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Cannabis
File:Macro cannabis
A dried flower of the Cannabis sativa plant. Note the visible trichomes (commonly referred to as crystals), which carry a large portion of the drug content.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Cannabis
Species: C. sativa
Binomial name
Cannabis sativa
Linnaeus
Subspecies

C. sativa L. subsp. sativa
C. sativa L. subsp. indica

Cannabis, also known as marijuana or marihuana[1] which is derived from the Spanish,[2] and ganja (from Sanskrit: गांजा gañjā, hemp), as well as weed, grass, pot, reefer, dope, and mary jane (M.J.), among many others, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for human consumption as a psychoactive drug, the most common of which is the natural herbal form.

The herbal form of the drug consists of mature female flowers and sub-tending leaves of pistillate plants. The resinous form, known as hashish or hash,[3] consists primarily of glandular trichomes collected from the same plant material. The major psychoactive chemical compound in Cannabis is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), commonly abbreviated as Δ9-THC or simply THC.

Marijuana is seen in strains of either pure breeds or hybrid breeds of Cannabis, typically of the subspecies Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa. Strains are developed to highlight a specific combination of properties of the plant or to establish marketing differentiation.

The human consumption of Cannabis pre-dates history.[4] Humans have consumed Cannabis for over 10,000 years.[5] In the 20th century there was a considerable increase in its use for recreational, religious or spiritual, and medicinal purposes. It is estimated that about 4% of the world's adult population (162 million) use Cannabis annually and 0.6 percent (22.5 million) daily.[6] The possession, use, or sale of psychoactive Cannabis products became illegal in most parts of the world in the early 20th century. Since then, some countries have intensified the enforcement of Cannabis prohibition while others have reduced the priority of enforcement.

Contents

Potency

Psychoactive potency (concentration of THC) of the components of a Cannabis plant are approximately as follows (descending order):[7]

  1. Trichomes
  2. Female flowers
  3. New shoots
  4. Leaves from flowers
  5. Leaves in ascending order of size
  6. Stems of leaves (petioles) in ascending order of size
  7. Stems in ascending order of size
  8. Roots and seeds

Forms

Flowers

  • Cannabis: The flowers of female plants.[8] Contains between less than 1% THC to 22% THC; the wide range is probably one of the reasons for the conflicting results from different scientific studies.

Hashish

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Kief

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  • Moroccan hashish produced in the Rif mountains;[10]
  • Sifted Cannabis trichomes consisting of only the glandular "heads" (often incorrectly referred to as "crystals" or "pollen");
  • These trichomes can also be pressed together under pressure to make hashish.

Hash oil

Hash oil, or honey oil, is an essential oil extracted from the Cannabis plant through the use of various solvents. It has a high proportion of cannabinoids (ranging from 40-90%).[11]

Resin


Because of THC's adhesive properties, resin builds up inside the paraphernalia when Cannabis is smoked. It has tar-like properties but still contains THC as well as other cannabinoids. This resin still has all the psychoactive properties of Cannabis but is harsher and less healthy on the lungs. Cannabis users typically only smoke resin as a last resort when they have run out of Cannabis flowers.[12]

Methods of consumption

vaporizer.]]

. Such utensils provide small, lower-temperature servings.]]

Cannabis is consumed in many different ways, most of which either involve inhaling smoke from ignited plant or administering orally.

Various devices exist for smoking Cannabis. The most commonly used include screened bowls, bongs, chillums, paper-wrapped joints and cigar-leaf-wrapped blunts. 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.

The vaporizer heats herbal Cannabis to 365–410 °F (185–210 °C), which causes the active ingredients to evaporate into a gas without burning the plant material (the boiling point of THC is 392 °F (200°C) at 0.02 mmHg pressure, and somewhat higher at standard atmospheric pressure),[13] 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, cannabinol (CBN) has a flash point of 212.7 °C[14] 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.[15]

Cannabis material can be leached in high-proof spirits (often grain alcohol) to create a tincture referred to as "Green Dragon". This process is often employed to make use of low-potency stems and leaves.Template:Fact

Cannabis can also be consumed as a tea. THC is lipophilic and only slightly water soluble (with a solubility of 2.8 mg per liter),[16] so tea is made by first adding a saturated fat to hot water (i.e., butter, cream or any kind of milk except skim) and using a small amount of Cannabis along with green or black tea leaves and some honey or sugar, steeped for about 5 minutes.

Effects

File:Bodily effects of
Main short-term somatic (bodily) effects of Cannabis.

