Cannabis (drug)

Leaves of a Cannabis sativa plant
Leaves of a Cannabis sativa plant

Cannabis (also known in its herbal form as marijuana or ganja, or as hash in its resinous form), and is the source of a psychoactive drug produced from parts of the Cannabis sativa plant. The herbal forms are primarily from the cured flowers and gathered trichomes of the female plant, as well as the less psychoactive remains of the plant; highly psychoactively concentrated resin, known as hashish, is composed of the compressed trichomes collected from the leaves and flowers of a mature, flowering female Cannabis plant.

The major active chemical compound Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, has psychoactive and medicinal effects when consumed, usually by smoking or ingestion. Humans have been consuming cannabis since prehistory, though in the 20th century there was a rise in the use of cannabis for recreational and religious purposes. At the beginning of the 21st century, it is estimated that cannabis is used regularly by 4 per cent of the world's adult population each year,[1]with in the West estimates of up to 20% or greater in the United States as having tried the plant, and estimates of 10-30% or greater using the plant in many European countries. The possession, use, or sale of psychoactive cannabis products became illegal in most parts of the world in the early 20th century. Since then, while some countries have intensified the enforcement of cannabis prohibition, others have reduced the priority of enforcement almost to the point of legalization, as is the case in The Netherlands. The supplying of cannabis remains illegal almost everywhere in the world through the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, while simple possession of small quantities is either legal or treated as an addiction rather than a criminal offence in a few countries. Yet in some areas of India, near the Ganges river, it is traditionally and legally used.



Ancient history

Biologists generally agree that the cannabis plant first grew somewhere in the Himalayas.[citation needed] Evidence of the smoking of cannabis can be found as far back as the Neolithic age, where charred hemp seeds were found in a ritual brazier at a burial site in present day Romania.[2] The most famous users of cannabis were the ancient Hindus. It was called ganjika in Sanskrit (ganja in modern Indian languages, named for the Ganges river [3]).[4] The ancient drug soma, mentioned in the Vedas as a sacred intoxicating hallucinogen, was sometimes associated with cannabis.[5]

The citizens of the Persian Empire would partake in the ceremonial burning of massive cannabis bonfires, directly exposing themselves and neighboring tribes to the billowing fumes, often for over 24 hours.[6][7]

Cannabis was also well known to the Assyrians, who discovered it from the Aryans. Using it in some religious ceremonies, they called it qunubu, or the drug for sadness. Also introduced by the Aryans, the Scythians as well as the Thracians/Dacians used it, whose shamans (the kapnobatai - "those who walk on smoke/clouds") burned cannabis flowers in order to induce trances. The cult of Dionysus, which is believed to have originated in Thrace, is also believed to have inhaled cannabis smoke.

Dried Cannabis leaves were found with a 2,800 year old mummy of a shaman in Xingjian, China, thought to be from the Tang dynasty.[8]


Religious and spiritual use

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 by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century BC, confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus. Some historians and etymologists have claimed that cannabis was used as a religious sacrament by ancient Jews, early Christians and Muslims of the Sufi order. In India, it has been used by some of the wandering spiritual sadhus for centuries, and in modern times the Rastafari movement has embraced it. Elders of the modern religious movement known as the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church consider cannabis to be the eucharist, claiming it as an oral tradition from Ethiopia dating back to the time of Christ. Like the Rastafari, some modern Gnostic Christian sects have asserted that Cannabis is the Tree of Life. Other organized religions founded in the past century that treat cannabis as a sacrament are the THC Ministry, the Way of Infinite Harmony, Cantheism, the Cannabis Assembly and the Church of cognizance. Many individuals also consider their use of cannabis to be spiritual regardless of organized religion.


Medical use

The most significant medicinal effect of cannabis is its suppression of nausea. It also stimulates appetite and enhances food cravings, an effect sometimes described as "the munchies" because when under the influence, users appear to savor crunchy, sweet and salty foods. Cannabis is also a mild analgesic, similar in effect to aspirin or ibuprofen; and it is a mood-altering substance which can make its users more relaxed and calm.

This combination of effects has resulted in advocacy groups claiming that it is an ideal therapeutic drug for cancer and AIDS patients, who often suffer from clinical depression and from nausea (and resulting weight loss) due to chemotherapy and other treatments that directly address their symptoms. It is claimed that cannabis makes other forms of treatment for cancer and AIDS more tolerable. The nausea suppression and mild analgesic effects are also claimed to provide a degree of relief for persons suffering from seasickness, from motion sickness, or from a hangover induced by overconsumption of alcoholic beverages.

