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Back in 2002 the British Lung foundation (BLF) published a report called “A smoking gun” which made serious claims about the health risks of smoking cannabis. Later research has failed to support many of the more extreme claims made by the BLF, but unlike the enthusiasm shown for reporting the “Smoking Gun’s” claims, the later research was all but ignored in the British media.
However, UKCIA would welcome a factual information campaign about the possible dangers of using cannabis and we highlight some of the points made in the report in our “Risks” section, especially the added risk posed by the use of tobacco.
UKCIA doesn’t claim that cannabis is harmless, but because of prohibition scare after scare claiming serious dangers have been made, most if not all of which have been shown to be false. It’s been like shouting “wolf”, many people simply don’t believe government warnings anymore. It’s also worth pointing out that real world studies don’t back the alarmist claims
Also because of prohibition safer ways of smoking, such as pipes or vapes are themselves dangerous things to have because of the risk of arrest. Their use is hardly encouraged in government “educational” material such as Talk to Frank.. UKCIA is running a campaign called Toke pure to encourage safer ways to use cannabis.
OK, so before we go any further let’s be clear; smoking anything isn’t good for you. Smoke contains a lot of chemicals, tars and oils. As a general rule of thumb, the less smoke you inhale the better.
Smoking does have one big advantage over the other method of using cannabis – eating it. Because the effect of cannabis is felt quickly when smoked, it’s far easier to gauge how much you’re using which means it’s easier to stop when you’ve had enough. That said, it’s not an instant hit as the government’s “Talk to Frank site claims.
Cannabis has traditionally (in the UK) been smoked in a tobacco mixture, it’s strongly advised that you do not mix cannabis with this dangerous and addictive drug. It is still the most popular way of using cannabis however.
How to smoke Cannabis
Joints are cannabis cigarettes. Perhaps still the most common way cannabis is used in the UK despite the serious effects of tobacco on health. Smoking joints when young has often lead to a tobacco habit amongst cannabis users.
A joint is essentially a cigarette rolled with a tobacco cannabis mixture. Joints are bigger than cigarettes though and have a rolled up bit of cardboard at the mouth end called a roach or sometimes (wrongly) a “filter”.
Joints (or spliffs) are a sociable way of sharing cannabis, there’s no doubt about that and much of the UK cannabis culture has evovled around the sharing of joints.
Joint rolling became an important part of the ritual of getting stoned, but it’s a ritual worth breaking.
Tobacco smokers claim the tobacco “dilutes” the cannabis, making it easier to spin a stash out over time but that isn’t true as tobacco is highly addictive. Smoking cannabis mixed with it often leads to severe tobacco addiction and cannabis users who smoke this way often roll a joint to satisfy the tobacco craving, rather than to get stoned. This leads to them smoking much more cannabis than they would otherwise. Tokers who give up tobacco usually find they use far less cannabis as a result.
Chillums are basically a clay or stone tube which is filled with a tobacco cannabis mixture, very popular in India. These have to be the worst method of smoking health wise as huge amounts of hot smoke are taken straight into the lungs.
Smoking with tobacco is not recommended. Tokepure
Other safer smoking tips
Be warned that some substances give off toxic fumes when hot – try not to use plastic bottles, aluminium containers, and be wary of cardboard/paper that has been printed on for instance.
Do not inhale huge quantities of smoke and try and keep it down in your lungs for as long as possible. You won’t get much more stoned, but you will help coat your lungs in tar and other unpleasant materials
One way to smoke a joint without using tobacco is to use another combustible but non toxic substance mixed with the cannabis.
Mike from Glasgow uses dried parsley (The type that can be bought in supermarkets in a small jar e.g. Schwartz brand). It started some years ago when he gave up smoking (tobacco) and someone recommended dried parsley as a substitute. He’s not smoked a single tobacco cigarette since unlike previous occasions when he”gave up” tobacco but drifted back to it because he was still using it to make a joint. The ‘parsley’ method works equally well with hash or grass he says.
Commercial non-tobacco smoking mixtures are available.
But although these “herbal mixes” do avoid the use of tobacco, they still involve breathing in large amounts of smoke, so are probably just as unhealthy as tobacco, just not addictive.
|Cannabis can be fun and very enjoyable, but as with any form of drug taking it’s important to keep it in its place. As these things go cannabis is pretty safe for most people, but nothing on earth is totally safe and cannabis is no exception. Getting stoned can lead you to be creative and to solve all sorts of mental challenges, but it won’t automatically do this, it can lead you to waste hours and hours watching junk TV. If you decide to get stoned, use it, don’t let it use you.
Always treat cannabis with respect and never abuse it. If you do get a bad reaction from getting stoned, don’t keep using it in the hope these bad feelings will pass.
So just what does cannabis do? How does it make you feel? That sounds like an easy question, in truth it’s anything but.
This first thing to know is that cannabis comes in many different varieties, which all have different versions of the same effect, versions which can be almost poles apart in some respects. Unlike almost every other recreational substance, cannabis is not a single drug, what it does is down to the combined effect of several active chemicals (drugs) and different strains of the plant have different ratios of these active chemicals. Because of this, some types of cannabis are laid back and dreamy, others are edgy and very “uppy”.
Cannabis is classed as a mild psychedelic, a mild version of the type of drugs which include LSD. This is possibly misleading as it’s nothing like LSD, cannabis doesn’t produce full on hallucinations, although it can alter your perception of the world around you. You may notice things you never noticed before, find deep complex patterns in things – especially music – and you may misunderstand things.
