Investigating Cannabis

Investigating Cannabis
What is Cannabis? Cannabis is part of a group of mind-altering product that derive from a busy plant that grows from 1-6 metres tall. There are three species of cannabis plants that produce mind-altering drugs: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruberalis. The sativa species has been grown for many centuries and is used to make a variety of useful products including rope, cloth and paper. Most of these goods are produced from hemp, a strong fibre that comes from the stem of the plant. It is the leaves and flowers of this plant, as well as indica and ruberalis species, which are dried to produce intoxicating effects. Climate condition does it need to grow in? Cannabis usually grows in warm places that have great deal of sunshine. Many of the source countries for cannabis, including Colombia, Thailand and Nigeria- are places where it grows naturally and without any real need for cultivation. Also, because hemp was a valuable item in the 19th Century it was vital in the age of sailing ships, cannabis was widely cultivated across southern usa. Growing conditions there are favourable, and the plant has spread widely as a weed.
Cannabis users in Europe and North America are constantly trying to find new varieties that can grow in greenhouses or which have more potency. Some of these varieties, such as skunk (so named because of it distinctive foul smell) are several times stronger than ordinary cannabis. How is it taken? The leaves are dried and the flowers of the plant form the bulk of the illegal cannabis market around the world. People smoke this form of cannabis, either rolled in a cigarette is often called a joint or pipes, water pipes and ?bongs? (small water pipes). Cannabis is some times mix with tobacco when they roll a joint. The other main product is hashish, which comes from the resin of the cannabis plant. This resin hardens and dealers sell it in a range of shapes, including sticky balls, chunks or flakes. Hashish is either smoked (again, often mixed with tobacco) or cooked, in cakes and biscuits, and eaten. Although already more than double the strength of ordinary cannabis, hashish can be boiled in solvent such as alcohol to produce ?hash oil?. This hash oil is usually mixed with tobacco or leaf cannabis, but sometimes smoked on its own in a pipe. It is up to 25 times as potent as normal cannabis and creates a quicker and more powerful high. Since the high is strengthened, so too are the side effects of paranoia and unease that many people feel with cannabis. Active Ingredient Cannabis is known as a psychoactive drug, meaning that it affects a person?s thinking. The cannabis plant contains more than 400 different chemicals and several of these are psychoactive. The most important of these is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (thc), which is present in the resin of the plant. Cannabis resin is concentrated in the buds of the plant, but is also present in weaker concentration in the leaves and stems. The amount, or concentrations, of thc in the cannabis determines its strength and the extent of the high. Ordinary cannabis, of the sort that is rolled and smoked, contains between 1 and 8 per cent thc. Hashish, made from the resin itself, can have thc concentrations of up to 14 per cent. Hash oil, which has had much of the non-thc material boiled away or filtered out, can have thc concentration of 50 per cent or more. Different Names for Cannabis Cannabis and the many products made from it are known by various common terms or nicknames. Some of the terms used to describe the dried leaves include: Marijuana Reefer Pot Herb Ganja Grass Old man Blanche Weed Weed Bhang Dagga And simply ?Smoke?. Hashish is often shortened to ?hash? and sometimes referred to as ?tar?. Hash oil is sometimes known as ?oil?. The side effect of Cannabis Cannabis can be smoked with or without tobacco, filtered through water, cooled or inhaled using all manner of drug paraphernalia, or simply eaten. If eaten, it?s hard to calculate when it will take effect ? especially if you?ve wolfed down a Billy Bunter sized Veggie burger beforehand. The physical effects of too much dope can result in bloodshot eyes, a dry mouth and sloth-like reflexes and some people have reported feeling anxious and paranoid after a heavy session. Side effects: For many, smoking dope is as natural and everyday as a brew of hot tea, and they find the drug helps make their life a little less stressful without unduly affecting their judgement or abilities. For others it can have quite the opposite effect, turning ordinary folk into unbearable, spaced out, and lazy hippies. A night of industrial strength spliffing can transform you into a giggling oaf who will burst into laughter at wholly unamusing incidents and find deep intellectual depth in the Spice Girls? lyrics. Your trousers and sofa will become riddled with burn marks from dropped spliffs, and you will have to face the regular dilemma of being hit with the munchies at 3am only to find that you were too out of it to get the shopping in. This can result in regular users turning into lazy gits whose crap diet turns their body into a most unattractive proposition short-term effects OF cannabis The reported effects of cannabis use are a sense of euphoria and relaxation, perceptual distortions, time distortion and the intensification of sensory experiences such as listening to music. Cannabis use in social settings can lead to increased talkativeness and infectious laughter followed by states of introspection and dreaminess. The user typically has a feeling of greater emotional and physical sensitivity that can include greater interpersonal empathy. Short-term memory and attention are also impaired. Cannabis