Cannabis can also reduce intraocular pressure (fluid pressure within the eye) and is therefore suggested by some advocates for glaucoma patients. It is also suggested for certain neurological illnesses such as epilepsy, migraine and bipolar disorder. Studies have found that the use of cannabis can relieve tics in patients suffering from OCD and/or Tourette syndrome. Patients treated with marijuana reported a significant decrease in both motor and vocal tics, some of 50% or more.[9][10][11] Some decrease in obsessive-compulsive behavior were also found.[9] A recent study has also suggested that cannabis might have the ability to prevent Alzheimer's disease.[12]

Currently the citizenry of 12 states in the United States (upwards of 60 million+) have legalized cannabis for medical usage to some degree, yet the federal government does not recognize the votes of the population in these states, and continues to prosecute cannabis under federal guidelines. A further 6 states (50 million more US citizens) have initiated decriminalization policies, so, interestingly, over a third of the american citizenry have a different policy with regards cannabis than does the federal government.

The medical use of cannabis is politically controversial, but physicians sometimes recommend it informally, yet of late face persecution for doing so by the federal government in the United States. A synthetic version of the major active chemical in cannabis, THC, is available in many countries in the form of a pill as the prescription drug dronabinol (Marinol). THC has also been found to reduce arterial blockages.[13] A sublingual spray derived from an extract of cannabis has also been approved for treatment of multiple sclerosis in Canada as the prescription drug Sativex[14]—this drug may now be legally imported into the United Kingdom and Spain on prescription. (Note: United States Law currently registers cannabis as a schedule I drug and Marinol as a schedule III drug.)[15]


Relationship with other illicit drugs

Since its origin in the 1950's, the "gateway drug" theory has been one of the major facets of marijuana drug policy in the United States[16]. Those who subscribe to this theory, which has since spread throughout the world, essentially believe that smoking cannabis may lead users to other drugs and should therefore be treated as a serious matter. Some studies have found the theory to be false,[17] whereas others have found truth to these claims[18]. Despite the conflicting results of these studies, much of the research on both sides suggests that the legal status of cannabis may have some correlation with the "gateway theory".[19][20] In many countries cannabis is outlawed, so the cannabis user may very easily find himself or herself in situations where other illegal drugs are being used, or he or she may become acquainted with people who use other substances illegally through the process of purchasing cannabis from black market dealers. Situations such as these may lead the user to move on to drugs that are generally considered more dangerous.


Gateway Theory in Pop Culture

The gateway theory was mentioned in a De La Soul song including B-Real of Cypress Hill, who sings "Man I ain't no quitter, Mary is my first love and I'm gonna stick with her."


New breeding and cultivation techniques

Advances in breeding and cultivation techniques have increased the diversity and potency of cannabis strains since 1970, and these strains are now widely smoked all over the world. These advances are known as the sinsemilla techniques of production; sinsemilla, Spanish for without seed, are the dried, seedless female flowers of cannabis plants which have been grown in the absence of males to ensure no pollination takes place. Because THC potency and production drops off once pollination takes place, various techniques such as seed banks, hydroponics, cloning, lighting techniques, and the sea of green method have been utilized, in part as a response to prohibition enforcement efforts which have made outdoor cultivation more risky; thus, efficient indoor cultivation has become more common. These same advances have led to fewer seeds being present in cannabis currently than were present 20 years ago.

Many opponents of cannabis use, both in and out of government, have exaggerated the increases in potency and ramifications thereof. In the United States, government advertisements encourage parents to disregard their own experience with cannabis when speaking to their children, on the premise that pot today is significantly stronger and thus more dangerous than that which they themselves might have smoked in the past.[21] In a general pattern of proposing reverses in cannabis rescheduling, the UK government is considering scheduling stronger cannabis (skunk, in local parlance) as a separate, more restricted substance. Many cannabis proponents disagree vehemently, reasoning that as one must smoke less cannabis to achieve the same effect, it actually is safer and less potentially carcinogenic in the long run than that which was smoked in earlier times.

