What is Cannabis?

  • Cannabis is the most widely used drug in Britain although the numbers using it are falling.
  • Cannabis usually comes as either the dried heads or flowers of the plant (weed,grass or skunk) or as a solid block or lump of compressed resin.
  • Cannabis plants contain over 60 chemicals, but the amount of each varies.
  • The one that gets people stoned is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • The amount of THC in cannabis varies widely, from 2% (low grade resin) to 20% (skunk) or even 50% (oil). However the strenth of each type varies, it is difficult to know how strong each particluar type is.

What are the effects of Cannabis?

  • Usually people feel relaxed. They may become giggly and talk a lot or be quieter and more chilled.
  • Can make people feel clumsy and slow to react.
  • Increases pulse rate, decreases blood pressure, increases appetite and often results in bloodshot eyes and occasional dizziness.
  • Cannabis affects how your brain works it can make you feel very anxious and worried , it can make your memory worse and make you become lazy and cant be bothered to do anything.
  • Regular users can develop a habit and find it hard to stop or cut down. They may come to rely on it to get them through the day. Smoking cannabis may also increase the chance that users develop a cigarette habit.

What the Law Says...

  • Cannabis is a class B drug, it is illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell.
  • If the police catch you with cannabis they will always take some action. it could be a warning, reprimand, formal caution a fixed penalty or arrest with a possible conviction. A conviction for drug offences can have serious implications it can prevent you from entering certain countries like the United States and also limits what types of jobs you can apply for.
  • There is no set amount of cannabis that the law considers as being for your own use. If you have a large amount the law might see this as posession with intent to supply rather than posession for personal use. Posession with intent is a trafficking offence and usually results in stiffer penalties. Supply offences usually recieve stiffer penalties.

Some people think cannabis should be made legal, and in some countries across the world changes have been made to the laws around cannabis, mainly for people who want to use it for medical reasons.  At this time in the UK cannabis remains an illegal drug, and anyone caught using cannabis is likely to be arrested. 

Is it addictive?

Across the country the numbers of people needing help to stop smoking cannabis is increasing.  Most people who start smoking never expect to get addicted to it, or to find it so hard to stop.  Sometimes people just dont realise how bad things have got until they try to stop, or something bad happens (like they get caught). 

If you smoke cannabis, ask yourself the following questions? 

In the past 3 months:

  • Have you thought your use was out of control?
  • Have you worried about not being able to get it/pay for it?
  • Has it got you in trouble at school or home?
  • Did you wish you could stop?

If the answer to any of these questions is 'a lot' or 'sometimes' it might be a good time to think about cutting back or making changes.  Check out our top tips to cut down.  If you're struggling or want more support contact YPDAAT and arrange to meet with a worker to look at how we can help you. 

Tips to stay safe and reduce the risks

The only way to avoid the risks from cannabis use is to choose not to use it.  But if people do, here are some tips that may help reduce the harm it causes:

  • Don't hold smoke in your lungs or inhale to deeply - you will not get more stoned by doing this,but you will get more tar and other chemicals in your lungs, increasing the risk of problems with your respiratory system.
  • Think about your roach - A cigarette filter allows more tar & less THC through. Card with ink on can give off dangerous fumes. Plain white card rolled up loosely is a safer way of using a roach.
  • Don't use too many papers, or bongs made of plastic bottles, rubber pipes, aluminium (cans etc) or tinfoil -   Using too many papers increases the amount of burnt paper you inhale. All the others can give off toxic fumes when they get hot.
  • Make sure your stuff is clean! Dirty bongs & pipes, and even shared joints can hold nasty germs, and if your mate has a cut or sore you could even catch infections.
  • Look after your lungs! - Bongs that cool the smoke before you inhale force it deeper into your lungs increasing the amount of tar and chemicals in your lungs. They don't get you more stoned than joints as your still smoking the same amount of cannabis. Joints contain tobacco you are also at risk of smoking related diseases.
  • Don't eat it - Eating cannabis can be more risky as it can take longer for you to feel the effects, and it is harder to control the dose.
  • Think about how it makes you feel If you start to get paranoid or anxious when smoking, or it starts to affect you in ways that you dont like, it may be a good time to think about cutting down or quitting.
  • Try to avoid buying more than you need - It may be easier, but its likely that you will smoke it, and you will end up using more.
  • Don't mix it with other substances -  Mixing any substances is risky, but mixing cannabis with alcohol and other substances puts more strain on your body which can leave you feeling unwell.