Cannabis, also known as marijuana among other names,[n 1] is a
psychoactive drug from the
Cannabis plant intended for medical or
recreational use. The main psychoactive part of cannabis
is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); one of 483 known compounds in the
plant, including at least 65 other cannabinoids.
be used by smoking, vaporizing, within food, or as an extract.
Cannabis is often used for its mental and physical effects, such as a
"high" or "stoned" feeling, a general change in perception, euphoria
(heightened mood), and an increase in appetite. Onset of
effects is within minutes when smoked, and about 30 to 60 minutes when
cooked and eaten. They last for between two and six hours.
Short-term side effects may include a decrease in short-term memory,
dry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia
or anxiety. Long-term side effects may include addiction,
decreased mental ability in those who started as teenagers, and
behavioral problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during
pregnancy. Studies have found a strong relation between cannabis
use and the risk of psychosis, though the cause-and-effect
relationship is debated.
Cannabis is mostly used recreationally or as a medicinal drug,
although it may also be used for religious or spiritual purposes. In
2013, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis (2.7% to 4.9%
of the global population between the ages of 15 and 65). In 2015,
43% of Americans had ever used cannabis, which increased to 51% in
2016. About 12% have used it in the past year, and 7.3% have used
it in the past month. This makes it the most commonly used illegal
drug both in the world and the United States.
The earliest recorded uses date from the 3rd millennium BC. Since
the early 20th century, cannabis has been subject to legal
restrictions. The possession, use, and sale of cannabis is illegal in
most countries of the world.
Medical cannabis refers to the
physician-recommended use of cannabis, which is taking place in
Canada, Belgium, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and 23
Cannabis use started to become popular in the U.S. in
the 1970s. Support for legalization has increased in the United
States and several U.S. states have legalized recreational or medical
1.4 Available forms
2 Adverse effects
2.7 Chronic use
2.8 Tolerance and withdrawal
Motor vehicle crashes
4.1 Mechanism of action
5.1 Detection in body fluids
6 Varieties and strains
6.1 Psychoactive ingredients
7.5 Hash oil
7.7 Medical use
9 Society and culture
9.1 Legal status
9.2.1 United States
9.4 Gateway drug
13 External links
Main short-term physical effects of cannabis
Main article: Medical cannabis
Medical cannabis, or medical marijuana, can refer to the use of
cannabis and its cannabinoids to treat disease or improve symptoms;
however, there is no single agreed-upon definition. The
rigorous scientific study of cannabis as a medicine has been hampered
by production restrictions and other federal regulations. There is
limited evidence suggesting cannabis can be used to reduce nausea and
vomiting during chemotherapy, to improve appetite in people with
HIV/AIDS, and to treat chronic pain and muscle spasms. Its
use for other medical applications is insufficient for conclusions
about safety or efficacy.
Short-term use increases the risk of both minor and major adverse
effects. Common side effects include dizziness, feeling tired,
vomiting, and hallucinations.
Long-term effects of cannabis
Long-term effects of cannabis are
not clear. Concerns include memory and cognition problems, risk of
addiction, schizophrenia in young people, and the risk of children
taking it by accident.
Main article: Effects of cannabis
A woman smoking a marijuana "joint".
Cannabis has psychoactive and physiological effects when consumed.
The immediate desired effects from consuming cannabis include
relaxation and euphoria (the "high" or "stoned" feeling), a general
alteration of conscious perception, increased awareness of sensation,
increased libido and distortions in the perception of time and
space. At higher doses, effects can include altered body image,
auditory and/or visual illusions, pseudohallucinations and ataxia from
selective impairment of polysynaptic reflexes. In some cases, cannabis
can lead to dissociative states such as depersonalization and
Some immediate undesired side effects include a decrease in short-term
memory, dry mouth, impaired motor skills and reddening of the
eyes. Aside from a subjective change in perception and mood, the
most common short-term physical and neurological effects include
increased heart rate, increased appetite and consumption of food,
lowered blood pressure, impairment of short-term and working
memory, psychomotor coordination, and concentration. Some
users may experience an episode of acute psychosis, which usually
abates after six hours, but in rare instances, heavy users may find
the symptoms continuing for many days. A reduced quality of life
is associated with heavy cannabis use, although the relationship is
inconsistent and weaker than for tobacco and other substances. It
is unclear, however, if the relationship is cause and effect.
Entheogenic use of cannabis
Process of making bhang in a Sikh village in Punjab, India. On the
festival of colors called Holi, it is a customary addition to some
Cannabis has held sacred status in several religions. It has been used
in an entheogenic context – a chemical substance used in a
religious, shamanic, or spiritual context - in
India and Nepal
Vedic period dating back to approximately 1500 BCE, but
perhaps as far back as 2000 BCE. There are several references in Greek
mythology to a powerful drug that eliminated anguish and sorrow.
Herodotus wrote about early ceremonial practices by the Scythians,
thought to have occurred from the 5th to 2nd century BCE. In modern
culture the spiritual use of cannabis has been spread by the disciples
Rastafari movement who use cannabis as a sacrament and as an
aid to meditation. The earliest known reports regarding the sacred
status of cannabis in
Nepal come from the Atharva Veda
estimated to have been written sometime around 2000–1400 BCE.
