Cannabis, also known as marijuana, weed, pot, grass, dank, ganja, and less commonly, tree, are just some of the most common names for it's use as a psychoactive plant. Species of cannabis include Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. The typical form of smokeable marijuana comes from the dried flowers and subtending leaves and stems of mature pistillate plants.
The primary psychoactive compound arising within cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or simply THC, as it commonly refered to. Though THC is the main compund resulting in the "high" associated with marijuana, at least sixty-six other cannabinoids are present in cannabis, including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), among others. These are believed to influence and enhance the effects of THC.
Cannabis is indigenous to Central and South Asia. Evidence of the inhalation of cannabis smoke can be found as far back as the third millennium B.C., as indicated by charred cannabis seeds found in a ritual brazier at an ancient burial site in present day Romania. Cannabis is also known to have been used by the ancient Hindus of India and Nepal thousands of years ago. The herb was called ganjika in Sanskrit. The ancient drug soma, mentioned in the Vedas as a sacred intoxicating hallucinogen, was sometimes associated with cannabis.
Cannabis was also known to the ancient Assyrians, who discovered its psychoactive properties through the Aryans. Using it in some religious ceremonies, they called it qunubu (meaning "way to produce smoke"), a probable origin of the modern word "cannabis". Marijuana was also introduced by the Aryans to the Scythians and Thracians, whose shamans burned cannabis flowers to induce a state of trance. Members of the cult of Dionysus are also thought to have inhaled cannabis smoke. In 2003, a leather basket filled with cannabis leaf fragments and seeds was found next to a 2,500 to 2,800-year-old mummified shaman in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China.
Cannabis has an ancient history of ritual use and is found in pharmacological cults around the world. Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices like eating by the Scythians occurred during the fifth to second century B.C., confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus. One writer has claimed that cannabis was used as a religious sacrament by ancient Jews and early Christians due to the similarity between the Hebrew word "qannabbos" ("cannabis") and the Hebrew phrase "qené bósem" ("aromatic cane"). It was used by Muslims in various Sufi orders as early as the Mamluk period, for example by the Qalandars.
A study published in the South African Journal of Science showed that "pipes dug up from the garden of Shakespeare's home in Stratford upon Avon contain traces of cannabis." The chemical analysis was carried out after researchers hypothesized that the "noted weed" mentioned in Sonnet 76 and the "journey in my head" from Sonnet 27 could be references to cannabis and the use thereof.
Cannabis was criminalized in the United States in 1937 due to Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Several theories try to explain why it is illegal in most Western societies. Jack Herer, a cannabis legalization activist and writer, argues that the economic interests of the paper and chemical industry were a driving force to make it illegal. Another explanation is that beneficial effects of hemp would lower the profit of pharmaceutical companies which therefore have a vital interest to keep cannabis illegal. Those economic theories were criticized for not taking social aspect into account. The illegalization was rather a result of racism directed to associate American immigrants of Mexican and African descent with cannabis abuse.
Forms Of CannabisEdit
Marijuana generally represents the buds, flowers, leavers, and stems of the female cannabis plant. The plant has different THC potencies depending on region of growth, growing method, and time of cultivation, but the usual potency of THC in marijuana is anywhere from three to twenty percent; however, some strains can reach as high as thirty percent THC. Industrial hemp made from cannabis strains contain an extremely low amount of the psychoactive compound; less than half of a percent.
Hashish (spelled also hasheesh), or simply hash, is a resinous form of cannabis produced from the flowers and trichomes of the female plant. It is generally more potent than the botonical version marijuana, on the order of twenty to thirty percent THC. Hashish is most commonly smoked or consumed in cannabis food preperations. When smoked it is sprinkled atop marijuana in a joint, pipe, bong, or any other method of smoking. Due to different manufacturing processes, the color of hash ranges from green to redish, black to yellow, or light to dark brown.
Hash oil, sometimes referred to as honey oil, is a hydrophobic essential oil extracted from the cannabis plant via various methods and solvents. It is potentially one of the most potent forms of cannabis that can be consumed or used. Its average concentration of THC per weight is nearly forty to sixty percent. Because of this potency, honey oil is commonly used in making a variety of cannabis foods.
Kief is an extremely potent powder processed from the removed trichomes of the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It has the potential to be the most potent cannabis substance, being anywhere from eighty-five to ninety-eight percent pure THC.
Routes Of ConsumptionEdit
Cannabis is consumed in many different ways, most of which involve inhaling smoke. The most commonly used devices involved with this method of consumption include joints, tobacco-leaf-wrapped blunts, pipes, water or gravity bongs, hookahs, chillums, or by spotting the cannabis (burning it between to hot knives and inhaling the resulting vapors). Local methods differ by the preparation of the cannabis plant before use, the parts of the cannabis plant which are used, and the treatment of the smoke before inhalation.