use can increase the heart rate by 20-100% above baseline. This increase is greatest in the first 10 to 20 minutes then decreases rapidly thereafter. The rate of decrease depends on whether smoked or oral cannabis is used, lasting three hours in the former and five hours in the latter (Graham 1986; Hall et al 1994; Joy et al 1999). Blood pressure is increased while the person is sitting and decreased while standing. The change from sitting to standing can cause faintness and dizziness due to the change in blood pressure these cardiovascular (relating to heart and blood vessels) effects are of negligible clinical significance because most cannabis users are young and healthy and develop tolerance to these effects (Hall 1994; 1998; Joy et al 1999). Mood effects Adverse mood effects can occur, particularly in inexperienced users, after large doses of cannabis. Anxiety and paranoia are the most common of these effects and others include panic, depression, delusions, and hallucinations. These effects normally disappear after a few hours after cessation of use and are responsive to reassurance and a supportive environment (Adams and Martin 1996; Joy et al 1999). Toxicity The acute toxicity of cannabis is very low and there is no overdose risk from cannabis. There are no confirmed published cases of human deaths related to cannabis poisoning (Hall 1998). Psychomotor effects and driving Cannabis produces dose-related impairments in a wide range of behavioural and cognitive functions. These include slowing reaction time and information processing, and impairing perceptual and motor performance, tracking behaviour and time perception. These effects can increase with the dose of thc and are larger and more persistent with tasks that require sustained attention (Chait and Pierri 1992). These effects may have implications for accidents if the users drive or operate machinery while intoxicated. long-term effects OF cannabis Respiratory system Cannabis smoke contains many of the same components as tobacco smoke. As much as four times the amount of tar can be deposited on the lungs of cannabis smokers as cigarette smokers if a cigarette of comparable weight is smoked. This difference is probably the result of differences in administration. Cannabis cigarettes usually do not have filters and cannabis smokers usually develop a larger puff volume, inhale more deeply and hold their breath several times longer than tobacco smokers. Carcinogenicity There is no conclusive evidence that cannabis causes cancer in humans including those cancers associated with tobacco use. However, cellular, genetic and human studies suggest that cannabis smoke may be an important risk factor for the development of respiratory cancer. There is not yet any evidence from controlled studies showing a higher rate of respiratory cancers among chronic cannabis smokers. However there is evidence of an additive effect of cannabis and tobacco smoking on abnormalities in lung tissue, similar to those that precede lung cancer in tobacco smokers. These effects are related to the amount of cannabis smoked and it has been argued that cannabis smokers will not smoke as much as tobacco smokers or smoke as long in their lives. Most cannabis users have stopped using cannabis by their mid- to late- twenties. Reproductive system thc has been found to inhibit reproductive function in the few human studies reported although these studies have yielded inconsistent evidence. On the basis of research on animals it has been argued that cannabis would probably decrease fertility for both men and women in the short term. It has been suggested that in this respect the possible effects of cannabis use may be most significant for those males whose fertility is already impaired, for example those with a low sperm count. Immune system There is no conclusive evidence that cannabis impairs immune function to any significant extent. The few studies that have suggested that cannabis has an adverse effect on the immune system have not been replicated. Neurological and mental health issues There is evidence that large doses of thc can produce an acute psychosis marked by confusion, amnesia, delusions, hallucinations, anxiety, and agitation. Such reactions are rare and occur usually after heavy cannabis use, or in some instances, after acute cannabis use by sensitive/vulnerable individuals. These effects abate rapidly after discontinuing cannabis use. There is little evidence that cannabis alone produces a psychosis that persists after the period of intoxication. Dependence Heavy smokers of cannabis develop tolerance to the subjective and cardiovascular effects of cannabis. Some users report a withdrawal syndrome on cessation of use with symptoms that may include restlessness, irritability, mild agitation, insomnia, sleep disturbance, nausea and cramping. Controlled laboratory studies have observed withdrawal symptoms which were short lived and abated after 4 days. However, there are still methodological problems to be addressed in measuring the severity of these withdrawal symptoms. Cognitive effects Studies have shown that cannabis can produce a subtle impairment of attention, memory and the organisation and integration of complex information. The longer the cannabis use the more pronounced the impairment. These impairments are subtle and it remains unclear whether these effects are reversed after an extended period of abstinence or what implications they may have for everyday functioning. In addition, researching this complex area is difficult: for example there has been criticism of the adequacy of matching cannabis uses with control subjects in those studies on cognitive deficits in heavy cannabis users. There is no evidence for the scale of severe or