Cannabis has psychoactive and physiological effects when consumed. The minimum amount of THC required to have a perceptible psychoactive effect is about 10 mcg/kg of body weight.[17] Aside from a subjective change in perception, the most common short-term physical and mental effects of Cannabis include increased heart rate or tachycardia, lowered blood pressure or hypotension, dry mouth or xerostomia, red eye, fatigue, restlessness, impaired coordination or ataxia, concentration, motivation, and short-term episodic and working memory, increased appetite or hyperphagia (also known as the "munchies"), feelings of well-being, enhanced relaxation and/or stress reduction, euphoria, paranoia, anxiety, metacognition or introspection, enhanced perception and/or increased awareness of sensation, and time dilation.[18] Long-term effects are less clear.[19][20]

Classification

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While many drugs clearly fall into the category of either stimulant, depressant, hallucinogen, or antipsychotic, Cannabis, containing both THC and CBD, exhibits a mix of all properties, leaning towards hallucinogen properties, mostly a stimulant and/or depressant state of being with psychoactive effects. Some studies suggest other cannabinoids, especially CBD, found in the Cannabis plant alters the psychoactivity of THC by producing the depressant and/or stimulant effects.[21][22][23]

Health issues

The smoking of Cannabis is the most harmful method of consumption, since the inhalation of smoke from organic materials such as Cannabis, tobacco, and rolling papers can cause various health problems.[24]

In comparison, study on Cannabis vaporizing 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."[25] Another study found vaporizers to be "a safe and effective cannabinoid delivery system."[26][27]

).[28]]]

A 2007 study by the Canadian government found Cannabis smoke contained more toxic substances than tobacco smoke.[29] The study determined that marijuana smoke contained 20 times more ammonia, and five times more hydrogen cyanide and nitrogen oxides than tobacco smoke. In spite of this, recent studies have been unable to demonstrate a direct link between lung cancer and frequent direct inhalation of marijuana smoke. While many researchers have failed to find a correlation,[30][31] some researchers still conclude that Cannabis smoke poses a higher risk of lung cancer than tobacco.[32] Some studies have even shown that the non-intoxicating ingredient cannabidiol found in marijuana may be useful in treating breast cancer.[33]

Cannabis use has been assessed by several studies to be correlated with the development of anxiety, psychosis, and depression,[34][35] however, 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,[36] 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.[37][38]

Though Cannabis use has at times been associated with stroke, there is no firmly established link, and potential mechanisms are unknown.[39] Similarly, there is no established relationship between Cannabis use and heart disease, including exacerbation of cases of existing heart disease.[40] 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.[41]

Gateway drug hypothesis

Some claim that trying Cannabis increases the probability that users will eventually use harder drugs. This hypothesis has been one of the central pillars of anti-Cannabis drug policy in the United States,[42] though the validity and implications of these hypotheses are highly debated.[43] Studies have shown that tobacco smoking is a better predictor of concurrent illicit hard drug use than smoking Cannabis.[44]

No widely accepted study has ever demonstrated a cause-and-effect relationship between the use of Cannabis and the later use of harder drugs like heroin and cocaine. However, the prevalence of tobacco cigarette advertising and the practice of mixing tobacco and Cannabis together in a single large joint, common in Europe, are believed to be a factor in promoting nicotine dependency among young persons investigating Cannabis.[45]

A 2005 comprehensive review of the literature on the Cannabis gateway hypothesis found that pre-existing traits may predispose users to addiction in general, the availability of multiple drugs in a given setting confounds predictive patterns in their usage, and drug sub-cultures are more influential than Cannabis itself. The study called for further research on "social context, individual characteristics, and drug effects" to discover the actual relationships between Cannabis and the use of other drugs.[46]

The main variant of the gateway hypothesis is that people, upon trying Cannabis for the first time and not finding it dangerous, are then tempted to try other, harder drugs. In such a scenario, a new user of Cannabis who feels there is a difference between anti-drug information and their own experiences will apply this distrust to public information about other, more powerful drugs.Template:Fact Some studies state that while there is no proof for this gateway theory, young Cannabis users should still be considered as a risk group for intervention programs.[47] Other findings indicate that hard drug users are likely to be "poly-drug" users, and that interventions must address the use of multiple drugs instead of a single hard drug.[48]

Another gateway hypothesis is that while Cannabis is not as harmful or addictive as other drugs, a gateway effect may be detected as a result of the "common factors" involved with using any illegal drug. Because of its illegal status, Cannabis users are more likely to be in situations which allow them to become acquainted with people who use and sell other illegal drugs.[49][50] By this argument, some studies have shown that alcohol and tobacco may be regarded as gateway drugs.[44] However, a more parsimonious explanation could be that Cannabis is simply more readily available (and at an earlier age) than illegal hard drugs, and alcohol/tobacco are in turn easier to obtain earlier than Cannabis (though the reverse may be true in some areas), thus leading to the "gateway sequence" in those people who are most likely to experiment with any drug offered.[43]