A joint prior to rolling, with a paper handmade filter on the left
Cannabis is consumed in many different ways:
smoking, which typically involves burning and inhaling vaporized
cannabinoids ("smoke") from small pipes, bongs (portable versions of
hookahs with a water chamber), paper-wrapped joints or
tobacco-leaf-wrapped blunts, and other items.
vaporizer, which heats any form of cannabis to 165–190 °C
(329–374 °F), causing the active ingredients to evaporate
into a vapor without burning the plant material (the boiling point of
THC is 157 °C (315 °F) at 760 mmHg pressure).
cannabis tea, which contains relatively small concentrations of THC
because THC is an oil (lipophilic) and is only slightly water-soluble
(with a solubility of 2.8 mg per liter).
Cannabis tea is made
by first adding a saturated fat to hot water (e.g. cream or any milk
except skim) with a small amount of cannabis.
edibles, where cannabis is added as an ingredient to one of a variety
of foods, including butter and baked goods. In
India it is commonly
made into a beverage, bhang.
See also: Long-term effects of cannabis
Cannabis in pregnancy
Addiction experts in psychiatry, chemistry, pharmacology, forensic
science, epidemiology, and the police and legal services engaged in
delphic analysis regarding 20 popular recreational drugs.
ranked 11th in dependence, 17th in physical harm, and 10th in social
According to the United States Department of Health and Human
Services, there were 455,000 emergency room visits associated with
cannabis use in 2011. These statistics include visits in which the
patient was treated for a condition induced by or related to recent
cannabis use. The drug use must be "implicated" in the emergency
department visit, but does not need to be the direct cause of the
visit. Most of the illicit drug emergency room visits involved
multiple drugs. In 129,000 cases, cannabis was the only implicated
Heavy, long term exposure to marijuana may have biologically-based
physical, mental, behavioral and social health consequences and may be
"associated with diseases of the liver (particularly with co-existing
hepatitis C), lungs, heart, and vasculature". It is recommended
that cannabis use be stopped before and during pregnancy as it can
result in negative outcomes for both the mother and baby.
However, maternal use of marijuana during pregnancy does not appear to
be associated with low birth weight or early delivery after
controlling for tobacco use and other confounding factors. A 2014
review found that while cannabis use may be less harmful than alcohol
use, the recommendation to substitute it for problematic drinking is
premature without further study. Other side effects include
cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.
Acute effects may include anxiety and panic, impaired attention, and
memory (while intoxicated), an increased risk of psychotic symptoms,
and possibly an increased risk of accidents if a person drives a motor
vehicle while intoxicated. Short-term cannabis intoxication can
hinder the mental processes of organizing and collecting thoughts.
This condition is known as temporal disintegration. Psychotic
episodes are well-documented and typically resolve within minutes or
hours. There have been few reports of symptoms lasting longer.
Studies have found that cannabis use during adolescence is associated
with impairments in memory that persist beyond short-term
A limited number of studies have examined the effects of cannabis
smoking on the respiratory system. Chronic heavy marijuana smoking
is associated with coughing, production of sputum, wheezing, and other
symptoms of chronic bronchitis. The available evidence does not
support a causal relationship between cannabis use and chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease. Short-term use of cannabis is
associated with bronchodilation.
Cannabis smoke contains thousands of organic and inorganic chemical
compounds. This tar is chemically similar to that found in tobacco
smoke, and over fifty known carcinogens have been identified in
cannabis smoke, including; nitrosamines, reactive aldehydes, and
polycylic hydrocarbons, including benz[a]pyrene.
Cannabis smoke is
also inhaled more deeply than is tobacco smoke. As of 2015, there
is no consensus regarding whether cannabis smoking is associated with
an increased risk of cancer. Light and moderate use of cannabis is
not believed to increase risk of lung or upper airway cancer. Evidence
for causing these cancers is mixed concerning heavy, long-term use. In
general there are far lower risks of pulmonary complications for
regular cannabis smokers when compared with those of tobacco. A
2015 review found an association between cannabis use and the
development of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs), particularly
non-seminoma TGCTs. A 2015 analysis of six studies found little
evidence that long-term or regular cannabis smoking was associated
with lung cancer risk, though it could not rule out whether an
association with heavy smoking exists. Another 2015 meta-analysis
found no association between lifetime cannabis use and risk of head or
neck cancer. Combustion products are not present when using a
vaporizer, consuming THC in pill form, or consuming cannabis
There is concern that cannabis may contribute to cardiovascular
disease. As of 2018 evidence of an association is unclear.
Cannabis is believed to be an aggravating factor in rare cases of
arteritis, a serious condition that in some cases leads to amputation.
