In the family of the cannabaceae there are two genera: hemp (Cannabis) and hop. Hemp, a bisexual plant, occurs worldwide with the exception of the polar regions and the tropical rainforests. Well known species of this genus are our native fiber hemp (Cannabis sativa) and the Indian hemp (Cannabis indica). Cannabis ruderalis is the third species, which is not so well known. In modern times the botanists suspect, that these three species are merely variations of one species, formed by breeding and climatic conditions.
Hemp is one of the oldest economic plants of mankind. Not only does it produce fibers, but also nutritious seeds rich in valuable oils. Special reverence, however, was given to it due to its use as a medicinal plant, as a recreational drug, as an aphrodisiac and as a sacrament to induce religious ecstasies. So it is not surprising, that hemp was already almost 3000 years ago described as a highly valued plant in Greek, Indian and Chinese scriptures. Its use however is still older, as various 6000 years old findings prove. Even in the tissues of ancient Egyptian mummies it was possible, according to a report of the Münchner Medizinische Wochenschrift, to identify tetrahydrocannabinol. In GEO, issue 10/92 this was stated more precisely: the THC-values in the hair were, even after 3000 years, still above that of average present consumers.
Use: Used are dried female buds and young leaves (= marijuana) and the pressed resin, predominantly of the female plant (= hashish). Hashish oil, that can be obtained through chemical extraction or distillation, is of comparatively limited importance. Cannabis is most often smoked, marijuana either in the form of self-rolled cigarettes, so-called joints, or in a pipe. Hashish is first heated, than crumbled into pieces and mixed with other smokable mediums (tobacco, damiana) in a cigarette or smoked in a pipe. Rarely, a tea is prepared out of marijuana or hashish (e. g. with the use of butter), eaten by itself or used as a food ingredient, to make for instance pastry or other sweets. A case became renown wherein a German police officer of the drug enforcement unit K 44 in Frankfurt served his colleagues, partly without their knowledge, hashish-biscuits.
Active constituents: Cannabinoids, particularly tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The cannabinoids are found in the resin, which is formed in specific glands on the buds and young leaves, especially in the feminine plants. Male plants also contain these inebriating substances, but, depending on the strain, mostly in much lesser concentration. Hemp grown in Germany can also form inebriating substances. What is decisive for their concentration is first of all the quality of the genetics and the intensity and duration of the natural or artificial lighting. There are various kinds of hashish and marijuana on the illegal drug market available, which, to some degree, differ strongly in their concentration of the cannabinoids. Commonly this was so far significantly higher in hashish than in marijuana, in hashish oil a multiple times higher than in hashish. As of now Dutch high-quality marijuana-strains (like „Northern lights“) often surpass average hashish in terms of potency.
Effects: Strangely enough, most people do not feel any effect during the first intake of cannabis, something which is not known from other drugs and is supposed to be related to the fact, that the liver must first learn to form specific metabolic products that are necessary for the inebriation.
While smoking, perceptible effects take place within a few minutes. The complete range of effects is reached after around 10 to 20 minutes and lasts for two to three hours. If cannabis is eaten or consumed as tea, the onset of effect takes place after about one hour, but can last ten hours or longer.
The most often reported physical effects of the use of cannabis are a more or less distinct dryness of the mouth, evident quickening of the heart beat up to distinct, occasionally also unpleasantly felt beating of the heart. Furthermore attack of ravenous hunger can occur. The inebriation happens in two phases; after a phase of stimulation follows a more dreamy, meditative phase.
The following presented effects were taken from a larger number of consumers. As such it is a matter of subjective personal experiences. That the listed effects were mostly felt as positive, might therefore be coincidence. As well are the reported enhancements of the performance of senses not of an objective kind, but came from the subjective impression of those inebriated by cannabis. The night vision however is not just subjectively enhanced, as one can learn from an article in the magazine „GEO“, issue 11/91.
The influence of hemp on the senses is often described as very impressive. Colors are usually perceived as much clearer and more vivid. The hearing, the perception of sound and particularly of rhythms is also intensified. Psychedelic artists and musicians made occasionally use of these effects.
Not only are scents perceived more intensive, but also the experience of taste, that is closely related with this sense, changes and seems to the user distinctly more refined and intensified. Most of all sweets, but especially something containing chocolate causes a delight among those under the influence of cannabis.
The sense of touch is also often perceived enhanced. Since this applies to the tactile sense of the whole body, and not just that of the hands, non-genital erotic activities can immensely gain attractivity, which should probably gladden some female partners of else foreplay-lazy men.
The often enhanced power of imagination, which transforms imaginations much more intensive into feelings and physical sensations, can especially influence the experience of sexuality pleasantly. The mood is often defined by a relaxed feeling of happiness, starting from cheerfulness up to silliness. A lose sequence of unrelated thoughts often takes place.
At a bit higher dosages it can come to the subjective experience of oneness with the surrounding nature, to ecstatic-visionary, but also to meditative contemplative states of mind. Since the boundary between consciousness and the subconscious becomes permeably, memories, that were assumed to be long forgotten, can come back into consciousness more frequently.