There are three recognized subspecies of Cannabis sativa, Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa, C. sativa subsp. indica, and C. sativa subsp. ruderalis[22] Sativas are reputed to induce a noticeably more cerebral high, while indicas induce more of a body high, also referred to as "couch-lock."


Preparations for human consumption

Cannabis flowers, or buds, in a plastic bag.
Cannabis flowers, or buds, in a plastic bag.

Cannabis is prepared for human consumption in several forms:

These forms are certainly not exclusive and combinations of two or more different forms of cannabis are common. Mixing different forms is done mainly to obtain a different or more powerful effect. Between the many different strains of Cannabis, the various ways that it is prepared for consumption and methods by which it is consumed, there are innumerable types of blends or mixes, similar to the wide variety of mixed alcoholic or caffeinated beverages that are possible.

Marijuana is measured in many different ways. The most common is in fractions of an ounce. Usually dealers divide large amounts of the drug into ounces (1/16) of a pound. From there the ounces are then divided into eigths (1/8) this is the most common amount that is sold. Also marijuana can be found in metric amounts. So instead of a pound, a kilo (2.24 pounds) or grams (28g/1Oz). The measurement varies from country to country.



Variety of cannabis-smoking paraphernalia.
Variety of cannabis-smoking paraphernalia.

There are a wide variety of methods of smoking cannabis. The most popular include the joint, the blunt, the bong, the pipe more commonly called a "bowl" or "piece", the shotgun, and the one-hitter. These are sometimes smoked inside a small closed area (such as a car) used to trap smoke so that it is inhaled with every breath. This is often referred to as "hotboxing", "fishbowling", "clam-baking", "green-housing", creating a "potmosphere" or in Australia as a "compression session". In Canada, it's referred to as a 'hotbox'. Variants of this include the 'Jamaican Shower/Bath/Sauna'.

To create a joint, cannabis is rolled up into a cigarette, using rolling paper (where available). Brown paper, newsprint, and other assorted paper products can be used. Cannabis cigars, or blunts, can also be created by using the wrapper of a standard cigar.

A bong is a water pipe through which cannabis smoke is filtered. Variants include the gravity bong, which consists of a cone atop a perforated or cut water bottle. This method of cannabis smoking is one of the most efficient, as the presence of a chamber and carburetor reduce smoke waste. One can consume massive amounts of cannabis in one "hit".

Pipes are usually made of blown glass, wood, or non-reactive metals. Metal pipes are often made of interchangeable pieces. Glass pipes often have a carburetor, colloquially referred to as a carb, rush, choke, shotgun, or shooter (British use) that is covered for suction then released for inhalation. Some users also prefer vertically held pipes, or improvised pipes ("tinnies") made from aluminium foil (either constructed entirely from the foil or by using it as a gauze), small plumbing fittings, soda cans, crisp fruits or vegetables, or the cardboard from bathroom-tissue or aluminium foil rolls.

A "one-hitter" is a device that allows smaller amounts of cannabis to be smoked with equal suction. Cannabis buds are loaded into a compartment for combustion. The smoker then lights the compartment and the entire amount of cannabis is smoked. This is repeated for each hit. This method is also efficient in titrating the exact dose desired. One-hitters are often disguised as actual cigarettes in order to mislead or deceive people into believing that the person is smoking an authentic cigarette.



With a vaporizer, cannabis can be heated to a temperature of about 365 °F (185 °C), at which the active ingredients are released into gaseous form with little or no burning of the plant material.[citation needed] With this method, the user does not inhale as many (or any) toxic chemicals depending on the quality of the vaporizer. Scientific studies by MAPS/NORML have yielded varied results on the effectiveness of vaporizing as a method of cannabis consumption. One particular study by MAPS/NORML found 95% THC and no toxins delivered in the vapor.[23] However, an older study by MAPS/NORML showed minimal reduction of toxins.[24]


Hot-knifing (Blades)

Hot-knifing, "Knife hits", spots, blasting or doing blades is a process in which the tips of two knives are heated to a very high temperature, often by inserting them into the heating element of an electric or gas stove. The cannabis is then pressed between the heated knife-tips, rapidly combusting, or vaporising it depending upon the amount of heat used. The vaporized cannabis is funneled into the mouth of the smoker through the use of a glass or plastic bottle, empty pen, or other hollow tube or funnel or free handed.

