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Drugs of Abuse

Drug Type: Cannabis

Cannabis (both depressant and hallucinogen)

Other Names: Marijuana (refers to leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant), weed, bud, sinse, pot, grass, crippy, thai stick, pillows (refers to cannabis packaged in tiny baggies), reefer, mary jane, spliff, blunt, joint, roach, stick, regs, ganja, hash, sinsemilla

What it looks like: Dull green or brownish in color and leafy. A bag of cannabis usually has leaves, seeds and twigs in it. The cannabis plant has an odd number of serrated leaves (3,5,7,9,11). Hashish is a concentrated form of cannabis extracted from the plant resin, which is dark brown in color. Hashish is pressed into balls, cakes or cookies. Hashish is dark brown in color. Hashish oil is an amber to dark-brown liquid, taken from the leaves and flowers of the plant.

How it is used:

  • Cannabis is smoked and sometimes ingested.
  • Hashish is smoked.
  • Drops of hashish oil are put on a cannabis cigarette and smoked.

Effect of the drug: The effects of the drug are felt within ten to thirty minutes and may last several hours, depending on the amount used.

The effects include:

  • Euphoria
  • Mild hallucinations
  • Increased relaxation
  • Disorientation
  • Increased appetite
  • Lowered inhibitions

The potency of cannabis depends on the THC level (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) one of 450 to 500 chemicals found in the plant. The THC level of hashish and hashish oil are much higher than that of cannabis, resulting in a more powerful high. Hydroponically grown (grown without soil, homegrown) cannabis can yield an extremely high THC content.

Negative Effects/Overdose Effects: In large doses, cannabis causes fatigue, "burnout," paranoia or psychosis. Long-term effects of cannabis use upon the body include cell abnormalities, impaired speech, loss of memory, lack of mental focus, inability to concentrate, mood swings, blurred vision, infertility, sinusitis, bronchitis or lung cancer, pregnancy complications and panic disorder. A breastfeeding mother can pass THC to her baby through breast milk.

What to look for:

  • Odor (burning cannabis smells similar to burning rope)
  • Distortions in perception
  • Forgetfulness
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Little interest in school, work, family
  • Little interest in friends who are drug-free. Look for a change in friends.
  • No motivation/fatigue
  • Loud talking, laughter as initial high is being felt by user
  • Drowsiness or lack of focus as effects of the "high" wear off
  • Look for potted plants placed directly under lights or a chem-light. Cannabis plants are usually kept in odd locations such as the closet.

Paraphernalia Associated with Drug Use:

  • Bongs (a water pipe for smoking cannabis)
  • Pipes-glass or wooden
  • Roach clip (holds the cannabis cigarette, "joint" or "blunt" firmly in place)
  • Rolling papers (for rolling a cannabis cigarette)
  • Bags and baggies
  • Scales
  • Cigar tobacco in the trash or in the cigar box-this means the user was fashioning a "blunt" where most of the tobacco is removed from the cigar, and is replaced with cannabis. The burning of the cigar tobacco masks the smell of the burning cannabis.
  • Incense, candles, car air fresheners-used to mask the smell of burnt cannabis
  • Chem-lights are used indoors for growing cannabis plants

Potential for Abuse: Cannabis is an easily accessible and widely abused drug. It provides a long-lasting, and relatively cheap high, with the average dose costing between five and ten dollars. Its mild, depressant effects appeal to every age group and socio-economic group. Users become psychologically addicted and are blissfully unaware of the damaging effects of cannabis use on the body, which will be manifested over time. The effect of cannabis smoke on the lungs is far worse than that of cigarettes. In addition, cannabis is a gateway drug, meaning most people that try it move on to more dangerous, illicit drugs like cocaine and designer drugs. This may be due in part to the fact that the body easily builds tolerance to cannabis, and to continue to become high, a user has to smoke significantly more cannabis.

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