A vaporizer heats herbal cannabis to 365 to 410 Fahrenheit (185 to 210 Celsius), which causes the active ingredients to evaporate into a gas without burning the plant material (the boiling point of THC is 392 degrees Fahrenheit (two hundred degrees Celsius), and somewhat higher at standard atmospheric pressure). A lower proportion of toxic chemicals are released than by smoking, although this may vary depending on the design of the vaporizer and the temperature at which it is set. This method of consuming cannabis produces markedly different effects than smoking due to the flash points of different cannabinoids; for example, CBN has a flash point of 212.7°C and would normally be present in smoke but might not be present in vapor.
As an alternative to smoking, cannabis may be consumed orally. However, the cannabis or its extract must be sufficiently heated or dehydrated to cause decarboxylation of its most abundant cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), into psychoactive THC.
Cannabinoids can be leached from cannabis plant matter using high-proof spirits (often grain alcohol) to create a tincture, often referred to as Green Dragon.
Cannabis can also be consumed as a tea. THC is lipophilic and only slightly water soluble (with a solubility of 2.8 milligrams per liter), so tea is made by first adding a saturated fat to hot water (i.e. cream or any milk except skim) with a small amount of cannabis, green or black tea leaves and honey or sugar, steeped for approximately five minutes.
Cannabis foods are any number of food products, namely dessert-type dishes such as brownies or cakes (but it is not uncommon that dinner-like main courses or appetizers are made with marijuana), that are made with marijuana or the resinous form of cannabis. There are numerous slang prefixes added to common foods to indicate the presense of marijuana. These include hash, magic, space, weed, cannabis, special, cosmic, and hyper. There are hundreds of foods that can coexist with cannabis; the following are just a few.
Cannabis, in any form, produces psychological as well as physiological effects when consumed. The minimum amount of THC thought to produce any effect in humans is just ten micrograms per kiligram of body weight. Aside from a subjective change in perception and consciousness, the most common short-term physical and neurological effects include increased cardiac rate, lowered blood pressure, reddening of the eyes, and impairment of concentration and psychomotor coordination.
The "high" involved with cannabis use is fairly subjective and can vary from person to person and method of use; however, some of the most reported effects included an altered state of consciousness, feelings of well-being, euphoria, stress reduction and relaxation, increased appreciation of humor, music, art, joviality, metacognition, and introspection, slightly enhanced (or impaired) recognition, increased sensuality, increased awareness of sensation, increased libido, and creative thinking. Paranoia and anxiety have also been reported in some users.
Many effects are subjective however, such as increased enjoyment of food and aroma, and enhanced enjoyment of music and comedy, distortion of the perception of time and space. At higher doses, the effects may lead to auditory and visual distortions and illusions and altered body image. In much rarer cases, the use of cannabis has lead to depersonalization and derealization, though such effects are considered to be entirely welcomed and desirable.
The physical effects are limited, but still quite noticeable. A sense of rushing nerve impulses shooting throughout the body have been reported as a usual symptom of cannabis use. Somatic effects include dry mouth, increased heart rate, reddening of the eyes, decreased intra-ocular pressure, and sensations of hot or cold hand and feet. With high doses, those sensation are found throughout the body (the rushing sensation reported by users). When the "high" subsides, or even before it has ended, many users report feeling a heavy drowsiness.
The duration of marijuana's effects are significantly different between method of consumption. When smoked and inhaled, the effects can be felt within minutes, and the peak is reached in a short half an hour. On the other hand, consuming cannabis through foods brings the onset between thirty minutes to two hours, but the effects last tremendously longer; around six hours instead of the two to three when smoked. Tenderness may persist for many hours to come until a significant amount of rest is received.
The smoking of cannabis is the most harmful method of consumption, as the inhalation of smoke from organic materials can cause various health problems.
By comparison, studies on the vaporization of cannabis found that subjects were "only 40% as likely to report respiratory symptoms as users who do not vaporize, even when age, sex, cigarette use, and amount of cannabis consumed are controlled." Another study found vaporizers to be "a safe and effective cannabinoid delivery system."
Cannabis is ranked one of the least harmful drugs by a study published in the United Kingdom medical journal, The Lancet. While a study in New Zealand of seventy-nine lung-cancer patients suggested daily cannabis smokers have a 5.7 times higher risk of lung cancer than non-users, another study of 2252 people in Los Angeles failed to find a correlation between the smoking of cannabis and lung, head or neck cancers. These effects have been attributed to the well documented anti-tumoral properties of cannabinoids, specifically tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol. Some studies have also found that moderate cannabis use may protect against head and neck cancers, as well as lung cancer. Some studies have shown that cannabidiol may also be useful in treating breast cancer.
Cannabis use has been assessed by several studies to be correlated with the development of anxiety, psychosis, and depression. Indeed, a 2007 meta-analysis estimated that cannabis use is statistically associated, in a dose-dependent manner, to an increased risk in the development of psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia. However, it is important to note that no causal mechanism has been proven, and the meaning of the correlation and its direction is a subject of debate that has not been resolved in the scientific community. Some studies assess that the causality is more likely to involve a path from cannabis use to psychotic symptoms rather than a path from psychotic symptoms to cannabis use, while others assess the opposite direction of the causality, or hold cannabis to only form parts of a "causal constellation", while not inflicting mental health problems that would not have occurred in the absence of the cannabis use.
