Cannabis The Facts
Although it’s usage has reportedly fallen, Cannabis, also known as Marijuana, weed, dope, grass, skunk, gear and a number of other names, remains the most widely used illegal drug in the UK. Having shaken off it’s ‘Hippie’ image from the early 1970’s, Skunk and Cheese became the words on everyone’s lips when it was time to chill out, calm down and relax, especially as the dance and rave culture of the ’80’s and ’90’s took hold with their Acid House vibe and Ecstasy fueled all-night clubs.
Reports from as recent as 2014 state that the general usage of Cannabis is reducing dramatically, although the number of arrests, cautions and ‘grow-rooms’ has increased significantly, together with our nations tendency to be an island of shopkeepers and produce our own Cannabis, rather than import it from foreign countries, as was the case during the 1960’s and ’70’s.
Reports publishing the results from 2014 report that:
- The proportion of 11-15 year old’s in England who had used cannabis in the past year fell from 13.3% in 2003 to 7% in 2013.
- The proportion of 16-59 year old’s using cannabis in the last year has fallen from 10.6% in 2003-04 to 6.6% in 2013-14.
The Effects Of Cannabis.
People experience differing effects from Cannabis, it can depend on how much you have smoked in the past, your tolerance level and the strength of the weed they are smoking. In general, most people feel an array of effects that include;
- Relaxed and happy.
- Talkative and more sociable
- Altered perception of colour and music
- Slowing down of time.
For some people, Cannabis can induce negative reactions, including;
- Feeling faint and sick.
- Tired and lethargic
- Confused, anxious and paranoid
- Loss of immediate, short-term memory
Many of these negative feelings and emotions are caused by the increase in THC and the strength of modern, indoor grown Cannabis. The ‘grass’ or weed smoked in the past, was original Land Race Cannabis. Harvested plants that grew naturally outdoors in warmer climates with a far lower THC content.The introduction of ‘Skunk’ weed during the late 1980’s increased the overall strength of the Cannabis and made indoor growing possible.
Is Cannabis Addictive?
Cannabis in it’s natural, Land-Race form was rated as a non-addictive substance, however, recent research suggests that approximately 10% of heavy and prolonged users of the stronger ‘Skunk’ varieties can form a dependency to the drug.
Regular use in younger people has shown that Cannabis can lead to a lack of motivation and a disassociation with everyday life such as education, work and the ability to concentrate. Heavy use can lead to difficulties in learning and remembering new information and tasks.
The more Cannabis a person smokes, and the longer the duration, the more likely it becomes that the body will develop a tolerance against it’s affects. This means smoking more, or stronger weed to get the same relaxed, high feelings. Over time this can lead to a dependency, which in turn, can lead to withdrawal symptoms when they wish to stop.
Read more about Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms.
Many Cannabis smokers mix their weed with tobacco to roll a ‘spliff’ or ‘joint’. This can also lead to nicotine addiction, which is a far harder addiction to break. Smoking Cannabis with tobacco brings in other health related issues such as lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses associated with smoking.
Cannabis And Your Health
There have been many studies into both the benefits of using Cannabis as well as the risks associated with it’s long-term use. Recent French evidence discovered that drivers under the influence of Cannabis were twice as likely to cause a fatal crash as it affects the drivers ability to focus and concentrate correctly. Cannabis is similar to alcohol in the way it alters the thought process, and for that reason driving while under it’s influence is illegal.
There are several ways to enjoy Cannabis. It can be used to make Cannabis butter, great for cooking with, it can be vaporised, this strips the THC and active ingredients from the bud without the need to burn it, or it can be burnt and smoked.
Medical opinion is that for all the benefits Cannabis may have, once it is burnt and you inhale the carcinogens, these benefits are negated by the cancer causing chemicals released into the lungs. Mixing Cannabis with tobacco before smoking and inhaling it, only compounds the problem as even more chemicals are absorbed by the lungs, increasing the risk of lung cancer, strokes and asthma.
Studies have shown that Cannabis use, especially prolonged use from an early age, can result is an increased risk of mental health issues later in life. Psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia, hallucinations and delusions have all been reported, and the risks appear to increase if there is a history of mental health problems within the family.
Although inconclusive in humans, animal trials have suggested that Cannabis can affect your fertility by lowering the sperm count in males, and disrupting ovulation in females.
Any form of smoking while pregnant is bad for the unborn child. Deprivation of oxygen to the baby can reduce its development and lead to smaller, premature babies. Smoking Cannabis mixed with tobacco, or pure during pregnancy may affect your babies mental health and development.
Almost all recent studies have shown that smoking Cannabis from an early age may lead to mental health problems later in life. These problems are less prominent in older people whose brains were fully formed before they began smoking.
The Medical Benefits Of Cannabis
Many studies have been undertaken as to the effective use of Cannabis as a medicine. While part of the medical community are convinced it has a role to play in modern medicine, others are unsure. Reports have shown that the two major chemicals of Cannabis THC and CBD can help to relieve the pain of muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.
Formal tests and trials are ongoing as to it’s effectiveness against a wide range of other ailments and illnesses including; Glaucoma, appetite loss, epilepsy and pain relief.
Over 19 separate States in America has sanctioned the use of medical marijuana and cannabis for registered patients.