Drugs


Cannabis

Cannabis is derived from the plant called Cannabis Sativa, which is grown all round the world. The Cannabis plant can also be grown in the UK or USA, people trying to grow this plant in the UK on a commercial basis unfortunately hit problems as it requires specialist equipment and plenty of light and warmth. Cannabis comes in a few different forms those being resin, dried herbs and liquid, in the UK it is mainly resin.

A block of Cannabis is formed from the resin which is extracted from the buds and flowers of the Cannabis plant. Cannabis resin comes from various sources but mainly from Morocco and Lebanon, it is usually hard and brittle from these countries and soft textured from the likes of Pakistan. Resin arrives in this country in different strengths, some being below average potency. Resin has acquired various different names some due to the strength, like Skunk, others due to peoples preferences. Most common names are Blow, Wacky Backy, Ganja, Dope, Hash or Hashish, Grass, Pot and many more.

The other two forms of Cannabis which have been mentioned are dried herbs which are dried leaves and buds of the Cannabis plant. The liquid (oil) which is uncommon is prepared from the resin.

Cannabis can be smoked a number of different ways, it can also be eaten. Firstly smoking Cannabis, this is done by making a joint (hand rolled cigarette), depending on what cigarette papers are used a joint is usually made up of three standard paper, two joined together and one stuck at the back. Tobacco is then placed along the length of the joint, the Cannabis is then added. Cannabis is usually in the form of a block of resin and needs to be warmed so it becomes brittle and can then be broken down into small particles which are spread evenly along the joint, the papers are then rolled to form a cigarette. One end of the cigarette is twisted round to seal the end then a roach would be added to the other end to compact the tobacco and Cannabis inside the joint. A roach is a small piece of rolled up thin card, possibly part of the packaging of the Rizla papers. The joints are this size as usually they are shared between a few people. The person smoking the joint would take a large inhale of the smoke and hold it in the lungs for as long as possible to enable the smoke to travel round the body in the blood stream like oxygen does, eventually reaching the brain giving them the high.

This drug can also be cooked, usually in the form of a cake, biscuits etc. The Cannabis is broken down into small pieces and mixed with the cake mixture and cooked as per the instructions on the cake mixture packet. Once the cake is made and ready for eating it would then be cut into pieces and shared.

If you take it orally, you could be in for quite a ride. The liver metabolises THC into 11-OH-*9-THC, a compound three times more psychoactive. Oral cannabis is a powerful, almost psychedelic experience, very uncomfortable if you're not expecting it. The effects are slower to come on (1 to 2 hours) and last considerably longer (around 4 hours)

Inhaling just the smoke off Cannabis is done in a couple of ways. On the market there is plenty of smoking devices such as pipes with mesh grills. The Cannabis is placed onto the mesh grill, heat is applied the pipe is then sucked so that all the smoke off the Cannabis is inhaled. This method of inhalation tends to burn the throat as the smoke is rather warm when inhaled.

Another way of inhaling this drug is to use a bong, with this method the smoke is drawn through water in a bottle causing the smoke to be cooled down before it is inhaled and obviously more enjoyable for the user. A bong is a bit like an Indian's piece pipe.

For a user to make a bong is fairly simple, the materials required are all found around the home, small plastic bottle, cigarette filter, plastic tube, i.e. a pen with the inside taken out, and a receptacle for burning the Cannabis in, for instance the outsides of a TV aerial plug.


Effects Of Cannabis

Cannabis is a widely used drug and has been for some time in USA & the UK. The effects of Cannabis is determined on the individual, the state of mind the individual was in before taking the drug, i.e. depressed or happy etc. Main effects of a user would be very talkative, relaxed and happy. Colours and sounds also play a big part in the state of users, as these are more pronounced and usually help relax the user. Like other drugs Cannabis can have its bad side of effects, especially when higher dose's are taken. Some side effects include hallucinations and the user may become disorientated. This in turn can also lead to the user being anxious or depressed and possible suicidal. Some users will also become paranoid especially if taking the drug at parties with a lot of other people around. Nausea and vomiting can be present when too much of the drug is taken at once. When smoking Cannabis it usually hits the spot fairly quickly and can last from 1 to 3 hours depending on the amount taken. Just like heroin users, Cannabis users also get the munchies and dry mouth. Cannabis is classed as a drug that is fairly safe to use without any serious long lasting damage to physical or mental health. Cannabis is still dangerous due to the damage to the lungs through smoking, it is also said that it is not a drug that is addictive, to some people it is, also using cannabis with tobacco the user could get addicted to the nicotine in tobacco and get dependent on cigarette's.

Cannabis can leave you feeling a little groggy and forgetful but little else. Depending on how much you've smoked and its character and strength, these effects can linger for hours or days.

Dangers

The toxicity of cannabis is very low. No one as ever died as a direct and immediate consequence of recreational or medical use of cannabis. But it is wrong to say it is an entirely harmless substance.