In New Zealand and Australia, this is known as "spots". "Spots" can refer to both the activity of hot-kniving (aka "spotting") and the small, rolled balls of cannabis consumed in the process. Spots are much more efficient than bongs or joints; as the amount of cannabis required to constitute a hit is less and the dosage is easily controlled. This method is most commonly employed with high quality cannabis or hashish.

Another method of "spotting" uses knife blades heated to a much lower temperature, only hot enough to vaporise the active ingredients, leaving the organic material scorched, rather than burnt to ash, thus decreasing potential harmful consequences of the smoke itself.


Eating cannabis

Cannabis may be orally consumed. In order to release its psychoactive properties hashish can be eaten raw or mixed with water but marijuana will only be absorbed into the bloodstream by blending it with ethanol or lipids. The effects of the drug take longer to begin, but last longer and may be perceived as more physical rather than mental, though there are claims to the contrary. A dose of oral cannabis is often considered to give a stronger experience than the equivalent dose of smoked cannabis, and some people are displeased after ingesting the compounds this way after receiving too great an effect with an unknown dose. A common belief holds that smoking cannabis leads to a large amount of the active compounds being lost in the exhaled smoke or simply decomposing on burning, whereas ingested cannabis results in 100% consumption of the active compounds, an assertion which cannot be confirmed without objective analysis. It is thought that the active component of cannabis, Δ9-THC, is converted to the more psychoactive 11-hydroxy-THC in the liver.[25] Titration is much more complex than through inhalation. Common preparations involve blending with butter, to create Cannabutter that is used in preparing Brownies, fudge, cookies, ganja goo balls or space cakes. When blended with melted butter, the drug is finely minced almost into powder form. However, there are some preparations that do not contain butter in them and therefore fall into a slightly different category; these include the Leary biscuit, which requires less preparation than more "conventional" recipes. Infusion in drinks containing milk and flavoring herbs is also possible, and more common in India. Hollowed-out gumballs filled with the drug, wrapped and distributed labeled as Greenades, were identified in 2006 as being used by high school students in the United States.[26]

As with other drugs that are taken orally, it is sometimes customary to fast before taking the drug to increase the effect, possibly because an empty stomach will absorb the drug faster so it 'hits' stronger. However, some people do eat before consuming the drug because eating it on an empty stomach makes them feel sick. Still, time to effect onset is an hour or sometimes more, as opposed to smoking, where effects can be almost immediate.

Cannabis can also be leached in high-percentage ethanol (often grain alcohol) to create Green Dragon. This process is often used to utilize otherwise low-quality stems and leaves.

Cannabis can also be consumed as a tea. THC is lipophilic and only slightly water soluble, with a solubility of only 2.8 grams per litre,[27] but enough to make a tea effective. Water-based infusion is generally considered to be inefficient.

The seeds of the plant, high in protein and fatty acids, are appreciated by many species of birds. Many countries, including the United States, make the possession of viable cannabis seeds illegal,[28] although they can be openly bought and sold legally in much of Europe, including the UK.[citation needed]


Immediate effects of consumption

The nature and intensity of the immediate effects of cannabis consumption vary according to the dose, the species or hybridization of the source plant, the method of consumption, the user's mental and physical characteristics (such as possible tolerance), and the environment of consumption. This is sometimes referred to as set and setting. Smoking the same cannabis either in a different frame of mind (set) or in a different location (setting) can alter the effects or perception of the effects by the individual. What the user does under the influence can also affect the effects of cannabis. For example, if the user does nothing they will feel relaxed and sleepy, whereas if they engage in intense physical or mental activity they will feel energised. Effects of cannabis consumption may be loosely classified as cognitive and physical. Anecdotal evidence suggests that drug varieties of Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa tend to produce more of the cognitive or perceptual effects, while C. sativa subsp. indica tends to produce more of the physical effects.


Active ingredients, metabolism, and method of activity

Of the approximately 315[29] different psychoactive chemicals found in Cannabis, the main active ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC). THC can degrade to other cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol or cannabinol, which can make one feel sleepy and disoriented. Different cannabis products have different ratios of these and other cannabinoids. Depending on the ratio, the quality and nature of the "high" will vary.

THC has an effect on the modulation of the immune system, which may have an effect on malignant cells, but there is insufficient scientific study to determine whether this might promote or limit the cause of cancer. Cannabinoid receptors are also present in the human reproductive system, but there is insufficient scientific study to conclusively determine the effects of cannabis on reproduction. Mild allergies to cannabis may be possible in some members of the population.

