Effects of Cannabis

Laws on Cannabis Use

The effects of cannabis range from getting pleasantly stoned to getting unpleasantly fearful and paranoid. One user's medicine is another's poison. Some just feel more relaxed whilst others slump in a corner giggling inanely at anything and anyone. Less appealing side effects include hallucinations, anxiety and depression.

Both good and bad side effects are attributable to a major mind altering drug called delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is a psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis. THC mimics the actions of the brain's receptors so interfering with the brain's ability to function normally.

The majority of people who use cannabis roll a joint. Many people don't feel much at all when they first use the drug and have to learn what side effects to look out for.

When eaten (usually as a cake or biscuit) the effects of cannabis are much stronger, since the dosage is less controllable.

For a lot of people cannabis is simply a means of feeling more relaxed, happy and sociable.

The relaxing effect can make people lose their inhibitions and say or do things that are out of character. Many people become more talkative or uncontrollably giggly.

The drug can also heighten colour and sound awareness which is why you find some users claiming to see all the colours of the rainbow or dancing non stop to music for several hours.

But with the highs there inevitably come the lows.

Ill-Effects of Cannabis Use

Users can become disorientated and start to hallucinate and they may become angry, depressed or anxious after the initial feeling of well being wears off. One 17-year-old recreational user describes the down side for him as "getting the fear." He says: "I start to panic and think everyone's talking about me".

Nausea and vomiting can occur when an inexperienced user has taken too much cannabis, especially when combined with alcohol. This is commonly known as "white" or "spinout."

Users can also experience short term memory loss and reduced coordination due to the temporary confusion of parts of the brain which control these particular functions.

The short term effects of cannabis generally last for up to four hours, depending on the amount used, and the body resumes normal service after that. As for the long term effects, there's no conclusive medical evidence to suggest that cannabis causes permanent damage. But there's a risk of dependence on the drug after long term use and this can make it difficult or well-nigh impossible for the addict to function "normally" without it.

There's also no evidence that cannabis is the "gateway drug" to other more dangerous drugs although those that use it are more likely than non-users to be in situations where other more harmful substances are readily available.

A recent study by the British Lung Foundation found that smoking three cannabis joints a day caused the same damage as 20 cigarettes because people tend to inhale the smoke for longer to gain the maximum "hit". The medical community is still debating whether cannabis use leads to lung cancer - but it's a fact that cannabis contains more carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) than tobacco.

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