Cannabis, also known as marijuana refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug. The word marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish marihuana. The typical herbal form of cannabis consists of the flowers and subtending leaves and stalks of mature pistillate of female plants. The resinous form of the drug is known as hashish (or merely as 'hash').
Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit mind-altering drug in the world. It is classed as 'a minor hallucinogen with depressant qualities'. When smoked or eaten, it has mild mind-expanding, painkilling, and intoxicating effects. It is a popular recreational drug around the world, only behind alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.
- Primary psychoactive effects include a state of relaxation, and to a lesser degree, euphoria from its main psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol.
- Secondary psychoactive effects, such as a facility for philosophical thinking; introspection and metacognition have been reported, amongst cases of anxiety and paranoia.
- Finally, the tertiary psychoactive effects of the drug cannabis, can include an increase in heart rate and hunger.
Cannabis, also known as hemp or marijuana, has been used by humans for fiber, medicine, and as a psychoactive for at least 4,500 years. Its biological name is Cannabis sativa, with a subspecies, Cannabis sativa indica, used most often for recreational or medicinal purposes. The earliest milestone in the history of cannabis are charred cannabis seeds dated to 2500 BCE found on a ritual brazier in Romania. In 2008, nearly two pounds of cannabis was found buried in the tomb of a Gushi shaman who lived about 700 BCE in the Gobi Desert, northern China. Genetic analysis of the plants found they were cultivated rather than from the wild.
The most famous early users in the history of cannabis were the Hindus of India and Nepal. Soma, a drug mentioned in early Hindu texts as an intoxicating hallucinogen, may have been a reference to cannabis. Spreading with the Indo-Aryan culture from India outwards, cannabis was introduced to the Assyrians (Iraq/Syria), Scythians (Eurasian steppe), and Thracians/Dacians (Greece and the Balkans) in the 3rd and 2nd milennia BCE. The shamans of the latter culture were called kapnobatai — "those who walk on smoke/clouds." They used burning cannabis flowers to induce a state of trance. This practice is believed to have been inherited by Greek oracles and worshippers, including members of the cult of Dionysus.
Early users in the history of cannabis would have also been attracted to the plant by its positive medical properties, including the alleviation of pain, nausea, Depression, and as an agent for encouraging the appetite. Modern science has uncovered additional benefits from cannabis, including the inhibition of Cancer cell growth and the reduction of memory impairment in the elderly. On the negative side, cannabis use has been found to correlate with anxiety, but there is debate as to whether its role is causative or merely correlative. There are harmful chemicals in marijuana smoke, so patients consuming the drug for medical purposes often do so orally or by using a vaporizer.
After cannabis was used freely for thousands of years, a major change in the history of cannabis came in the early 20th century, when prohibitionists in the United States succeeded in getting the government to criminalize the drug, beginning with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. This was followed up by subsequent legislation in 1951 and 1971 (the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1971). The leading figure in the criminalization of cannabis was conservative Harry Jacob Anslinger, who linked the drug to moral decline and even spontaneous murder.
From the 1970s to the present, the legality of cannabis has been a contentious issue between those arguing for the repeal of prohibition and those who wish to uphold it. Medical marijuana is allowed in several US states, in defiance of federal anti-marijuana laws. Extensive debates are ongoing at the state and federal levels.
The cannabis plant has been used for thousands of years as a herbal medication and intoxicant. Of the two main species, Cannabis Indica is the strongest, and is used to make hash and stronger grasses, like skunk. Indica grows from 3 to 6 feet high with fat dark green leaves, purplish buds and a distinct stinky smell, hence the name skunk.
Cannabis Sativa, also known as hemp, is traditionally used to make rope and fibers. The plants are very tall with thin light green leaves, reddish buds, and a sweet fruity smell. When smoked, it creates a more alert, cerebral high, over Indica's sleepy groggy effects. Many modern strains are crossbreeds of the two species.
The main active ingredient is delta-9-THC or just THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) for short. The more THC in the product, the more potent it is. Several factors determine how much THC will be in a particular crop of weed, including:
The terms cannabis or marijuana generally refer to the dried flowers and subtending leaves and stems of the female cannabis plant. They range in colour from grey-green to greenish brown. It is smoked in either hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or in water pipes (bongs), often mixed with tobacco. Marijuana is also taken in the form of a tea.
Kief is a powder, rich in trichomes, which can be sifted from the leaves and flowers of cannabis plants and either consumed in powder form or compressed to produce cakes of hashish.