A study has shown that holding cannabis smoke in one's lungs for longer periods of time does not conclusively increase THC's effects on psychological test performance.[30] However, a more recent study by the same authors indicates that a longer breath-holding duration increases the subjective ratings of ones' "high."[31] This latter study also found that a long breath-holding duration decreased subjects' subjective ratings of "calmness" more than a short breath-holding duration. Additionally, subjects who held cannabis smoke in their lungs for a long duration felt slightly less "relaxation" while subjects who held the smoke for a short period gave higher "relaxation" ratings.


Lethal dose

According to the Merck Index, 12th edition, the LD50, the lethal dose for 50% of rats tested by inhalation, is 42 mg/kg of body weight. That is the equivalent of a 165 lb (75 kg) man inhaling all of the THC in 21 one-gram cigarettes of extremely high-potency (15% THC) cannabis buds at once, assuming no THC was lost through burning or exhalation, though a substantial amount of THC is lost through smoking, making the actual amount of cannabis required higher. For oral consumption, the LD50 of THC for rats is 1270 mg/kg and 730 mg/kg for males and females, respectively, equivalent to the THC in about a pound of 15% THC cannabis. Only with intravenous administration may such a level be even theoretically possible.[32] The ratio of cannabis required to saturate cannaboid receptors to the amount of cannabis required to have a fatal over dose is 1:40,000.


Health issues and the effects of cannabis

Four one ounce bags of cannabis. A "Q.P."
Four one ounce bags of cannabis. A "Q.P."

The most obvious confounding factor in cannabis research is the very prevalent usage of other recreational drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.[33] Such complications demonstrate the need for studies on cannabis which have stronger controls and investigations into the symptoms of cannabis that may also be caused by tobacco.

In addition, research using cannabis is heavily restricted in many countries, reducing the studies funded or approved, and it will be many years before accurate unbiased information comes to light.

Unlike tobacco, cannabis has not been shown to cause emphysema or lung cancer. [34][35][36] Other studies have suggested that cannabis may be less likely to cause birth defects or developmental delays in the children of users than other drugs.[37][38] According to a United Kingdom government report, using cannabis is less dangerous than both tobacco and alcohol in social harms, physical harm and addiction.[39]

There is no scientific consensus as to the level of possible harm caused by cannabis consumption. A UK parliamentary commission found it overall less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. The available research has so far made no clear reproduceable conclusive results showing damage of any kind to the brain or nervous system or whether any damage is temporary or permanent. It is thought by some that a long period of moderate or heavy cannabis usage may cause damage to cells in the hippocampus, and that this is the area of the brain that is most vulnerable to any possible neurotoxic effects from cannabis. Whether this possible damage to the short term memory areas is permanent, and the level of harm, is not yet established conclusively, and as well some studies point to enhancement of particular types of memory.[1] Clearly cannabis has a complicated effect on memory, as to whether it is in total harmful or beneficial is still unknown. What is known for certain is that it has effects on the hippocampus and memory, as this area of the brain has receptors for cannabinoids, both those produced by the body itself, and those consumed through cannabis.

Cannabis is consistently recommended against in the 16 and under population, as this population is in a stage of rapid growth and development and is thought to be more sensitive to potential harm from chemicals of all kinds.[citation needed]

Some studies have shown neuroprotective effects from cannabis, and this demonstrates its complicated action. It is also interesting to note that the brain has receptors specifically for cannabinoids. [40]

Research between the use of cannabis and mental illness has also brought significant results. Cannabis use is generally higher among sufferers of schizophrenia, but the causality between the two has not been established.[41][42] Another study concluded that sustained early-adolescent cannabis use among genetically predisposed individuals has been associated with a variety of mental illness outcomes; ranging from psychotic episodes to clinical schizophrenia.[43][44]



Since the 20th century, most countries have enacted laws against the cultivation, use, possession, or transfer of cannabis for recreational use. Naturally, these laws impact 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, and others where laws against its use, possession, or sale are not enforced. Many jurisdictions have also decriminalized possession of small quantities of cannabis, so that it is punished by confiscation or a fine, rather than imprisonment. By effectively removing the user from the criminal justice system, decriminalization focuses more on those who traffic and sell the drug on the black market. However, this does not solve the problem of how a user will obtain the "legal amount" of cannabis, since buying or growing cannabis is still illegal. Increasingly, many jurisdictions also permit cannabis use for medicinal purposes. Some countries allow the sale through drug companies.[citation needed] However, simple possession can carry long jail sentences in some countries, particularly in East Asia, where the sale of cannabis may lead to a sentence of life in prison or even execution.