Though cannabis use has at times been associated with stroke, there is no firmly established link, and potential mechanisms are unknown. Similarly, there is no established relationship between cannabis use and heart disease, including exacerbation of cases of existing heart disease. Though some fMRI studies have shown changes in neurological function in long term heavy cannabis users, no long term behavioral effects after abstinence have been linked to these changes.
While nearly all drugs fall into one of three categories: stimulant, depressant, and hallucinogen, cannabis exhibits a mix of properties from all three classifications, perhaps leaning most toward hallucinogenic and psychedelic qualities, though the other characteristics are quite pronounced as well.
Although the extent of the medicinal value of cannabis has been debated, it does have several well-documented beneficial effects. Among these are: the amelioration of nausea and vomiting, stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered intraocular eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as general analgesic effects (pain reliever).
Less confirmed individual studies also have been conducted indicating cannabis to be beneficial to a gamut of conditions running from multiple sclerosis to depression. Synthesized cannabinoids are also sold as prescription drugs, including Marinol (dronabinol in the United States and Germany) and Cesamet (nabilone in Canada, Mexico, The United States and The United Kingdom).
Currently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease in the United States. Regardless, thirteen states have legalized cannabis for medical use. Canada, Spain, The Netherlands and Austria have also legalized cannabis for medicinal use.
A huge variety of illness, disorders, and syndromes can lead to the legal use of medicinal marijuana. These namely include austism, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, glaucoma, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), various cancers, childhood mental disorders, hepatitis C, sickle-cell anemia, sleep apnea, various arthritises, digestive diseases, gliomas, Huntington's disease, hypertension, epilepsy, dystonia, morning sickness, asthma, and diabetic retinopathy. Certain studies suggest that the use of marijuana can also help prevent Alzheimer's disease later in life, the increased intake of foo in HIV/AIDS patients, and the treatment of brain cancer.
United States—Schedule I; several states have legalized medicinal usage
United Kingdom—Class C
Canada—Medically legal only
Russia—Small amounts (below six grams) is tolerate; however, more is punishable by law
More information: World Cannabis Map
See also: Trip Stories: Cannabis (Marijuana)
"I am a regular marijuana smoker and it feels great. It's relaxing, it's pleasurable, and it helps me fall asleep whenever I need to. It just gives you a buzz that flushes through you all the time. And when you listen to music; that's when it's amazing! I remember forgetting how to make an explosion noise with my mouth, it was hilarious!"—Natalie
"Normally weed is a great drug that I used to use at least a couple times a month, but recently I got beyond high. Don't get me wrong, I will probably do it again, but not that much. I was sitting in my room with a couple friends one night and we had a fair amount of alright weed. So we hot-boxed my room and I took around eight or nine strong hits, holding the smoke in for at least thirty seconds a hit. It felt really euphoric to begin with, but then I was sitting there trying to listen to the static in my head when these barely noticeable voices started. And I was trying to realize what they were and then I got h3ll of scared. A deep pounding in my head was overwhelming and it reminded me of the frightened, scared-beyond-belief feeling you get during a nightmare. And it "sounded" like that feeling to. It just scared the crap out of me..."—Joey
I remember smoking some really good weed out of my friend's bong and a few minutes later, I didn't even know where I was, what I was doing, or what I had just done. It wasn't frightening or scary or anything though, it was actually really fun and euphoric because me and a few of my friends just walked around and got lost in my friend's backyard amongst the trees. We eventually found our way out like an hour later. I think we were walking in circles. But it was still fun; everything is a lot funnier when your high."—Leticianna
"I love cannabis with a passion! It makes me happy, outgoing, and interested in just everything that someone has to say to me. I don't even know why because a lot of people are really distractable when they're high [like a few of my buds (no pun intended)]. I just know that when you listen to music your body vibrates, it feels really good."—Nick
"Marijuana can be used as spiritual mind-opening substance in my opinion. And that's exactly what I use it for. I detail every part of my high by typing it all down and then in the morning I look over it again and realize that marijuana makes you think some crazy things. Like this is something I wrote: '...I am on a different sound and tactile plane, music from my headphones sounds and feels like it is music from the speakers. I am bridging three of twelve sensory planes (I am definitely receiving the tactile, optical as well): optical, tactile, auditory, taste, aromatic, emotional, knowledge, imaginary, motionary, divinity, memorial, and physiological, which is different from tactile in which is it driftless...This curved world is a very angry place, but this anger is channeling through my body in a unique, pleasurable, and tingling way. I can slightly taste just by thinking. Knowledge ~(Bridging)~ Taste. There are pictures that are becoming three dimensional and into imagination...' So it is a unique drug that I think everyone should try at least once. NOTE: This experience was from smoking more than twice as much weed (holding hits in for nearly a minute—I almost passed out once to) than I ever have before."—Anonymous