History

, has been shown to go back at least 10,000 years in Taiwan.[23] Má (Pinyin pronunciation), the Chinese expression for hemp, is a pictograph of two plants under a shelter.[51]]]

Evidence of the inhalation of Cannabis smoke can be found as far back as the 3rd millennium BC as indicated by charred Cannabis seeds found in a ritual brazier at an ancient burial site in present day Romania. The most famous users of Cannabis were the ancient Hindus of India and Nepal. The herb was called ganjika in Sanskrit (गांजा/গাঁজা ganja in modern Indic languages).[52][53] The ancient drug soma, mentioned in the Vedas as a sacred intoxicating hallucinogen, was sometimes associated with Cannabis.[54]

Cannabis was also known to the ancient Assyrians, who discovered its psychoactive properties through the Aryans.[55] Using it in some religious ceremonies, they called it qunubu (meaning "way to produce smoke"), a probable origin of the modern word 'Cannabis'.[56] Cannabis was also introduced by the Aryans to the Scythians and Thracians/Dacians, whose shamans (the kapnobatai—“those who walk on smoke/clouds”) burned Cannabis flowers to induce a state of trance.[57] Members of the cult of Dionysus, believed to have originated in Thrace (Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey), 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.[58][59]

from Vienna Dioscurides, 512 A.D.]]

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 5th to 2nd century BCE, confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus.[60] One writer has claimed that Cannabis was used as a religious sacrament by ancient Jews and early Christians[61] 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.[62]

Cannabis became illegal in the USA 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.[63][64][65] 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.[66] 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.[67]

Today, recreational use in the Western world drives a sizable demand for the drug. Cannabis is the largest cash crop in the United States, generating an estimated $36 billion market.[68] Most of the money is spent not on growing and producing but on smuggling the supply to buyers.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports that typical retail prices in Europe for Cannabis varies from 2€ to 14€ per gram, with a majority of European countries reporting prices in the range 4–10€.[69] The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime claims in its 2008 World Drug Report that typical US retail prices are 10-15 dollars per gram (approximately $430 per ounce).[70]

Demographics

New breeding and cultivation techniques

Since the beginning of the 20th century, most countries have enacted laws against the cultivation, possession, or transfer of Cannabis for recreational use. These laws have impacted adversely on the Cannabis plant's cultivation for non-recreational purposes, but there are many regions where, under certain circumstances, handling of Cannabis is legal or licensed. Many jurisdictions have lessened the penalties for possession of small quantities of Cannabis, so that it is punished by confiscation or a fine, rather than imprisonment, focusing more on those who traffic the drug on the black market.

In some areas where Cannabis use has been historically tolerated, some new restrictions have been put in place, such as the closing of Cannabis coffee shop near the borders of the Netherlands,[71] closing of coffee shops near secondary schools in the Netherlands and crackdowns on "Pusher Street" in Christiania, Copenhagen in 2004.[72][73]

Some jurisdictions use free voluntary treatment programs and/or mandatory treatment programs for frequent known users. Simple possession can carry long prison terms in some countries, particularly in East Asia, where the sale of Cannabis may lead to a sentence of life in prison or even execution.

Truth serum

Cannabis was used as a truth serum by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a US government intelligence agency formed during World War II. In the early 1940s, it was the most effective truth drug developed at the OSS labs at St. Elizabeths Hospital; it caused a subject "to be loquacious and free in his impartation of information."[74]

In May 1943, Major George Hunter White, head of OSS counter-intelligence operations in the US, arranged a meeting with Augusto Del Gracio, an enforcer for gangster Lucky Luciano. Del Gracio was given cigarettes spiked with THC concentrate from Cannabis, and subsequently talked openly about Luciano's heroin operation. On a second occasion the dosage was increased such that Del Gracio passed out for two hours.[74]

Adulterants

Adulterants in Cannabis are less common than in other drugs of abuse. Chalk (in the Netherlands) and glass particles (in the UK) have been used at times to make Cannabis appear to be higher quality.[75][76][77] Increasing the weight of hashish products in Germany with lead caused lead intoxication in at least 29 users.[78] In the Netherlands two chemical analogs of Sildenafil (Viagra) were found in adulterated marihuana.[79]

See also

Cannabis plant
Health
  • Cannabis use disorders
  • Medical Cannabis
Cannabis policy

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Further reading

  • Booth, Martin (2005). Cannabis: A History. New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-32220-8. 

External links

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