U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics PSA used in the late 1930s and 1940s.
U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics PSA used in the late 1930s and 1940s.

Recent history

Under the name cannabis, 19th century medical practitioners sold the drug, (usually as a tincture) popularizing the word amongst English-speakers. It was rumoured to have been used to treat Queen Victoria's menstrual pains as her personal physician, Sir John Russell Reynolds, was a staunch supporter of the benefits of cannabis.[45] Cannabis was also openly available from shops in the US. By the end of the 19th century, its medicinal use began to fall as other drugs like aspirin took over its use as a pain reliever.

In 1894, the Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission commissioned by the UK Secretary of State and the government of India, was instrumental in the decision not to criminalize the drug in those countries. The Report, which at over 500 pages remains one of the most complete collections of information on cannabis in existence, shows the stark contrast in the way that the American and British governments went about deciding whether to criminalize cannabis.[46]

The name marijuana (Mexican Spanish marihuana, mariguana) is associated almost exclusively with the plant's psychoactive use. The term is now well known in English largely due to the efforts of American drug prohibitionists during the 1920s and 1930s, which deliberately used a Mexican name for cannabis in order to turn the populace against the idea that it should be legal, playing upon attitudes towards race. (See 1937 Marihuana Tax Act). Those who demonized the drug by calling it marihuana omitted the fact that the "deadly marihuana" was identical to cannabis indica, which had at the time a reputation for pharmaceutical safety.[47]

Although cannabis has been used for its psychoactive effects since ancient times, it first became well known in the United States during the jazz music scene of the late 1920s and 1930s. Louis Armstrong became a prominent and life-long devotee. It was popular in the blues scene as well, and eventually became a prominent part of 1960s counterculture.


Decriminalization and legalization

A large scale anti-prohibition demonstration in Vancouver, Canada, on April 20, 2005.
A large scale anti-prohibition demonstration in Vancouver, Canada, on April 20, 2005.

In recent decades, a movement to decriminalize cannabis has arisen in several countries. 12 US states have passed by majority vote of the citizenry, laws allowing some degree of medical use, while a further 6 states have taken steps to decriminalize it to some degree. This movement seeks to make simple possession of cannabis punishable by only confiscation or a fine, rather than prison. In the past several years, the movement has started to have some successes. These include Denver, Colorado legalizing possession of up to an ounce of cannabis,[48] a broad coalition of political parties in Amsterdam, Netherlands unveiling a pilot program to allow farmers to grow it legally,[49] and Massachusetts voting in favor of a bill to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis.[50]

In Alaska, cannabis was decided legal for in-home, personal use under the Ravin vs. State ruling in 1975. This ruling allowed up to four ounces of cannabis for these purposes. A 1991 voter ballot initiative recriminalized marijuana possession, but when that law was eventually challenged in 2004, the Alaska court's upheld the Ravin ruling, saying the popular vote could not trump the state constitution.In response to former Governor Frank Murkowski's successive attempt to re-criminalize cannabis, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state. On July 17, 2006, Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins awarded the Case Summary judgement to the ACLU. In her ruling, she said "No specific argument has been advanced in this case that possession of more than 1 ounce of cannabis, even within the privacy of the home, is constitutionally protected conduct under Ravin or that any plaintiff or ACLU of Alaska member actually possesses more than 1 ounce of cannabis in their homes." This does not mean that the legal possession threshold has been reduced to one ounce, as this was a mere case summary review filed by the ACLU, not a full case. Reinforcing Ravin, Collins wrote "A lower court cannot reverse the State Supreme Court's 1975 decision in Ravin v. State" and "Unless and until the Supreme Court directs otherwise, Ravin is the law in this state and this court is duty bound to follow that law". The law regarding possession of cannabis has not changed in Alaska, and the Supreme Court has declined to review the case, therefore the law still stands at 4 ounces.[citation needed]

In 2002, Nevada voters defeated a ballot question which would legalize up to 3 ounces for adults 21 and older by 39% to 61%. In 2006, a similar Nevada ballot initiative, which would have legalized and regulated the cultivation, distribution, and possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older, was defeated by 44% to 56%.