Because 97% of case-reports also smoked tobacco, a formal association
with cannabis could not be made. If cannabis arteritis turns out to be
a distinct clinical entity, it might be the consequence of
vasoconstrictor activity observed from delta-8-THC and
delta-9-THC. Other serious cardiovascular events including
myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden cardiac death, and
cardiomyopathy have been reported to be temporally associated with
cannabis use. Research in these events is complicated because cannabis
is often used in conjunction with tobacco, and drugs such as alcohol
and cocaine. These putative effects can be taken in context of a
wide range of cardiovascular phenomena regulated by the
endocannabinoid system and an overall role of cannabis in causing
decreased peripheral resistance and increased cardiac output, which
potentially could pose a threat to those with cardiovascular
disease. There is some evidence from case reports that cannabis
use may provoke fatal cardiovascular events in young people who have
not been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Smoking cannabis
has also been shown to increase the risk of myocardial infarction by
4.8 times for the 60 minutes after consumption.
Anatomy and brain chemistry
Cannabis use is associated with neuroanatomic alterations in brain
regions rich in cannabinoid receptors, such as the hippocampus,
prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and cerebellum. The same review found
that greater dose of marijuana and earlier age at onset of use were
also associated with such alterations. It is unclear, however,
whether these alterations are caused by marijuana use or were present
before such use. A 2010 review found resting blood flow to be
lower globally and in prefrontal areas of the brain in cannabis users,
when compared to non-users. It was also shown that giving THC or
cannabis correlated with increased bloodflow in these areas, and
facilitated activation of the anterior cingulate cortex and frontal
cortex when participants were presented with assignments demanding use
of cognitive capacity. Both reviews noted that some of the
studies that they examined had methodological limitations, for example
small sample sizes or not distinguishing adequately between cannabis
and alcohol consumption.
Cannabis users appear to have
smaller hippocampi than nonusers; this finding is based on a series of
small studies with inconsistent designs, so it is uncertain. A
2016 meta-analysis found that regular cannabis users tended to have
cue reactivity, the intensity of which ranged from moderate to very
There is limited evidence that chronic cannabis use can reduce levels
of glutamate metabolites in the human brain.
A 2012 meta-analysis found that the effects of cannabis use on
neurocognitive functions were "limited to the first 25 days of
abstinence" and that there was no evidence that such use had
long-lasting effects, while a 2011 review found that cannabis use
impaired cognitive functions on several levels, ranging from basic
coordination to executive function tasks.
Cannabis and psychosis
Epidemiological studies have found a strong correlation between
cannabis use and the risk of psychosis, and found the risk is higher
with strains higher in THC. However, not all researchers consider
this association to reflect a cause-and-effect relationship between
cannabis use and psychosis.
It is not clear whether cannabis use affects the rate of
suicide. It may increase the risk of depression, but further
research is needed in this area.
Effects of chronic use may include bronchitis, a cannabis dependence
syndrome, and subtle impairments of attention and memory. These
deficits persist while chronically intoxicated. There is little
evidence that cognitive impairments persist in adult abstinent
cannabis users. Compared to non-smokers, people who smoked
cannabis regularly in adolescence exhibit reduced connectivity in
specific brain regions associated with memory, learning, alertness,
and executive function. A study has suggested that sustained
heavy, daily, adolescent onset cannabis use over decades is associated
with a decline in IQ by age 38. No effects were found in those who
initiated cannabis use later, or in those who ceased use earlier in
Tolerance and withdrawal
Cannabis usually causes no tolerance or withdrawal symptoms except in
heavy users. In a survey of heavy users, 42.4% experienced withdrawal
symptoms when they tried to quit marijuana, such as craving,
irritability, boredom, anxiety and sleep disturbances. About 9%
of those who experiment with marijuana eventually become dependent.
The rate goes up to 1 in 6 among those who begin use as adolescents,
and one-quarter to one-half of those who use it daily according to a
NIDA review. A 2013 review estimates daily use is associated with
a 10-20% rate of dependence. The highest risk of cannabis
dependence is found in those with a history of poor academic
achievement, deviant behavior in childhood and adolescence,
rebelliousness, poor parental relationships, or a parental history of
drug and alcohol problems.
Cannabis withdrawal is less severe
than withdrawal from alcohol.
Motor vehicle crashes
Marijuana is the most common illegal drug reported in motor vehicle
accidents. A 2012 meta-analysis found that cannabis use was
associated with an increased risk of being involved in a motor vehicle
crash. A 2016 review also found a statistically significant
increase in crash risk associated with marijuana use, but noted that
this risk was "of low to medium magnitude." The increase in risk
of motor vehicle crash for cannabis use is between 2 and 3 times
relative to baseline, whereas that for comparable doses of alcohol is
between 6 and 15 times.
THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant, has
low toxicity. The dose of THC needed to kill 50% of tested rodents is
Cannabis has not been reported to cause fatal overdose
Mechanism of action
Effects of cannabis
Effects of cannabis § Biochemical mechanisms in the
The high lipid-solubility of cannabinoids results in their persisting
in the body for long periods of time. Even after a single
administration of THC, detectable levels of THC can be found in the
body for weeks or longer (depending on the amount administered and the
sensitivity of the assessment method). A number of investigators
have suggested that this is an important factor in marijuana's
effects, perhaps because cannabinoids may accumulate in the body,
particularly in the lipid membranes of neurons.