Hashish (also spelled hasheesh, hashisha, or simply hash) is a concentrated resin produced from the flowers of the female cannabis plant. Hash can often be more potent than marijuana and can be smoked or chewed. It varies in color from black to golden brown depending upon purity. It can be added to tobacco and smoked or baked and eaten in hash cookies.
Hashish is traditionally stronger (up to 26 percent) but on the street it is often adulterated, usually with paper pulp or caryophyllene, a constituent of cloves. Depending on the purity of the substance, hash can range in appearance from black to a golden color.
Most hash in the UK is of the weak, adulterated 'soapbar' variety. This type of hash can be contaminated by a variety of other substances that are not designed to make the user feel "high." Hash seized and analyzed by authorities has contained glue, engine oil and soil. Animal feces have also added to hash as an extra ingredient.
 Hash oil
Thick oily liquid extracted from hashish, ranging in colour from light brown to nearly black. There are a number of ways hash oil is used, including for example spreading it on a cigarette and smoking it.
Hash oil is made by taking Mary Jane or hash and dissolving it in a solvent. Butane, alcohol and acetone may be used for this purpose. Any plant material that remains in the liquid solution is removed. The mixture is left until the solvent evaporates.
The substance that is left is a thick, sticky oil. It ranges in color from white, which is the purest form, to a green, red or brown substance. The level of THC varies, depending on the grade from 5 percent to approximately 35 percent.
If the hash oil comes into contact with clothing, the item will be ruined. When hash oil is spilled on the skin, it will remain in place until a solvent, such as denatured alcohol, is used to remove it.
 Residue (resin)
Because of THC's adhesive properties, a sticky residue, most commonly known as "resin", builds up inside utensils used to smoke cannabis. It has tar-like properties but still contains THC as well as other cannabinoids. This buildup has some of the psychoactive properties of cannabis but is more difficult to smoke without discomfort caused to the throat and lungs. This tar may also contain CBN, which is a breakdown product of THC. Cannabis users typically only smoke residue when cannabis is unavailable. Glass pipes may be water-steamed at a low temperature prior to scraping in order to make the residue easier to remove. Alcohol is an effective solvent for cleaning residue from paraphernalia.
 Cannabis Ingredients
The active ingredient in cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol, also known as THC. THC is the primary chemical compound which produces the 'high'.
THC is found in varying concentrations throughout the plant:
- Leaves contain between 0.5 – 4% THC
- Flowers (heads) contain between 1.5 – 16% THC
- Hash contains between 2 – 20% THC
 How Cannabis is Absorbed
Once in the bloodstream, THC travels to the brain and attaches itself to specific receptors.
When smoked THC is absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs. Peak effects are experienced in approximately 15 minutes, with intoxication lasting between 2-4 hours.
When eaten, THC enters the bloodstream through the stomach walls and intestines, taking 1-3 hours to be absorbed. While the effects last longer in comparison to smoking, they are typically not as strong.
 Medical Benefits of Smoking Weed
In the United States, Mary Jane has been classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This designation indicates marijuana falls within the following specifications:
- It has no currently accepted medical use.
- The drug has a high potential for abuse.
- There are safety issues for the person who chooses to use the substance.
Some people claim that using this substance helps to relieve symptoms of severe illnesses. Examples of medical conditions these claims relate to include:
People who use weed for medical purposes can still be arrested and prosecuted. Many of the legal actions are conducted under state or local laws. Patients using marijuana for medical purposes can also be prosecuted under federal law.
In Canada, people living with "grave and debilitating illnesses" can apply to the federal government for permission to use marijuana to relieve their symptoms. If the application is approved, the individual will usually be allowed to use between 1-3 grams per day. The weed is supplied to approved individuals on a monthly basis by a government agency. If a person wishes to grow his or her own weed for medical purposes, they must get approval before being allowed to buy seeds to grow the product for their own use.
USA has many states that have legalized cannabis for medical use.
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
Besides the US, many other countries have also legalized cannabis for medical use.
- The Netherlands
 Truth serum
Besides used for medical reasons, cannabis was once used as a truth serum by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a US government intelligence agency formed during World War II. In the early 1940s, it was the most effective truth drug developed at the OSS labs at St. Elizabeths Hospital; it caused a subject "to be loquacious and free in his impartation of information."
In May 1943, Major George Hunter White, head of OSS counter-intelligence operations in the US, arranged a meeting with Augusto Del Gracio, an enforcer for gangster Lucky Luciano. Del Gracio was given cigarettes spiked with THC concentrate from cannabis, and subsequently talked openly about Luciano's heroin operation.