In 2001 in the United Kingdom, it was announced that cannabis would become a Class C drug, rather than a Class B, this change took effect on January 29th, 2004. Since then there has recently been some controversy amongst UK politicians about the message this sends out, with some calling for its reclassification to Class B.[51]

The Government of Mexico voted to legalize the possession of cannabis under 5 grams on April 28, 2006.[52] However, as of May 3, 2006, Mexican President Vicente Fox has said that he will not sign this proposed law until Congress removes the parts that would decriminalize the possession of small quantities of drugs[53] and vetoed the bill on May 4, 2006,[54] sparking broad controversy over the bill.[55][56][57] In the early summer of 2006 Fox and the Mexican congress came to an agreement and legalized possession of small amounts (and also measured amounts of other drugs). On July 17th, 2006, Italian Social Solidarity Minister Paolo Ferrero, speaking of the urgent need for depenalising the consumption of light drugs, said that "a joint is less harmful than a litre of wine."[58] In South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, two plants both less than 6 feet tall are allowed for personal use.[citation needed]


Legality in Hong Kong

Cannabis is regulated under section 9 of Hong Kong's Chapter 134 Dangerous Drugs Ordinance. Cultivation and dealing with cannabis plant is illegal and a fine of $100,000 and to imprisonment for 15 years can be laid by the court. Anyone who supplies the substance without prescription can be fined $10,000(HKD). The penalty for trafficking or manufacturing the substance is a $5,000,000 (HKD) fine and life imprisonment. Possession of the substance for consumption without license from the Department of Health is illegal with a $1,000,000 (HKD) fine and/or 7 years of jail time.


Legality in the United States

The United States federal government has illegalized the sale, transport, and possession of cannabis, commonly known in the US as "marijuana" by drug enforcement, since 1937. Federal law in the United States preempts conflicting state and local laws. Nevertheless, some states and local governments have established laws attempting to decriminalize cannabis. Other state and local governments ask law enforcement agencies to limit enforcement of drug laws with respect to cannabis. In the 2006 election, amendment 44 of Colorado making it legal to possess less than 1 ounce of marijuana, failed and the election was 40-60, yet it is still a misdemeanor to possess up to one half pound, and is punished mainly by fines unless sale is established.

The National Center for Natural Products Research in Oxford, Mississippi is the only facility in the United States that is federally licensed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to cultivate cannabis for scientific research. The Center is part of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi.



Cannabis has a number of synonyms, including:


See also





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  3. Flashbacks, Tim Leary
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  5. "Soma". The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances. (1998). Little, Brown and Company. Retrieved on 2006-12-30.
  6. Abu Usaybia, Uyunu al-Anba fi Tabaquat al-Atibba, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965.
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  8. People's Daily Online (English). Lab work to identify 2,800-year-old mummy of shaman.
  9. 9.0 9.1 K.R. Muller, U. Schneider, H. Kolbe, H.M. Emrich (1999). "Treatment of Tourette's Syndrome With Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol". American Journal of Psychiatry 156 (3).
  10. K.R. Muller, U. Schneider, A. Koblenz, M. Jöbges, H. Kolbe, T. Daldrup, H.M. Emrich (2002). "Treatment of Tourette's Syndrome with Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): A Randomized Crossover Trial". Pharmacopsychiatry 35 (2).
  11. R. Sandyk, G. Awerbuch (1988). "Marijuana and Tourette's Syndrome". Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 8 (6).
  12. "["" "Marijuana may block Alzheimer's"]". Retrieved on 2006-12-31.
  13. "Cannabis compound benefits blood vessels", Nature (magazine), 2005-04-04.
  14. "Spray alternative to pot on the market in Canada", 2005-06-23.
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Cannabis resources (edit)
Use: recreational drug, pharmaceutical drug, spiritual, culture, 420, health issues, legal issues, cultivation
Preparations: bhang, hashish, kief, shake, Hash Oil
Smoking: blunt, bong, chillum, dugout, hookah, gravity bong, shotgun, smoking pipe, spliff, steamroller, rolling papers
Vaporization: vaporizer, knifers
Food: cannabutter, dope cake, Ganja goo ball, hash cookie, Green Dragon, Leary biscuit, cannabis brownie, Cannabis tea

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