Not until the end of the 20th century was the specific mechanism of
action of THC at the neuronal level studied.
Researchers have subsequently confirmed that THC exerts its most
prominent effects via its actions on two types of cannabinoid
CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor, both of which are G
protein-coupled receptors. The
CB1 receptor is found primarily in
the brain as well as in some peripheral tissues, and the CB2 receptor
is found primarily in peripheral tissues, but is also expressed in
neuroglial cells. THC appears to alter mood and cognition through
its agonist actions on the CB1 receptors, which inhibit a secondary
messenger system (adenylate cyclase) in a dose-dependent manner. These
actions can be blocked by the selective
CB1 receptor antagonist
rimonabant (SR141716), which has been shown in clinical trials to be
an effective treatment for smoking cessation, weight loss, and as a
means of controlling or reducing metabolic syndrome risk factors.
However, due to the dysphoric effect of
CB1 receptor antagonists, this
drug is often discontinued due to these side effects.
CB1 receptor activation, THC indirectly increases dopamine release
and produces psychotropic effects.
Cannabidiol (CBD) also acts as
an allosteric modulator of the μ- and δ-opioid receptors. THC
also potentiates the effects of the glycine receptors. It is
unknown if or how these actions contribute to the effects of
Detection in body fluids
Cannabis drug testing
THC and its major (inactive) metabolite, THC-COOH, can be measured in
blood, urine, hair, oral fluid or sweat using chromatographic
techniques as part of a drug use testing program or a forensic
investigation of a traffic or other criminal offense. The
concentrations obtained from such analyses can often be helpful in
distinguishing active use from passive exposure, elapsed time since
use, and extent or duration of use. These tests cannot, however,
distinguish authorized cannabis smoking for medical purposes from
unauthorized recreational smoking. Commercial cannabinoid
immunoassays, often employed as the initial screening method when
testing physiological specimens for marijuana presence, have different
degrees of cross-reactivity with THC and its metabolites. Urine
contains predominantly THC-COOH, while hair, oral fluid and sweat
contain primarily THC. Blood may contain both substances, with
the relative amounts dependent on the recency and extent of
Duquenois–Levine test is commonly used as a screening test in
the field, but it cannot definitively confirm the presence of
cannabis, as a large range of substances have been shown to give false
positives. Despite this, it is common in the United
States for prosecutors to seek plea bargains on the basis of positive
D–L tests, claiming them to be conclusive, or even to seek
conviction without the use of gas chromatography confirmation, which
can only be done in the lab. In 2011, researchers at John Jay
College of Criminal Justice reported that dietary zinc supplements can
mask the presence of THC and other drugs in urine. However, a
2013 study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah School
of Medicine refute the possibility of self-administered zinc producing
false-negative urine drug tests.
Varieties and strains
Types of cannabis
CBD is a
5-HT1A receptor agonist, which may also contribute to an
anxiolytic effect. This likely means the high concentrations of
CBD found in
Cannabis indica mitigate the anxiogenic effect of THC
significantly. The effects of sativa are well known for their
cerebral high, hence its daytime use as medical cannabis, while indica
is well known for its sedative effects and preferred night time use as
According to the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),
"the amount of THC present in a cannabis sample is generally used as a
measure of cannabis potency." The three main forms of cannabis
products are the flower, resin (hashish), and oil (hash oil). The
UNODC states that cannabis often contains 5% THC content, resin "can
contain up to 20% THC content", and that "
Cannabis oil may contain
more than 60% THC content."
A 2012 review found that the THC content in marijuana had increased
worldwide from 1970 to 2009. It is unclear, however, whether the
increase in THC content has caused people to consume more THC or if
users adjust based on the potency of the cannabis. It is likely that
the higher THC content allows people to ingest less tar. At the same
time, CBD levels in seized samples have lowered, in part because of
the desire to produce higher THC levels and because more illegal
growers cultivate indoors using artificial lights. This helps avoid
detection but reduces the CBD production of the plant.
Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre
(NCPIC) states that the buds (flowers) of the female cannabis plant
contain the highest concentration of THC, followed by the leaves. The
stalks and seeds have "much lower THC levels". The UN states that
leaves can contain ten times less THC than the buds, and the stalks
one hundred times less THC.
After revisions to cannabis rescheduling in the UK, the government
moved cannabis back from a class C to a class B drug. A purported
reason was the appearance of high potency cannabis. They believe skunk
accounts for between 70 and 80% of samples seized by police
(despite the fact that skunk can sometimes be incorrectly mistaken for
all types of herbal cannabis). Extracts such as hashish and
hash oil typically contain more THC than high potency cannabis
Dried flower buds
Infusion (dairy butter)
Marijuana or marihuana (herbal cannabis), consists of the dried
flowers and subtending leaves and stems of the female Cannabis
plant. This is the most widely consumed form,
containing 3% to 20% THC, with reports of up-to 33% THC.
