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Cannabis

Published on March 8, 2024 at 8:00 / Updated on March 26, 2024 at 8:00

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Synonyms

The most common synonyms are:

  • Marijuana: Grass, Herb, Mary Jane, Marihuana, Pot, Green, Weed
  • Hashish: Brown, Hash, Resin
  • Hashish oil: Liquid hash, Oil, Marijuana oil, Honey oil, Weed oil

Other street names include: Acapulco gold, Ace, Bat, Bhang, Boom, Hemp, Indian hemp, Colombian, Doobie, Dope (cannabis), Ganja, Hydro, Jamaican, Jive (stick), Joint, Maui wowie, Mexican, Panama gold, Panama red, Pot, Chronic, Ragweed, Reefer, Sativa, Sinse, California sinsemilla, Spliff, Thai stick.

Cannabis can be combined with a variety of other psychoactive drugs, including:

  • Cannabis and heroin: Atom bomb or A-bomb
  • Cannabis and opium: OJ (opium joint)
  • Cannabis and PCP: Supergrass or Killer weed
Classification

Dissociative hallucinogen:

  • Causes users to see, hear or feel things that do not exist.
  • Feeling of dissociation.
Visual description
  • Hemp:variety of cannabis that has a very low level of THC and that is mainly used for textiles.
  • Hashish:made from the resin of the cannabis plant that is collected, compressed and to which is added powder from dried plants. It may be blonde, brown or black. In its pure state, it is a pasty substance that is soft and supple. Generally, hashish that is hard and brittle contains more impurities.
  • Hashish oil (cannabis oil):resin (thick, viscous liquid) extracted from the plant, is golden to dark brown in colour.
  • Marijuana:usually refers to the flowering buds and dried leaves of the Cannabis sativa plant, but the stems and seeds can also be consumed (female plants have a higher concentration of THC and are therefore more sought out). It varies from greenish-grey to brown.
Mechanism of action
  • THC is a highly liposoluble molecule (has the property to penetrate the brain) that acts on the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors (psychoactive effect).
Routes of administration

Inhaled:

  • Smoked:
    • Hand rolled marijuana cigarettes (joints, spliffs)
    • Hashish or hashish oil
    • In pipes or water pipes (bongs)
    • Rolled in cigar leaves (blunts)
  • Vaporized
    • Heated with a vaporizer (specifically created device)

Ingested:

  • Oral use (swallowed):
    • Cannabinoids added to food (cookies, gumdrops, beverages)
    • Cooking oil or powder to add to food
    • Capsules
  • Sublingual use (under the tongue):
    • Oil and tincture
    • Oral spray
    • Oral strip

Effects sought out by the user

  • Analgesia
  • Creativity
  • Decreased nausea and increased appetite
  • Euphoria, joy
  • Heightened sensory perceptions
  • Reduced stress
  • Relaxation
  • Stimulation (physical or social)

Common toxic effects

  • Altered state of consciousness
  • Anxiety
  • Change in vision (heightened perception of colours and lights)
  • Confusion
  • Distorted time perception
  • Dry mouth*
  • Fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, lethargy
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypotension
  • Impaired language and motor function, loss of coordination*
  • Increased appetite*
  • Increased heart rate
  • Red eyes*
  • Short-term memory loss
* Visible signs and symptoms used to detect drug use.

Overdose effects

  • Chest pain
  • Delirium
  • High heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychotic episode (loss of contact with reality)
  • Respiratory depression
  • Severe anxiety

Effects associated with chronic use

  • Cancer-causing effects (many of the substances in marijuana smoke are related to tobacco smoke and some of them are even more concentrated)
  • Increased heart rate, which can put significant stress on the heart
  • Memory loss and impaired comprehension
  • Precipitation or exacerbation of latent or existing mental disorders (e.g., psychosis, schizophrenia)
  • Respiratory problems (bronchitis, respiratory tract infections)

Tolerance (need to increase the dose to feel the same effect)

Yes. Users develop tolerance to the effects that are sought and to many systemic effects (confusion, drowsiness, red eyes).

Addiction

Yes, psychological. People who use strong doses of cannabis on a regular basis can also develop physical dependence.

Withdrawal

Symptoms last about 2 to 4 days and up to 6 weeks if usage has been long-term. The severity of symptoms is related to frequency and duration of use and to individual sensitivity to THC. Potential effects include:

  • Anhedonia (loss of enjoyment)
  • Fatigue and abnormal drowsiness
  • Headache and general malaise
  • Impaired thought process and speech
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Slight loss of appetite
Onset and duration of action
Route of administrationOnset of actionPeakDuration of action
InhaledA few seconds to 5 minutes15 to 30 minutesUp to 6 hours, sometimes more
Sublingual15 to 30 minutes, sometimes up to 3 hours1 h 30 to 2 hoursUp to 6 hours, sometimes more
Swallowed30 to 60 minutes, sometimes up to 3 hours1 h 30 to 3 hoursUp to 12 hours, sometimes more

Screening

  • Urine: can be detected for several weeks after use.

Intoxication management

  • Symptom-based management of intoxication.
  • There is no known antidote or any specific treatment although cannabidiol may counteract some of the effects of THC.
Many different street drugs are sold under the same name. Furthermore, nothing guarantees the quantity, purity or even the content of a street drug in spite of the fact that it may, in some cases, look like medication.

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