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Drug Information



What is cannabis?

Cannabis comes from the cannabis plant, and is found in most parts of the world. There are three main varieties: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Ruderalis. Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in the UK. Cannabis resin (solids) is a brown block of compressed resin. Herbal cannabis comes from the leaves and flowers of a mature female plant.

How is it used?

Cannabis can be smoked in a variety of ways for example, mixed with tobacco in a ‘joint’ or ‘spliff’, pipes, bongs and bottle bags. Cannabis can also be eaten, very often in cakes or biscuits. When eaten the experience may be more intense but the user has less control, compared to smoking when small amounts are being inhaled over a period of time and you can stop at any time.

What are the effects?

The effects of cannabis will depend on the amount and strength of cannabis used, the user’s mood, expectations, environment and whether they are regular cannabis users.

At lower levels cannabis can make people feel calm and relaxed, or in some instances sleepy. At higher levels or if stronger cannabis is being used people can experience episodes of hilarity, talkativeness and a greater appreciation of things such as sound and colour. As a result of its hallucinogenic properties (tetrahydro-cannabinols) it is possible that visual distortions may occur. Cannabis has a higher tar content than tobacco and burns at a higher temperature. Occasional use of cannabis is rarely associated with significant problems in otherwise healthy individuals. Some evidence suggests that cannabis can trigger underlying mental health problems, or exacerbate symptoms of existing mental health problems. Some individuals become psychologically dependent on cannabis but it is unlikely a physical dependence would form, although if smoked with tobacco individuals may become dependent on the tobacco.

Legal Status

Cannabis is a Class B drug.

  • The maximum penalty for possessing a Class B drug is five years in prison and/or unlimited fine.
  • The maximum penalty for supplying a Class B drug is 14 years imprisonment and/or unlimited fine.


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