This is the stock material from which all other preparations are
derived. Although herbal cannabis and industrial hemp derive from the
same species and contain the psychoactive component (THC), they are
distinct strains with unique biochemical compositions and uses. Hemp
has lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of CBD,
which decreases the psychoactive effects
Main article: Kief
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. The word "kif"
derives from colloquial Arabic كيف kēf/kīf, meaning
Main article: Hashish
Hashish (also spelled hasheesh, hashisha, or simply hash) is a
concentrated resin cake or ball produced from pressed kief, the
detached trichomes and fine material that falls off cannabis flowers
and leaves. or from scraping the resin from the surface of the
plants and rolling it into balls. It varies in color from black to
golden brown depending upon purity and variety of cultivar it was
obtained from. It can be consumed orally or smoked, and is also
vaporised, or 'vaped'. The term "rosin hash" refers to a high
quality solventless product obtained through heat and pressure.
Tincture of cannabis
Cannabinoids can be extracted from cannabis plant matter using
high-proof spirits (often grain alcohol) to create a tincture, often
referred to as "green dragon".
Nabiximols is a branded product
name from a tincture manufacturing pharmaceutical company.
Main article: Hash oil
Hash oil is a resinous matrix of cannabinoids obtained from the
Cannabis plant by solvent extraction, formed into a hardened or
Hash oil can be the most potent of the main
cannabis products because of its high level of psychoactive compound
per its volume, which can vary depending on the plant's mix of
essential oils and psychoactive compounds.
supercritical carbon dioxide hash oil have become popular in recent
There are many varieties of cannabis infusions owing to the variety of
non-volatile solvents used. The plant material is mixed with the
solvent and then pressed and filtered to express the oils of the plant
into the solvent. Examples of solvents used in this process are cocoa
butter, dairy butter, cooking oil, glycerine, and skin moisturizers.
Depending on the solvent, these may be used in cannabis foods or
Further information: Medical cannabis
Medical marijuana refers to the use of the
Cannabis plant as a
physician-recommended herbal therapy as well as synthetic THC and
cannabinoids. So far, the medical use of cannabis is legal only in a
limited number of territories, including Canada, Belgium, Australia,
the Netherlands, Spain, and many U.S. states. This usage generally
requires a prescription, and distribution is usually done within a
framework defined by local laws. There is evidence supporting the use
of cannabis or its derivatives in the treatment of
chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, neuropathic pain, and
multiple sclerosis. Lower levels of evidence support its use for AIDS
wasting syndrome, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, and glaucoma.
History of cannabis
History of cannabis and Timeline of cannabis
Cannabis sativa from Vienna Dioscurides, AD 512
Cannabis is indigenous to Central and South Asia, and its use for
fabric and rope dates back to the
Neolithic age in China and
Japan. It is unclear when cannabis first became known for
its psychoactive properties; some scholars suggest that the ancient
Indian drug soma, mentioned in the Vedas, was cannabis, although this
theory is disputed.
Cannabis was also known to the ancient Assyrians, who discovered its
psychoactive properties through the Aryans. Using it in some
religious ceremonies, they called it qunubu (meaning "way to produce
smoke"), a probable origin of the modern word "cannabis". The
Aryans also introduced cannabis to the Scythians,
Dacians, whose shamans (the kapnobatai—"those who walk on
smoke/clouds") burned cannabis flowers to induce trance.
Cannabis has an ancient history of ritual use and is found in
pharmacological cults around the world.
Hemp seeds discovered by
archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices like
eating by the
Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century BC,
confirming previous historical reports by Herodotus. It was used
by Muslims in various
Sufi orders as early as the
Mamluk period, for
example by the Qalandars. Smoking pipes uncovered in Ethiopia and
carbon-dated to around c. AD 1320 were found to have traces of
Following an 1836–1840 travel in North Africa and the Middle East,
Jacques-Joseph Moreau wrote on the psychological
effects of cannabis use; Moreau was a member of Paris' Club des
Hashischins (founded in 1844). In 1842, Irish
physician William Brooke O'Shaughnessy, who had studied the drug while
working as a medical officer in Bengal with the East
brought a quantity of cannabis with him on his return to Britain,
provoking renewed interest in the West. Examples of classic
literature of the period featuring cannabis include Les paradis
artificiels (1860) by
Charles Baudelaire and
The Hasheesh Eater
The Hasheesh Eater (1857)
by Fitz Hugh Ludlow.
Cannabis indica fluid extract, American Druggists Syndicate, pre-1937
Cannabis was criminalized in various countries beginning in the 19th
century. The British colonies of Mauritius banned cannabis in 1840
over concerns on its effect on Indian indentured workers; the
same occurred in British Singapore in 1870. In the United States,
the first restrictions on sale of cannabis came in 1906 (in District
of Columbia). It was outlawed in
Jamaica (then a British colony)
in 1913, in
South Africa in 1922, and in the United Kingdom and New
Zealand in the 1920s.
Canada criminalized cannabis in The Opium
and Narcotic Drug Act, 1923, before any reports of the use of the
drug in Canada.
