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Health Canada: Canada’s Drug Strategy

By admin | July 26, 2004

Straight Facts About Drugs and Drug Abuse,
by Health Canada.

Short-term effects

Effects of smoking are felt within a few minutes and last two to four hours. Effects from ingestion (e.g., eaten in baked or cooked foods) appear more gradually and last longer, and the person may feel dull and sluggish for some time afterwards.

The person feels calm, relaxed, talkative and sometimes drowsy. Concentration and short-term memory are markedly impaired, and sensory perception seems enhanced, colours are brighter, sounds are more distinct, and the sense of time and space is distorted. Appetite increases, especially for sweets. Some people withdraw, or experience fearfulness, anxiety, depression; a few experience panic, terror or paranoia, particularly with larger doses. Some experience hallucinations with larger doses and symptoms worsen in persons with psychiatric disorders, particularly schizophrenia. Physical effects include impaired coordination and balance, rapid heartbeat, red eyes, dry mouth and throat. Usual doses impair motor skills; especially when used in combination with alcohol; cannabis use before driving is particularly dangerous. THC, the active ingredient, has been detected in many bodies of fatally-injured drivers and pedestrians in Canada and the United States.

Long-Term Effects

Signs of chronic, heavy use may include decreased motivation and interest, as well as difficulties with memory and concentration. These problems tend to clear when regular use stops. However, there is increasing research evidence of lasting harmful effects on mental function in some people. The respiratory system is damaged by smoking; a single joint of marijuana yields much more tar than a strong cigarette. Tar in cannabis smoke contains higher amounts of cancer-producing agents than tar in tobacco smoke. Studies suggest that developmental delays may occur in children whose mothers used drugs heavily during pregnancy.

Origin and medical uses

Obtained from the plant Cannabis sativa, which grows in almost any climate. In the past, most Cannabis products found in Canada were grown in South and Central America. Now much is grown locally, some under hydroponic conditions. THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocan-
nabinol) and other cannabis constituents have been claimed in anecdotal reports to relieve symptoms associated with the following medical conditions: nausea and vomiting, wasting syndrome, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and glaucoma. THC chemically synthesized is marketed as Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone), a synthetic cannabinoid, are both used orally to treat nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy. The treatment of AIDS-related anorexia associated with weight loss is another approved use of Marinol (dronabinol).

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