Drugs Cannabis

Drugs Cannabis Information

These details are taken from Terrence Higgins Trust website www.drugfucked.tht.org.uk

For further information please call THT Direct on 0845 12 21 200 or visit www.tht.org.uk


What’s the score?

Cannabis is also known as: marijuana (‘Mary Jane’), dope, pot, spliff, hash(ish), weed, puff, grass, herb, draw, wacky backy, smoke, ganja, hemp - or skunk (a much stronger variety). 

It’s a psychoactive (mood changing) drug made from the buds/flowers of the cannabis plant. It usually comes as a block of soft, greenish/brown resin or can look like dried herbs (then it’s known as weed, marijuana or grass). THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main active chemical in the drug that causes the high.

Taking cannabis

Cannabis resin is usually mixed with tobacco and smoked in joints. It can be smoked using a bong (a kind of water pipe), eaten (eg. baked in cakes) or drunk in warm drinks.

Highs and lows

For up to 4 hours after taking cannabis it can make you feel chilled out, sociable, talkative and giggly. You might feel it gives you new insights into life and help you experience touch, sounds (e.g. music) and colours differently. It makes people feel hungry, sleepy or light-headed (the feeling of being high or stoned) – and it can dull pain.

It can leave you feeling ‘woolly headed’, with short term memory loss, confusion, distorted sense of space and time, co-ordination difficulties, and slower reflexes (making driving dangerous). Higher doses can make you feel sick, anxious, paranoid, panicky or you might hallucinate.

Sex on cannabis

Cannabis can make you feel horny, increase your sense of touch and lower your inhibitions. But with too much its tranquilising effects get in the way. Orgasms may seem weaker but more sensual and felt not just in the dick. There can be a stronger sense of connection to who you’re with, with sex being more ‘touchy feely’.

But the drug can also make people feel withdrawn and less interested in sex. If you smoke it with tobacco, you have the same long term higher risk of erection problems that cigarette smokers have.

Find out more about drugs and sex here.

A long term relationship?

You can become dependent on cannabis. It can leave some people with a poor memory and less able to concentrate or stay motivated (the classic ‘dope head’).

Research is looking at the link between cannabis and mental illness. The drug seems able to trigger this (including schizophrenia) in a small number of people, especially those who already have depression or anxiety or who are vulnerable to mental health problems (but they usually won’t know they’re vulnerable).

Mental illness seems more likely if you use cannabis when a teenager, if you use it a lot or you use the stronger types.

Cannabis with other drugs

Tobacco – smoking cannabis with tobacco has a high risk of addiction to nicotine and smoking related illness (cancer, heart disease and breathing problems). People smoking both cigarettes and cannabis take in very high levels of cancer-causing tar.

HIV drugs – no known dangerous interactions.

Useful to know

Cannabis smoke contains more harmful substances than cigarette smoke.

Smoking it with tobacco has the same health risks of cigarettes (cancer, chest and breathing problems, etc.). The risk may be higher because cannabis smokers breathe in deeper and for longer.

Eating it gets round these drawbacks but it’s harder to control the dose and the effects can be stronger than you might want.

Using bongs is more harmful than joints because you breathe in more drug and smoke.

The law

Cannabis is not legal but it has been reclassified from Class B to Class C. Possession can mean up to 2 years in prison and/or unlimited fine. Intending to supply (including giving to mates) can mean up to 14 years in prison and/or unlimited fine.

You’ll be arrested (and maybe face criminal charges) if you’re under 18 or smoking openly in public or if you’ve been caught with the drug before. If over 18 and caught for the first time you’re less likely to be arrested (unless in a public place, especially near children, e.g. schools).

Driving under the influence of cannabis can lead to the same penalties as drink driving. Growing cannabis plants is illegal; so is letting people smoke it in a place you’re responsible for, like your home. 

Read our page on Drugs and the police for advice if you’re arrested.

More info