Usually the consumption of only very high doses leads to optic and acoustic hallucinations. How the inebriation is experienced, depends normally on the following factors: the dose, the surrounding, in which the consumption takes place and the inner attitude towards the drug. Experienced consumers are capable of controlling the inebriation as well as the experience that takes place during it. The clarity of thoughts is hardly impaired during a cannabis experience.
Medically, cannabis has shown positive effects on the following illnesses: increased intraocular pressure (glaucoma), tendency to develop cramps, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, asthma, strong nausea and vomiting. Synthetic THC was often prescribed in the USA in past years, in order to deal with the strong nausea of cancer patients who were treated with chemotherapy, which occurs frequently during such therapies. Especially in connection with AIDS cannabis is again positively talked about: also in this case there is a loss of appetite and digestive problems , a. o. also due to the necessary medication with a resulting emaciation. This poses a serious risk factor. As of now in several cases the appetite improved after the intake of THC or marijuana and it followed that the weight increased. This means a prolonged life-expectancy.
That terminally ill people were not able to receive this little help legally simply because of a political obstinacy that lasted for many years was a scandalous violation of the basic right of these ill humans. The right to live and physical integrity includes the right for a longer life.
As of now, although the situation has improved, it still cannot be called satisfactory. The standard medication of cannabis therapy is, at this time, Marinol, a synthetic THC-medicament, that not only costs several hundreds of Euros, but must be also circumstantially imported from the USA. And worst of all, it seems that Marinol acts much less satisfactory, than a simple, cheap tincture made from a hemp plant. Meanwhile it is possible to obtain a permission for the medical use of cannabis buds from the German “Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte”. Home growing for medical reasons, which is permitted in several states of the US and in Canada, is still prohibited in Germany (as of 09/2011) and most European countries. Cannabis magazines, e. g. grow!, regularly report about this topic.
Side Effects: People with circulatory problems should be careful with cannabis, since the pulse rate increases. Damages to the immune and reproductive system are claimed every now and then, but are, according to Prof. Dr. Dominiak, not proven. The smoking of cannabis can lead to lung problems. These are, in comparison to the damage caused by the habitual smoking of tobacco, to be classified as rather minor. Through the use of a vaporizer, the impact on the lungs can be largely reduced.
Performance of the short-term memory is reduced under the influence of cannabis. Like other inebriants or medicaments, cannabis might possibly cause in single cases outbreaks of latently present psychosis. People, who are inclined to psychic problems, should just as well abstain from the use of cannabis like those, who want to escape socially or psychologically intolerable situations.
Physical withdrawal symptoms cannot be observed in the case of cannabis. At worst irritability, nervousness and inner unrest can occur for a short period of time. These are, however, signs of a occasionally occurring psychological dependence. An increase of dosages of cannabis was not heard of.
If cannabis is taken too often in excess, occasionally so-called flashbacks can occur. Those were for a long time mistaken for a complete state of inebriation without a preceding intake of drugs. Actually those are rather short-lasting memory shards of such states of mind that come to one’s consciousness within split seconds but practically do not impair ones attention, for example while driving.
Terrifying states under the influence of cannabis also fall under rare occurrences. If ever, it occurs at high doses taken by inexperienced users. Since the hallucinations caused by cannabis are less distinct as those due to other drugs and the mental clarity is hardly impaired, this condition is usually very controllable by calming him down and eventually administer sugar-containing drinks. Unconscious fears of the user play a larger role here than the actual effect of the drug.
Some authors, especially Nahas, report much more serious side effects due to cannabis-consumption. Nahas, however, is himself being questioned in professional circles, not in the least because his results were based primarily on force feeding of rodents with ridiculously high amounts of cannabis. Modern authors, for example Prof. Dr. Dominiak, reject the validity of these experiments also for humans.
Suppliers: Hashish and marijuana are only quasi-legally available in the Netherlands. The importation of cannabis, also bought there, is strictly prohibited in almost all countries. Seeds, especially of breeds selected for their potency, are grown in the Netherlands, but can no longer be traded or owned in many countries, if they are intended for the unauthorized cultivation of cannabis. As of now, farmers again are allowed to grow specific, almost THC-free fiber hemp breeds in most European countries.
Miscellaneous: The whole hemp-plant, with the exception of the seeds, falls in all countries under the act regulating controlled drugs and narcotics. The possession and transfer of live or dried plants or products made out of them is punishable by law. Therefore, the consumption is dissuaded. The possession of hempseeds is legal in most western countries if it’s not for the purpose of illegal growing. The cultivation of fiber hemp is as of now permitted to farmers under certain conditions; the breeds, which are solely permitted for this purpose, are almost free of THC. Dried plants or products manufactured from plants, that come from the permitted cultivation, do not fall under the controlled drugs act.
Literature: Cannabis is much more multifarious in its effects as can be described here. A very detailed description of cannabis is found in the German “Hanf-Handbuch“ which is mentioned in the list of literature. Cannabis as a medicinal plant points to the book „Hanf als Heilmittel“. „Hanfkultur weltweit“ is written from the view of a world traveler. It gives a fascinating overview about the use and the juristic situation of hemp in almost 100 countries. There is also a wide list of literature in English available, about just any topic related to cannabis, one can imagine.