression, possibly panic attacks, and difficulty in sleeping or concentrating.
Some people can become so dependent that they get into severe financial difficulties as their tolerance grows and the amount they need increases.
Lethargy and demotivation is a significant side effect for many users. Stopping using Cannabis should cause these side effects to quickly disappear.
Cannabis is a class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.