In 1925 a compromise was made at an international conference in The
Hague about the
International Opium Convention that banned exportation
of "Indian hemp" to countries that had prohibited its use, and
requiring importing countries to issue certificates approving the
importation and stating that the shipment was required "exclusively
for medical or scientific purposes". It also required parties to
"exercise an effective control of such a nature as to prevent the
illicit international traffic in Indian hemp and especially in the
resin". In the United States in 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act
was passed, and prohibited the production of hemp in addition to
In 1972, the Dutch government divided drugs into more- and
less-dangerous categories, with cannabis being in the lesser category.
Accordingly, possession of 30 grams or less was made a
Cannabis has been available for recreational use in
coffee shops since 1976.
Cannabis products are only sold openly
in certain local "coffeeshops" and possession of up to 5 grams for
personal use is decriminalised, however: the police may still
confiscate it, which often happens in car checks near the border.
Other types of sales and transportation are not permitted, although
the general approach toward cannabis was lenient even before official
In Uruguay, President
Jose Mujica signed legislation to legalize
recreational cannabis in December 2013, making
Uruguay the first
country in the modern era to legalize cannabis. In August 2014,
Uruguay legalized growing up to six plants at home, as well as the
formation of growing clubs, and a state-controlled marijuana
dispensary regime. Following Canada's 2015 election of Justin Trudeau
and formation of a Liberal government, in 2017 the House of Commons
passed a bill to legalize cannabis on 1 July 2018.
The United Nations' World Drug Report stated that cannabis "was the
world's most widely produced, trafficked, and consumed drug in the
world in 2010", and estimated between 128 million and 238 million
users globally in 2015.
Society and culture
Global estimates of illegal drug users in 2014
(in millions of users)
Main article: Legality of cannabis
Prohibition of drugs
Prohibition of drugs and Drug liberalization
Cannabis propaganda sheet from 1935
Since the beginning of the 20th century, most countries have enacted
laws against the cultivation, possession or transfer of cannabis.
These laws have impacted adversely on the cannabis plant's cultivation
for non-recreational purposes, but there are many regions where, under
certain circumstances, handling of cannabis is legal or licensed. Many
jurisdictions have lessened the penalties for possession of small
quantities of cannabis so that it is punished by confiscation and
sometimes a fine, rather than imprisonment, focusing more on those who
traffic the drug on the black market.
In some areas where cannabis use had been historically tolerated, new
restrictions were instituted, such as the closing of cannabis coffee
shops near the borders of the Netherlands, and closing of coffee
shops near secondary schools in the Netherlands. In Copenhagen,
Denmark in 2014, mayor
Frank Jensen discussed possibilities for the
city to legalize cannabis production and commerce.
Some jurisdictions use free voluntary treatment programs and/or
mandatory treatment programs for frequent known users. Simple
possession can carry long prison terms in some countries, particularly
in East Asia, where the sale of cannabis may lead to a sentence of
life in prison or even execution. Political parties, non-profit
organizations, and causes based on the legalization of medical
cannabis and/or legalizing the plant entirely (with some restrictions)
have emerged in such countries as China and Thailand.
In December 2012, the U.S. state of Washington became the first state
to officially legalize cannabis in a state law (Washington Initiative
502) (but still illegal by federal law), with the state of
Colorado following close behind (
Colorado Amendment 64). On
January 1, 2013, the first marijuana "club" for private marijuana
smoking (no buying or selling, however) was allowed for the first time
in Colorado. The California Supreme Court decided in May 2013
that local governments can ban medical marijuana dispensaries despite
a state law in California that permits the use of cannabis for medical
purposes. At least 180 cities across California have enacted bans in
In December 2013,
Uruguay became the first country to legalize
growing, sale and use of cannabis. After a long delay in
implementing the retail component of the law, in 2017 sixteen
pharmacies were authorized to sell cannabis commercially.
In November 2015,
Uttarakhand became the first state of
legalize the cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes.
On October 17, 2015, Australian health minister Sussan Ley presented a
new law that will allow the cultivation of cannabis for scientific
research and medical trials on patients. In December 2015, it was
reported that the Canadian government had committed to legalizing
cannabis, but at that time no timeline for the legalization was set
As drugs has increasingly come to be seen as a health issue instead of
criminal behavior, marijuana has also been legalized or decriminalized
in: Czech Republic, Colombia, Ecuador,
Mexico, Portugal, and Canada.
In 2013, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis (2.7% to
4.9% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 65).
Cannabis is by far the most widely used illicit substance.
Between 1973 and 1978, eleven states decriminalized marijuana. In
2001 Nevada reduced marijuana possession to a misdemeanor and since
2012, several other states have decriminalized and even legalized
In 2015, almost half of the people in the United States had tried
marijuana, 12% had used it in the past year, and 7.3% had used it in
the past month. In 2014, daily marijuana use amongst US college
students had reached its highest level since records began in 1980,
rising from 3.5% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2014 and had surpassed daily
In the US, men are over twice as likely to use marijuana as women and
18-29 year-olds are six times more likely to use as over
65-year-olds. In 2015, a record 44% of the US population has tried
marijuana in their lifetime, an increase from 38% in 2013 and 33% in
Marijuana use in the United States is three times above the global
average, but in line with other Western democracies. 44% of American
12th graders have tried the drug at least once, and the typical age of
first-use is 16, similar to the typical age of first-use for alcohol
but lower than the first-use age for other illicit drugs.
