Facts on cannabis

Also know as:  bush, dope, draw, ganja, grass, hash, hemp, herb, marijuana, pot, puff, skunk, smoke, spliff, wacky backy, weed.

Properties: There are two well known types of cannabis; hash and herbal cannabis. Hash is made from the resin of the plant and is usually found in small black or brown blocks. Herbal cannabis, most commonly referred to as grass or weed, is a combination of the dried leaves and the flowering parts of the female plant and looks like dried herbs. Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) is the main active ingredient of cannabis and is the chemical that causes its effects. One of the most common ways to consume cannabis in the UK is to mix it with tobacco and smoke it. It can also be smoked in a bong or pipe, used to make tea or as an ingredient in food such as cake.

Effects: Smoking cannabis can feel like the combination of a mild sedative and a mild hallucinogen. Known effects include: feeling relaxed and happy, sickness, becoming talkative and getting the ‘giggles’, hunger pangs commonly known as the ‘munchies’ or a feeling of time slowing down. Negative effects can include sever anxiety, panic, paranoia and psychosis. Potential dependence on cannabis can differ for each user and is affected by a number of factors including period of use, quantities of use and physical disposition towards dependence. People who use cannabis regularly may have difficulty quitting and may experience psychological and physical withdrawals. This can include cravings, irritability, mood changes, weight loss, problems with sleeping and shaking.

Usage: For 2010, as in previous years, cannabis was the most commonly used drug in England as noted in the Statistics for Drug Misuse, 2011. Globally there are estimated to be between 129-190 million cannabis users. Cannabis was reclassified from a Class C to Class B drug in January 2009 by the Home Office.

Availability: Cannabis is grown in most countries around the world, and can be named based on where it is from, for example, Afghan, Colombian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Pakistani and so forth. The World Drug Report also highlighted an increase in indoor cultivation, which is the main source of the production within the UK and has been reported in 29 countries overall.

Testing: Cannabis testing is available in urine and oral fluid via point of care and laboratory testing and in hair via  laboratory testing only.

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