debilitating impairment of memory, cognitive function and attention found with chronic heavy alcohol use. There is no evidence that cannabis causes structural brain damage in humans. Medical opinion The debate over the use of cannabis in medicine is highly controversial and emotive. Supporters of the drug claim it has wide-ranging benefits, but opponents of legalisation say it is a potentially dangerous substance that can actually damage health. ? There is scientific evidence to suggest that cannabis may be useful in treating a wide range of conditions. ? And wide-scale trials testing the safety and efficacy of cannabis extracts are currently underway in the UKand elsewhere. ? For instance, cannabis appears to be able to help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy treatment given to cancer patients. ? The drugs used to treat cancer are among the most powerful, and most toxic, chemicals used in medicine. They produce unpleasant side effects, such as days or weeks of vomiting and nausea after each treatment. ? Cannabis is an anti-emetic, a drug that relieves nausea and allows patients to eat and live normally. ? Extracts also seem to benefit patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, stopping muscle spasms, and reducing tremors. ? In the usa, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the oral use of donation, a cannabis derivative, for people with Aids. ? There is evidence that cannabis may stimulate the appetites of Aids patients with wasting disease. ? It may also help relieve the pain of menstrual cramps and childbirth. ? Campaigners claim the drug is useful in treating depression and other mood disorders. ? Cannabis analogues have been shown to prevent seizures in epileptic patients when given in combination with prescription drugs. ? The drug can also help in the treatment of patients suffering from glaucoma, one of the commonest causes of blindness, by reducing fluid pressure in the eye. ? Claims have also been made for its use in treating asthma, strokes, Parkinson?s disease, Alzheimer?s disease, alcoholism and insomnia. ? However, opponents of the use of cannabis point to the fact that it damages the ability to concentrate. ? There are other side effects of the drug, but they vary considerably and are highly unpredictable, partly because cannabis has more than 400 active ingredients. ? A report by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee recommended the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Doctors are doubtful ? But the British Medical Association (bma) did not give the report 100% support. ? The bma believes only cannabinoids ? part of the cannabis plant - should be used in medicine. ? Cannabinoids are the active ingredients of cannabis. The bma says crude cannabis contains many toxic ingredients as well. ? It is also worried about how cannabis will be prescribed; saying that smoking the drug is harmful to health. ? It wants to see the development of ?targeted medicines? using cannabinoids. ? The government says it will not consider legalising cannabis for medical use until clinical trials had been completed. [image] The Law on Cannabis As of 29th January 2004, cannabis has been reclassified from a Class B to a Class C drug in the UK. Here?s a summary of how the changes may affect you: If you?re 17 or under, you?ll be arrested and taken to a police station for a formal warning (your parent or guardian will be asked to attend). If it?s not your first offence you may earn a drugs conviction in court. If you are over 18, the police will confiscate your drugs and will most likely give you a warning ? but they still have the power to arrest you if you are: (a) a repeat offender (b) smoking in public ? a threat to public order (d) have cannabis near any premises used by children. Supplying and dealing remains a far more serious offence than possession and the maximum penalty for supplying and dealing Class C is still 14 years plus an unlimited fine. Here?s a summary of what reclassification means: Before: class B cannabis Illegal. If you are under 18, you will be arrested and given a formal warning. Up to 5 years in jail for possession Up to 14 years in jail for supplying or dealing After: class C cannabis It?s still illegal If you are under 18, you will be arrested and given a formal warning Up to 2 years in jail for possession Up to 14 years in jail for supplying or dealing Cannabis is still illegal., but the maximum penalty for possession has gone down to two years in jail. If you?re over 18 years old, the police will now most likely confiscate the drug and give you a warning rather than dragging you down the Cop Shop. Conclusion Cannabis is not a harm-free drug. The primary problems with the drug focus mainly on the possibility of respiratory disorders similar to those experienced by tobacco smokers and the risk of exacerbating existing mental health problems. Many of the other possible risks from using cannabis remain unproven or inconclusive. In using this data to help formulate policy that will impact on many individuals, it is helpful to think of the likely health impact on the greatest number, rather than extrapolating from individual case studies or those involving surveys with only small samples. In relation to the millions of individuals who have been exposed to the drug in this country since the late 1960s, cannabis compares favourably (in terms of health implications) with legal drugs widely used such as alcohol and tobacco. I feel that cannabis should be legalised if can help or prevent disease. It will be hard because some people will try to misuse the drug, and it can be more hindrance than help to those who need it for medical purposes.

Investigating Cannabis 8.5 of 10 on the basis of 1043 Review.