Woman selling cannabis and bhang in Guwahati, Assam, India
It is often claimed by growers and breeders of herbal cannabis that
advances in breeding and cultivation techniques have increased the
potency of cannabis since the late 1960s and early '70s when THC was
first discovered and understood. However, potent seedless cannabis
such as "Thai sticks" were already available at that time. Sinsemilla
(Spanish for "without seed") is the dried, seedless inflorescences of
female cannabis plants. Because THC production drops off once
pollination occurs, the male plants (which produce little THC
themselves) are eliminated before they shed pollen to prevent
pollination. Advanced cultivation techniques such as hydroponics,
cloning, high-intensity artificial lighting, and the sea of green
method are frequently employed as a response (in part) to prohibition
enforcement efforts that make outdoor cultivation more risky. It is
often cited that the average levels of THC in cannabis sold in the
United States rose dramatically between the 1970s and 2000, but such
statements are likely skewed because undue weight is given to much
more expensive and potent, but less prevalent samples.
"Skunk" refers to several named strains of potent cannabis, grown
through selective breeding and sometimes hydroponics. It is a
Cannabis sativa and C. indica (although other strains
of this mix exist in abundance). Skunk cannabis potency ranges usually
from 6% to 15% and rarely as high as 20%. The average THC level in
coffee shops in the
Netherlands is about 18–19%.
The price or street value of cannabis varies widely depending on
geographic area and potency.
In the United States, cannabis is overall the number four value crop,
and is number one or two in many states including California, New York
and Florida, averaging $3,000 per pound ($6,600/kg). Some
believe it generates an estimated $36 billion market. Some
have argued that this estimate is methodologically flawed, and makes
unrealistic assumptions about the level of marijuana consumption.
Other estimates claiming to correct for this flaw claim that the
market is between $2.1-$4.3 billion. The United Nations Office on
Drugs and Crime claims in its 2008 World Drug Report that typical U.S.
retail prices are $10–15 per gram (approximately $280–420 per
ounce). Street prices in North America are known to range from about
$40–$400 per ounce ($1.4–$14/g), depending on quality.
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports
that typical retail prices in Europe for cannabis varies from €2 to
€20 per gram, with a majority of European countries reporting prices
in the range €4–10.
Main article: Gateway drug theory
The Gateway Hypothesis states that cannabis use increases the
probability of trying "harder" drugs. The hypothesis has been hotly
debated as it is regarded by some as the primary rationale for the
United States prohibition on cannabis use. A Pew Research
Center poll found that political opposition to marijuana use was
significantly associated with concerns about health effects and
whether legalization would increase marijuana use by children.
Some studies state that while there is no proof for the gateway
hypothesis, young cannabis users should still be considered as a
risk group for intervention programs. Other findings indicate
that hard drug users are likely to be poly-drug users, and that
interventions must address the use of multiple drugs instead of a
single hard drug. Almost two-thirds of the poly drug users in the
"2009/10 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey" used cannabis.
The gateway effect may appear due to social factors involved in using
any illegal drug. Because of the illegal status of cannabis, its
consumers are likely to find themselves in situations allowing them to
acquaint with individuals using or selling other illegal
drugs. Utilizing this argument some studies have shown that
alcohol and tobacco may additionally be regarded as gateway
drugs; however, a more parsimonious explanation could be that
cannabis is simply more readily available (and at an earlier age) than
illegal hard drugs. In turn alcohol and tobacco are easier to obtain
at an earlier point than is cannabis (though the reverse may be true
in some areas), thus leading to the "gateway sequence" in those
individuals since they are most likely to experiment with any drug
An alternative to the gateway hypothesis is the common liability to
addiction (CLA) theory. It states that some individuals are, for
various reasons, willing to try multiple recreational substances. The
"gateway" drugs are merely those that are (usually) available at an
earlier age than the harder drugs. Researchers have noted in an
extensive review, Vanyukov et al., that it is dangerous to present the
sequence of events described in gateway "theory" in causative terms as
this hinders both research and intervention.
Medical cannabis § Research
Cannabis research is challenging since the plant is illegal in most
countries. Research-grade samples of the drug
are difficult to obtain for research purposes, unless granted under
authority of national governments.
