Cannabis is the most widely used drug in the UK and the USA and arguably, the world. Most of the cannabis bought in the UK is now actually grown here. Its positive & negative effects on the mind and the medical benefits are widely debated. This page aims to arm you with the facts and also harm reduction information to help you stay safer when using cannabis.
What is cannabis?
Cannabis is a plant which can be grown naturally in most hot countries. However, due to the easy access to growing equipment, it can also be grown indoors. It is the flowers (buds) of the female plant that users use to get high. It falls into the hallucinogenic category of drugs because it mildly affects your five senses (smell, sight, taste, touch and sound). The two main chemicals in cannabis are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). These chemicals are known as cannabinoids and it is reported that there are over 100 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
How is it made?
Cannabis takes between 3 and 5 months to fully grow. A lot of the cannabis on the streets of Lanarkshire today is grown in Scotland. Growing cannabis in the UK is illegal and can lead to up to 14 years in jail if you are caught.
You need a lot of equipment and a decent bit of knowledge to grow cannabis indoors.
We can't tell you too much about that but here is what we can tell you about the production process:
There are thousands of different types of the cannabis plant - these are known as strains. To find out more about the different cannabis strains and how you might feel if you use these strains visit the Leafly site. This website categorises almost all known strains of the cannabis plant.
Please note: this website may be blocked on computers with internet keyword filters.
How do people use cannabis?
The most common way for people to use cannabis is in a joint, with tobacco.
Some other methods are:
Cannabis and The Body
Cannabis can affect users in different ways. Some effects can be positive and some effects can be negative. There is a lot of misinformation around about the effects of cannabis. This section just looks at the short term effects of cannabis use.
The effects are (from positive to negative):
Happy or Euphoric
Giggly (hitting the giggles)
Hungry (the munchies)
Talkative and sociable
Slurred or slowed speech
Lost sense of time and reality
Heightens your five senses (taste, touch, smell, sight & sound)
Lazy & demotivated
A stoneover is the feeling you have the morning after using a lot of cannabis. You can feel a bit slow, groggy and down. It's a mild comedown caused by cannabis use. Like a hangover, the only way to get rid of it is rest and time. Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat healthily. It might be a good idea not to drive or operate any heavy machinery as your reaction times may be affected.
The Science Bit
An analysis by DrugScience which added up and compared the harm caused by 20 different drugs in the UK placed cannabis roughly in the middle; it causes more harm to society than several other illegal drugs (mostly because there are many more users) but less harmful to its users than the legal drugs tobacco and alcohol, both of which have a higher potential to cause serious illness and death.
Long term use
People that use high strength cannabis - those who use every day over a long period of time, are at risk of developing a dependence or addiction to cannabis.
More research is needed in this field, however, it is widely accepted that regular users of cannabis might be at risk of the following:
Difficulty making decisions
Difficulty learning new things
Difficulty making future plans
If you are like most UK users of cannabis and you roll joints with tobacco, you are at risk of many different illnesses and cancers.
If you are concerned about your cannabis use or someone else's, your Doctor can help by linking you into some local help services. Contact your family GP or Doctor for further help. Have a look at our Further Information section at the bottom of this page for more information.
Cannabis & Mental Health
There has been a lot written in the media about the link between regular cannabis use and mental ill-health. As of date there is no definitive answer, however, it is widely recognised that cannabis containing higher levels of THC (also known as skunk) can have a negative impact on users mental health.
For more information visit the DrugScience website.
Cannabis is a ‘Class B’ drug as categorised by the Missuse of Drug Act (1971). It is illegal to possess, give away, sell or grow cannabis.
Up to 5 years in prison
Up to 14 years in prison
an unlimited fine
Up to 14 years in prison
an unlimited fine
Like any drug, if you are caught driving under the influence of drugs you could receive a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison sentence. Not to mention it is extremely dangerous to yourself and other road users.
Q: Is it illegal to smoke weed in your own home?
A: It is illegal to smoke weed anywhere in the UK - including on your own property. If you live in rented accommodation your landlord can evict you if you are caught using cannabis.
One of the healthiest ways for your body to consume cannabis is eating it. This is because you are not damaging your lungs when you do so. However, eating cannabis can result in you absorbing more THC than you’re used to. The effects may be a lot stronger and last longer.
If you are thinking about trying edibles here is some stuff you should be aware of:
The effects might last longer and be much stronger than you’re used to.
Consider eating half the amount, if you don’t feel as stoned as you want to, you can always eat more. Sometimes it’s best to start with a low dose to see how it’s going to feel first. Edibles aren’t for everyone.
Edibles can take between 30 mins and 2 hours before you feel their effects.
The UK Government recently agreed to make cannabis-based medicine legally available. From the 1st of November 2018 cannabis-based medicine is available on prescription.
“cannabis-based products can be prescribed medicinally where there is an unmet clinical need.” –NHS England Cannabis Brief (31st October 2018)
There are two cannabis base medicines available at the moment on the NHS these are:
SATIVEX contains both THC & CBD extracted from two different strains of the cannabis plant and is used for treating MS.
Nabilone is medicine, taken as a capsule that has been developed to act in a similar way to THC but is not made from the cannabis plant, it is a synthetic cannabinoid.
The current position is that no cannabis-based products for medicinal use are routinely available in the NHS in Scotland. When licensed, products will become subject to normal NHS appraisal processes.
Drug Testing Facts
Cannabis can be detected in your body a few different ways. Many employers randomly drug test their employees. Some of them can even test for drugs before you start the job... This means you may have to give a urine, blood or saliva sample if asked. See the image below to find out how cannabis can be detected in your system:
The amount of time cannabis can be detected in your body depends on your; weight, height, tolerance levels and how often you use it. Regular users might test positive for longer.
If you decide to use cannabis, think about the following harm reduction messages.
Have a look at the links below for further reading and information.
TALK TO FRANK - https://www.talktofrank.com/
ADDACTION - https://www.addaction.org.uk/
DRUGS METER - https://drugsmeter.com/
DRUG SCOPE - http://www.drugscope.org.uk/
KNOW THE SCORE - https://knowthescore.info/
SCOTTISH DRUGS FORUM - http://www.sdf.org.uk/
DRUG SCIENCE - https://drugscience.org.uk/
NHS LANARKSHIRE - https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/cannabis-the-facts/
CHOICES FOR LIFE - https://young.scot/campaigns/national/choices-for-life
LEAFLY - https://www.leafly.com/
HIGH TIMES - https://hightimes.com/
HIGH & POLITE - https://www.highandpolite.co.uk/
CANNABIS SUPPORT AU - https://cannabissupport.com.au/