Smoking

Smoking any drug is unhealthy. Cannabis is no exception. The smoke actually contains higher concentrations of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) than tobacco smoke. Cannabis smokers generally inhale more smoke for longer depositing more than 4 times as much tar on their lungs as cigarette smokers. To balance this, however, they smoke less joints and smoke less often.

Worse is if you combine cannabis and tobacco. If you are a heavy smoker of cannabis and tobacco joints (more than 10 a day) you are signicantly increasing your risk of contracting lung disease. Recent studies show that the greatest pre-cancerous abnormalities appear in those who smoke the two drugs together.

Another important factor is that most cannabis smokers stop when they reach their 30s. Long term surveys of cigarette smokers showed that those who stop before the age of 35 had only a very slightly increased risk of lung cancer. The same may apply to cannabis.

Paranoia

A common side-effect, usually for first time or early users, is anxiety, panic, paranoia and feelings of impending doom. However these effects disappear within hours. Reassurance and a supportive environment help.

There are also anecdotal reports of long-term users 'turning a corner' in their cannabis use, where they can no longer enjoy the experience as cannabis triggers paranoia and anxiety attacks.

In a recent study, between 10%-15% of people who smoked cannabis reported "paranoid" or "confused" feelings as a disadvantage of smoking cannabis.And over 27% reported "anxiety" as a regular or occasional effect. Around 30% gave "negative experiences" as their reason for permanently quitting cannabis.

Schizophrenia

There is a lot of misinformation presented about cannabis and schizophrenia. There is general agreement that heavy cannabis use can precipate schizophrenic episodes in those with the disorder but there is no evidence that it can cause the underlying psychotic disorder. Heavy cannabis users can exhibit long-lasting toxic psychosis involving delusions and hallucinations that can be incorrectly and dangerously - diagnosed as a schizophrenic illness.

If you have mental health problems, taking a drug - any drug - excessively is going to make your problems worse.

Addiction & tolerance

Cannabis is nowhere near as addictive as nicotine or alcohol but it is wrong to say it is not habit-forming.

Many users compare their daily cannabis habit with dependency on caffeine. The UK Department of Health summed it up neatly: "Cannabis is a weakly addictive drug but does induce dependence in a significant minority of regular users."

Around 9% of users become addicted (1), although some studies estimate that over 50% of users have "impaired control" over their use of cannabis. Of the 70 million Americas estimated to have tried the drug, around two million use it daily. (2)

Tolerance

Tolerance builds up rapidly after a few doses and disappears rapidly after a couple of days of abstinence. Heavy users need as much as eight times higher doses to achieve the same psychoactive effects as regular users using smaller amounts. They still get stoned but not as powerfully.

One effect of cannabis you can't develop tolerance to is "the stimulatory effect on the appetite" or munchies.

Withdrawal

If you are a regular cannabis smoker (every day) and you stop smoking, you will experience some of the following withdrawal symptoms: restlessness, irritability, mild agitation, insomnia, nausea, sleep disturbance, sweats, and intense dreams. These symptoms however are mild and short-lived, lasting 2 to 4 days.

Mixing with other drugs

Frankly cannabis is a good mixer. There are no major health risks which is probably why many recreational drug users smoke it.

Please note: there have been very few scientific studies into the effects of combining psychoactive drugs. The information presented here is anecdotal. It is based on the subjective reports of experienced users. Different people will respond differently to different drugs and drug combination. Know your body.

alcohol makes both drugs stronger; manageable at low doses, but can cause vomiting, dizziness, and increased paranoia with large amounts of both

amphetamines can take the edge off the harsh speed buzz

cocaine unusual combination (uppers and downers) but can help modulate the grinding intensity of coke

ecstasy extends and expands the E experience; used to help bring on the high, it mellows the intense rushes and helps with the come-down; makes the ecstasy more psychedelic.

heroin complimentary effects

ketamine no reported problems, but make sure you stub it out before taking K; K amplifies certain cannabis effects (especially closed eye visuals and mind tunnels)

LSD dulls the experience in the come-up; heightens the peak; brings back the effect during comedown

mushrooms as above; can increase weirdness of the experience

tobacco is a nasty drug

Legal considerations

Cannabis is illegal to possess and cultivate in most countries. However, recent research into its medical benefits have revealed it is a relatively benign and mostly harmless substance. Many countries, including the UK, Portugal and Canada, are re-evaluating the plant's legal status.

In the UK

On the 29th January 2004, cannabis was reclassified from a class B to a Class C drug. Class C is reserved for substances with an accepted medical use, such as steroids, anti-depressants, and some tranquillisers.

Note: it's still illegal to possess or cultivate the plants. However, if you're caught with cannabis, police can give you an official warning, rather than cautioning or charging you with an offence.

You can be arrested if:

• you are publicly smoking
• you've previously offended or been given a warning
• you are aged 17 or under
• you are close to schools or other 'youth premises'
• you are wearing a "High Times" T-shirt and a tall stripey rasta hat

Okay, not the last one. The maximum penalty is now two years instead of five.

In the US

Meanwhile, cannabis remains a Schedule I drug in the United States, along with LSD and heroin, carrying the severest federal penalties for possession and supply.


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