To try and describe what it is like to feel stoned to someone that hasn’t been there is very difficult, in a way it’s a bit like getting drunk in that it’s an intoxication, but the first thing to know is it is nothing like being drunk in the effects it has.
Whereas being drunk can change the personality of the drinker and make him or her unaware of who and where they are, Cannabis users are very much still “there” and aware of the world around them although, as we say, that perception may be changed.
Unlike getting drunk on alcohol, you are always “in control” with cannabis unless you get really hammered and fall asleep, but the world can feel distant and conversation can become difficult. Movement can be difficult and reaction times are slowed. Other people might think you are being vague and not paying attention, you might talk a lot or you might go very quiet. You might find strange things funny, or you might find you’re suddenly very concerned about what others think of you.
Sometimes you can experience a dose of paranoia, known as “the horrors” by seasoned stoners. This can be quite unpleasant and a few people find it always happens when they get stoned. If you’re one of these people, cannabis probably isn’t for you. Some types of cannabis are more likely to produce this unwanted effect than others, perhaps due to the ratio of THC to CBD.
If you toke a lot quickly, or especially if you toke after drinking a lot of alcohol, expect to “whitey”. The colour drains from your face and you can pass out, whities aren’t nice. But other than that, you are very unlikely to be sick when you get stoned, despite the claims made by the Talk to Frank anti drug campaign.
What follows is a summary of some of the things you can expect to happen if you get stoned. Of course, everyone is different and as we’ve explained, different types of cannabis produce different overall effects.
Keener perception: An increased appreciation of music or images. This is what people mostly use cannabis in a creative way for. Music in particular can sound very much more intense and elements of the music stand out. The governments anti drug site “Talk to Frank” puts it this way: “users can find hidden depths in daytime television/ the most unlikely song lyrics”. This is probably true, but by no means the full story.
A remoteness: people talk, but you miss what they say, things seem “distant”.
The munchies: a feeling of hunger. Be careful of this one, it can lead to midnight raids of the ‘fridge! It’s also one of the therapeutic effects of cannabis, particularly for cancer sufferers undergoing chemotherapy. This is one of the effects overplayed in Talk to Frank’s information however, it’s not that overpowering.
Thirst: coupled with a dry mouth and throat; it’s a good idea to have some fruit juice around, but not alcohol for best effect.
A feeling of increased empathy:, peacefulness and relaxation, oneness with nature and so on.
A definite feeling of slowed time, minutes can pass in a matter of hours, if you see what I mean.
Trancing: Getting stoned whilst dancing is an aspect of cannabis use which has been understood for a long time.
Downsides can include
Paranoia: Fear of what others think of you, or of who you are. Again, not something to overplay but this is a fairly common thing to happen from time to time. If it happens a lot, cannabis isn’t for you.
Forgetfulness: You easily forget things when stoned, especially things which have just happened or more frequently that you have just thought about.
Laziness: Cannabis is good for slobbing out and watching the world go by, be careful not to let it do that too much
The Overgrow website site used to list these components of cannabis before it was closed down:
THC: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol & delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol – THC mimics the action of anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body, which binds with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain to produce the ‘high’ associated with marijuana. THC possesses high UV-B (280-315 nm) absorption properties.
THCV: tetrahydrocannabivarin – prevalent in certain South African and Southeast Asian strains of cannabis. It is said to produce a ‘clearer high’ & seems to possess many of the therapeutic properties of THC.
CBD: Cannabidiol – previously believed to be psychoactive, or to contribute to the high by interacting with other cannabinoids, conversely the most recent research indicates that CBD has negligible effect on the high, it is however a strong anti-inflammatory, and may take the edge off some THC effects, such as anxiety. CBD as a non-psychoactive cannabinoid appears to be helpful for many medical conditions. CBD biosynthesizes into cannabinol (CBN) & tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBN: Cannabinol – a degradation product of THC, produces a depressant effect, ‘fuzzy’ forehead.
CBC: Cannabichromene – non-psychoactive , a precursor to THC.
CBG: Cannabigerol – non-psychoactive, hemp strains often posses elevated levels of CBG while possessing only trace amounts of THC.
It’s a plant
Where and when?
Getting stoned before you go to work or college isn’t a good idea. Although there are people who use cannabis to aid their concentration, being stoned will not in itself make you good at doing something, indeed, it’ll do quite the opposite.
Cannabis isn’t like alcohol and doesn’t give you a false confidence, it can affect your short term memory whilst stoned though and your reaction times are lengthened, so using machinery or driving whilst stoned is not a good idea and may be dangerous. Dealing with work colleagues can be difficult and intimidating if you’re stoned.
Make sure the location is good – getting stoned in a threatening place can also lead to the feelings of paranoia.
If you want to get stoned, do it after work, in a place you feel safe in with people you feel safe with.
So there you have it, sort of.. Getting stoned is a personal thing though. The feelings you experience are also influenced by the amount of cannabis you take and its strength, the environment you are in and maybe the people you’re with, also your emotional state before getting stoned is important.
“Hashish absorbed in large quantities produces a furious delirium and…predisposes to acts of violence and produces a characteristic strident laugh…[with habitual use] the countenance of the addict becomes gloomy, his eye is wild,and the expression of his face is stupid…his intellectual faculties gradually weaken and the whole organism decays. The addict very frequently becomes neurasthenic and eventually insane.”
Dr El Guindy, Egyptian delegate, second International Opium Conference, 1924 (it’s not true, don’t worry).