Aka: Hash, marijuana, dope, weed, grass, pot, puff, ganja
Remember: All drugs, including the misuse of prescribed medication, can pose serious health risks, up to and including possible death.
Cannabis can be smoked (in a pipe or rolled with tobacco as a spliff or joint) or eaten. It shouldn't be longer than five minutes before the effects are felt. These may last up to one hour with low doses and for two to three hours with high doses.
What are the effects of cannabis?
- When stoned you can feel relaxed, talkative, dreamy, philosophical or giggly. You can get cravings for food called “the munchies” and it feels like you can't get enough food.
- A heightened awareness of sound, colour and textures may occur, as may a light-headed floating sensation.
- Usual doses of cannabis may also interfere with short-term memory and learning ability, as well as co-ordination (so manual skills are impaired). Moderate doses may interfere with clarity of speech. Music or TV might suddenly seem endlessly fascinating and unusually moving.
- Unpleasant reactions include fearfulness, confusion, severe panic and anxiety, paranoid reactions and hallucinations.
What are the risks of cannabis?
- Like cigarettes, smoking cannabis can damage your throat and lungs. It may cause chronic bronchitis, coughing, hoarseness, and other respiratory problems similarly associated with tobacco smoking.
- Users may undergo temporary and in a small percentage of cases, severe psychological distress and confusion. Heavy use amongst those with a mental illness may make their condition worse.
- User may appear lack energy and perform poorly at work or education.
- It seems that there may be a slightly increased risk of developing schizophrenia in those who started using cannabis at a young age (under the age of 18). As with all drugs, it appears that risk increases with use. So someone who uses cannabis daily may be more likely to suffer side effects than someone who only uses it occasionally.
- Among the other known or suspected long term effects of continuous cannabis use are decreased sperm count and sperm mobility, interference with ovulation and pre-natal development and impaired immune system response.
What does the law say about cannabis?
- All cannabis products are controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Acts. Cannabis is included in Schedule 1, which prohibits its medical and non-medical use.
- It is therefore illegal to grow, produce, supply or possess any of the drugs, except in accordance with a licence from the Minister for Health for research or analysis. It is also an offence to allow premises to be used for cultivating, supplying or smoking cannabis.
What to do if cannabis users experience feelings of tension and anxiety
- Calm the person down and reassure them.
- Talk quietly and explain these feelings will pass.
- Keep them away from bright lights and loud noises. Encourage them to breathe deeply and slowly in order to prevent hyperventilation.