It’s the most widely-used illegal drug in Britain, although the numbers of people using it are falling.
There are many myths about cannabis - that it’s safe because it’s natural, that using cannabis will completely ruin your life, your health and your future or that using cannabis will lead you into using other, more dangerous drugs. What is true is that cannabis can havesome very real, harmful effects on your mind and body, as well as creating longer-term problems:
Although it’s all from the same plant, cannabis comes in many different forms.
Hash is a black or brown soft lump made from the resin of the cannabis plant. It’s much less common in the UK than it used to be.
Grass, also known as weed, is made from the dried leaves and flowering parts of the female cannabis plant and looks like tightly packed dried herbs. This traditional grass was normally imported and much weaker than the ‘skunk’ types of cannabis usually sold now.
Skunk is a group of different types of strong herbal cannabis. Sinsemilla, homegrown cannabis, netherweed are all different types of cannabis that are part of this ‘skunk’ group. Cannabis can seriously affect your mind and body and this group could pose even more risks because of their strength.
Cannabis oil is a sticky, dark honey-coloured substance and is much less common.
There are a few ways of taking cannabis:
Cannabis has a number of different effects. It is classed as a sedating and hallucinogenic drug. Its effects can turn out to be pleasant or unpleasant:
Cannabis can mess with your body.
Mixing cannabis with alcohol can have particularly serious consequences - the accident rate is 16 times higher than for cannabis or alcohol alone.
Cannabis may be ‘cut’ with other substances to increase the weight and the dealer’s profits.
The simple answer is ‘yes, people do become dependent on cannabis’. This means you can get 'cravings’ for cannabis, and may have difficulty staying off it even if you recognise using it has started to cause you problems. And regular users can also get some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms on stopping, including irritability, mood changes, feeling sick, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping; and even sweating, shaking and diarrhoea in some people.
You’re also at real risk of getting addicted to nicotine, or staying addicted to it, if you roll your spliffs with tobacco. If you feel that you have a problem with your cannabis use and want to stop or cut down, there are treatment services that can help you.
If the Police catch you with cannabis, they’ll always take some action. This could be a warning, a reprimand, a formal caution, a fixed penalty or an arrest and possible conviction. A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a pretty serious impact. It can stop you visiting certain countries – for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for.