There are also other difficulties in researching the effects of
cannabis. Many people who smoke cannabis also smoke tobacco. This
causes confounding factors, where questions arise as to whether the
tobacco, the cannabis, or both that have caused a cancer. Another
difficulty researchers have is in recruiting people who smoke cannabis
into studies. Because cannabis is an illegal drug in many countries,
people may be reluctant to take part in research, and if they do agree
to take part, they may not say how much cannabis they actually
A 2015 review found that the use of high CBD-to-THC strains of
cannabis showed significantly fewer positive symptoms such as
delusions and hallucinations, better cognitive function and both lower
risk for developing psychosis, as well as a later age of onset of the
illness, compared to cannabis with low CBD-to-THC ratios. A 2014
Cochrane review found that research was insufficient to determine the
safety and efficacy to using cannabis to treat schizophrenia or
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Pharmacy and Pharmacology portal
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Etymology (cannabis, marijuana)
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Kyllo v. United States
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Leary v. United States
Active metabolites: 8,11-DiOH-THC
Arachidonoyl ethanolamide (AEA; anandamide)
2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether
2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether (2-AGE; noladin ether)
N-Arachidonoyl dopamine (NADA)
2-Arachidonoyl lysophosphatidylinositol (2-ALPI)
Arachidonoyl serotonin (AA-5-HT)
O-Arachidonoyl ethanolamine (O-AEA; virodhamine)
Levonantradol (CP 50,5561)
AB-FUBINACA 2-fluorobenzyl isomer
Allosteric CBR ligands
Cannabinoid receptor modulators (cannabinoids by
List of: AM cannabinoids
Designer drugs § Synthetic cannabimimetics
Cannabinoid receptor modulators
Agonists (abridged; see here for more): 2-AG
2-AGE (noladin ether)
Antibodies: Brizantin (Бризантин)
2-AGE (noladin ether)
Agonists: Abnormal cannabidiol
Agonists: 2-AGE (noladin ether)
Inhibitors: 4-Nonylphenylboronic acid
Inhibitors: Betulinic acid
Others: 2-PG (directly potentiates activity of 2-AG at CB1 receptor)
ARN-272 (FAAH-like anandamide transporter inhibitor)
Cannabinoids (cannabinoids by structure)
Analgesics (N02A, N02B)
Codeine# (+paracetamol, +aspirin)
Hydrocodone (+paracetamol, +ibuprofen, +aspirin)
Oxycodone (+paracetamol, +aspirin, +ibuprofen, +naloxone, +naltrexone)
Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid)# (+paracetamol/caffeine)
Wintergreen (methyl salicylate)
Local anesthetics (e.g., cocaine, lidocaine)
Tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline#)
Tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline#)
‡Withdrawn from market
§Never to phase III
Opioid receptor agonists (opioids) (e.g., morphine, heroin,
hydrocodone, oxycodone, opium, kratom)
α2δ subunit-containing voltage-dependent calcium channels blockers
(gabapentinoids) (e.g., gabapentin, pregabalin, phenibut)
AMPA receptor antagonists (e.g., perampanel)
CB1 receptor agonists (cannabinoids) (e.g., THC, cannabis)
Dopamine receptor agonists (e.g., levodopa)
Dopamine releasing agents (e.g., amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA,
Dopamine reuptake inhibitors (e.g., cocaine, methylphenidate)
GABAA receptor positive allosteric modulators (e.g., barbiturates,
benzodiazepines, carbamates, ethanol (alcohol) (alcoholic drink),
inhalants, nonbenzodiazepines, quinazolinones)
GHB (sodium oxybate) and analogues
Glucocorticoids (corticosteroids) (e.g., dexamethasone, prednisone)
nACh receptor agonists (e.g., nicotine, tobacco, arecoline, areca nut)
Nitric oxide prodrugs (e.g., alkyl nitrites (poppers))
NMDA receptor antagonists (e.g., DXM, ketamine, methoxetamine, nitrous
oxide, phencyclidine, inhalants)
Orexin receptor antagonists (e.g., suvorexant)
See also: Recreational drug use
Psychoactive substance-related disorder (F10–F19, 291–292;
Substance intoxication / Drug overdose
Substance abuse /
Substance use disorder
Substance use disorder / Substance-related disorders
Physical dependence /
Psychological dependence / Substance dependence
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
Fetal alcohol syndrome
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)
Alcoholic liver disease
Alcohol flush reaction
Alcoholism (alcohol use disorder)
Effect of caffeine on memory
Caffeine-induced sleep disorder
Effects of cannabis
Long-term effects of cannabis
Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder
Opioid use disorder
Benzodiazepine use disorder
Inhalant abuse: Toluene toxicity
Poly drug use
Combined drug intoxication
Recreational drug use
nail polish remover
Psilocybin / Psilocin
Atropine and Scopolamine
Legal history of cannabis in the United States
Legality of cannabis
Marijuana Policy Project
Cannabis and religion
Counterculture of the 1960s
Party and play
Poly drug use
Religion and drugs
Sex and drugs
Coca production in Colombia
Opium production in Afghanistan
Rolling meth lab
Illegal drug trade
Date rape drug
Effects of cannabis
Opioid replacement therapy
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
Long-term effects of cannabis
of tobacco or other substances
1961 Narcotic Drugs
1988 Drug Trafficking
Council of the European Union decisions on designer drugs
Drug Policy Alliance
Law Enforcement Action Partnership
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Transform Drug Policy Foundation
Just Say No
Office of National Drug Control Policy
School district drug policies
Arguments for and against drug prohibition
Capital punishment for drug trafficking
Politics of drug abuse
War on Drugs
Mexican Drug War
Philippine Drug War
Anabolic steroid legality
Psilocybin mushrooms legality
BNF: cb119422012 (data)