Psychoactive Drug - Cannabis

Hannah Shawver

*Cannabis contains the chemical compound THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), which is believed to be responsible for most of the characteristic psychoactive effects of cannabis

*Cannabis is a species of the Cannabinaceae family of plants and is classified as a depressant.

*Cannabis is also known as Ganja, grass, Hashish, Hemp, Indian hemp, marijuana, Pot, reefer, weed.

*The dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant are known as marijuana, which can be smoked (through a pipe or bong or hand-rolled into a joint) or taken orally with food (ex: baked in cookies)

*While cannabis remains a Schedule 1 substance, research has resulted in development and marketing of dronabinol and nabilone which are synthetic cannabinoid products.

  • Marinol (dronabinol) is used for the control of nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of cancer and to stimulate appetite in AIDS patients.
  • Cesamet (nabilone) is used for the control of nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of cancer.
How MARIJUANA effects the Brain

Short Term Effects of cannabis include:

  • an altered state of consciousness. The user may feel "high", very happy, euphoric, relaxed, sociable and uninhibited.
  • distorted perceptions of time and space. The user may feel more sensitive to things around them, and may also experience a more vivid sense of taste, sight, smell and hearing.
  • increased pulse and heart rate, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, and often increased appetite.
  • impaired coordination and concentration, making activities such as driving a car or operating machinery difficult and dangerous.
  • negative experiences, such as anxiousness, panic, self-consciousness and paranoid thoughts.
  • Long term effects of heavy use can include:
    • irritation to the lungs, risk of developing chronic bronchitis and an increased risk of developing cancer of the respiratory tract (more likely to do with smoking).
    • exacerbation of pre-existing cardiovascular disease, as cannabis use significantly raises the heart rate.
    • decreased concentration levels, reduced short-term memory and difficulties with thinking and learning (resolved if cannabis use stops).
    • decreased sex drive in some people. Chronic use can lower sperm count in males and lead to irregular periods in females (resolved if cannabis use stops).
    • dependence on cannabis - compulsive need to use the drug, coupled with problems associated with chronic drug use.
  • *People who use large quantities of cannabis may become sedated or disoriented and may experience toxic psychosis - not knowing who they are, where they are, or what time it is. High doses may also cause fluctuating emotions, fragmentary thoughts, paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations and feelings of unreality.
  • *The effects of cannabis are felt within minutes, reach their peak in 10 to 30 minutes, and may linger for two or three hours. THC is highly lipid soluble and can be stored in fat cells potentially for several months. The stored THC is released very slowly, and unevenly, back into the bloodstream.
  • Dependence on Cannabis

    • Tolerance to the effects of marijuana, meaning that more marijuana is needed to get the same effect
    • Withdrawal from the effects of marijuana, such as irritability, trouble sleeping and depressive symptoms
    • Using more marijuana than was intended
    • Persistent desire to stop taking marijuana or to cut down and being unsuccessful at this
    • Spending lots of time obtaining, using or recovering from the use of marijuana
    • Giving up important activities in favor of using marijuana
    • Using marijuana even when it is known that it causes problems

    Common Cannabis Myth

    Myth: Cannabis causes crime

    Fact: Some people believe that cannabis use leads to violence and aggression, and that this, in turn, leads to crime. But the facts just don’t stack up. Serious research into this area has found that cannabis users are often less likely to commit crimes because of its effect in reducing aggression. Having said that, because of the number of nations that have outlawed cannabis, most users in the world are technically classified as criminals merely for possessing the drug.