Written by: Jenny Smith
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in Britain and grows naturally in the form of a plant. Other names that it goes under include hash, pot, dope, grass, weed, skunk, sensi, resin, puff, marijuana and ganga. It can come in the form of dried leaves, buds, oil or resin. The main active chemical in it is tetrhydrocannabinol or THC for short and this is responsible for some of the effects that people report from taking the drug which include feeling very relaxed and happy. THC can also make you hallucinate which means it can alter your senses so that you may see or hear things in a different way to usual.
Is it safe?
There are lots and lots of myths about cannabis, both in its favour and against it. Lots of people say that it is completely safe because it is natural, others say that using cannabis will ruin your life and will definitely lead you into using other more harmful drugs. There is a big difference between the risks of using a drug occasionally and lightly compared to using it regularly in large amounts, but ultimately there is no absolutely risk free drug use.
How does it affect you?
There are no simple answers to how cannabis will affect an individual. All drugs are capable of having good and bad effects, even prescribed medication from a doctor comes with a list of potential side effects.¬† Cannabis can have short and long terms psychological and physical effects. It can affect how your brain works and it can make you feel anxious or even paranoid. It can also affect motivation, memory and concentration.
How is it taken?
The most common way for cannabis to be taken is for it to be smoked, often along with tobacco. It can also be eaten on it’s own or put into other food – we’ve all heard of ‘spacecake’ in those cafe’s in Holland haven’t we? When smoked it has been linked to lung cancer and tuberculosis and in some people it has been linked to long term serious mental health problems.
Risks of using cannabis
The level of risk increases with greater and more frequent drug use, it also goes up with stronger varieties of the plant. Younger people are more at risk because their brains are still developing and the environment that you take the drug in also impacts on the experience that they will have. If they feel secure and relaxed in where they are it is more likely that they will have a more relaxed experience.
The law and cannabis
Legally it is against the law to take or sell cannabis. It is called a class B drug which means that even giving it away to friends would be seen as dealing it and risks a prison sentence. Allowing people to use cannabis in your home is illegal and even if it’s not the homeowner taking the drug, they are still responsible for it in the eyes of the law.
With so many unknown factors it is hard to remain open minded and trusting in relation to your children trying drugs. The most important thing is to maintain open communication so that they feel able to talk with you about anything. Try and have conversations over time so that you can build information up gradually before there is a crisis situation. Have a look at some websites together like Talk to Frank http://www.talktofrank.com/drug/cannabis and let them read the risks and advice for themselves.