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Cannabis drug

Drugs & Medication

Cannabis drug

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A Cannabis sativa plant

The psychoactive drug cannabis is known by many nicknames (some pertaining to certain preparations.) It is produced from parts of the Cannabis sativa plant, primarily the cured flowers and gathered trichomes of the female plant (as well as the less psychoactive remains of the plant, and its highly psychoactive resin.) The major active chemical compound Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, has psychoactive and medicinal effects when consumed, usually by smoking or ingestion. Humans have been consuming cannabis since prehistory, though in the 20th century there was a rise in the use of cannabis for recreational and religious purposes. At the beginning of the 21st century, it is estimated that cannabis is used by four per cent of the world's adult population each year, making cannabis more popular than all other illicit drugs combined. [1] The possession, use, or sale of psychoactive cannabis products became illegal in many parts of the world in the early 20th century. Since then, while some countries have intensified the enforcement of cannabis prohibition, others have reduced the priority of enforcement to the point of tolerating consumption. The supplying of cannabis remains illegal almost everywhere in the world through the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, while simple possession of small quantities is tolerated in a few countries.


Ancient history

Biologists generally agree that the natural cannabis plant first grew somewhere in the Himalayas. Evidence of the smoking of cannabis can be found as far back as the Neolithic age, where charred hemp seeds were found in a ritual brazier at a burial site in present day Romania[2] . The most famous users of cannabis were the ancient Hindus. It was called ganjika in Sanskrit (ganja in modern Indian languages).[3] According to legend, Shiva, the destroyer of evil in the Hindu trinity, told his disciples to revere the plant. The ancient drug soma, mentioned in the Vedas as a sacred intoxicating hallucinogen, was sometimes associated with cannabis. It has also been identified with a number of other plants and a mushroom, Amanita muscaria, so the involvement of cannabis cannot be definitively quantified.

The citizens of the Persian Empire would partake in the ceremonial burning of massive cannabis bonfires, directly exposing themselves and neighboring tribes to the billowing fumes, oftentimes for over 24 hours. [4][5]

Cannabis was also well known to the Assyrians, who discovered it from the Aryans. Using it in some religious ceremonies, they called it qunubu, or the drug for sadness. Also introduced by the Aryans, the Scythians as well as the Thracians/Dacians used it, whose shamans (the kapnobatai - "those who walk on smoke/clouds") burned cannabis flowers in order to induce trances. The cult of Dionysus, which is believed to have originated in Thrace, is also believed to have inhaled cannabis smoke.

Religious and spiritual use

Cannabis has a long history of religious use, especially in India, where it has been used by wandering spiritual sadhus for centuries. The religious group that (in the west) is most well-known for their use of cannabis in a spiritual context is the Rastafari movement, though it is by no means the only group (others include the Church of the Universe). Some historians and etymologists have claimed that cannabis was used by ancient Jews, early Christians, and of early Muslims of the Sufi order.[6] Hashish was said to have been used by the Hashshashin, a warrior sect, but there is no significant evidence for this, as the name was only used as a derogatory term for them by others. [6]

Many individuals also consider their use of cannabis to be spiritual regardless of organized religion.

Medicinal use

Medically, cannabis is most often used as an appetite stimulant and pain reliever for certain illnesses, including cancer, AIDS and other diseases. It is used to relieve glaucoma and certain neurological illnesses such as epilepsy, migraine and bipolar disorder. It has also been found to relieve nausea for chemotherapy patients. A recent study has also indicated that cannabis can be used to prevent Alzheimer's disease[1]. The medical use of cannabis is politically controversial, but physicians sometimes recommend it informally. A synthetic version of the major active chemical in cannabis, THC, is available in many countries in the form of a pill as the prescription drug dronabinol (Marinol). THC has also been found to reduce arterial blockages[7]. A sublingual spray derived from an extract of cannabis has also been approved for treatment of multiple sclerosis in Canada as the prescription drug Sativex [8] - this drug may now be legally imported into the United Kingdom and Spain on prescription.[9]

United States

Eleven states[10] in the United States passed laws allowing cannabis possession and consumption for medical purposes; however, the Supreme Court of the United States in Gonzales v. Raich ruled that the listing of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance was constitutional, and that possession for any reason other than approved medical research was therefore illegal under federal law. This remained consistent with their ruling in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, an 8-0 decision stating that there is no exception as a Schedule I drug for people to use cannabis for medical purposes.[11] This creates an interesting tension between state and federal laws.[12]

Some local and state governments have either partially decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis, or simply advised local authorities to limit enforcement of controlled substance laws to more serious offenses. A 2005 initiative ordinance in Denver, Colorado, for instance, repealed municipal penalties for possession of less than one ounce of cannabis by adults twenty-one and older, though Colorado state and federal penalties remain in effect.[13] A 2006 advisory policy adopted by the city of West Hollywood, California holds that the city's contracted law enforcement agency, the Los Angeles County Sheriff, should not target simple possession or private consumption of cannabis by adults within the city.[14][15] With the 1975 Ravin v. State decision, the Alaska Supreme Court declared the state's anti-drug law unconstitutional with respect to possession of small amounts of cannabis, holding that the right to privacy guaranteed by the Alaska state constitution outweighed the state's interest in banning the drug.[16] Despite a 1990 initiative statute and a 2006 legislative statute contradicting the Ravin decision, Alaska courts continue to follow Ravin, voiding laws which criminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis.[17][18][19]

In the November 7, 2006 election, voters in Colorado, Nevada and South Dakota rejected propositions that would have legalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.[20]

A 1998 study by pro-legalization lobby NORML estimated cannabis to be the largest cash crop in several non-Midwestern states, and the fourth largest cash crop nationwide.[21]

Cannabis seeds
Cannabis seeds

New breeding and cultivation techniques

Advances in breeding and cultivation techniques have increased the diversity and potency of cannabis strains since 1970, and these strains are now widely smoked all over the world. These advances are known as the sinsemilla techniques of production; sinsemilla, Spanish for without seed, are the dried, seedless female flowers of cannabis plants which have been grown in the absence of males to ensure no pollination takes place. Because THC potency and production drops off once pollination takes place, various techniques such as seed banks, hydroponics, cloning, lighting techniques, and the sea of green method have been utilized, in part as a response to prohibition enforcement efforts which have made outdoor cultivation more risky; thus, efficient indoor cultivation has become more common. These same advances have led to fewer seeds being present in cannabis currently than were present 20 years ago.

Many opponents of cannabis use, both in and out of government, have exaggerated the increases in potency and ramifications thereof. In the United States, government advertisements encourage parents to disregard their own experience with cannabis when speaking to their children, on the premise that pot today is significantly stronger and thus more dangerous than that which they themselves might have smoked in the past.[22] In a general pattern of proposing reverses in cannabis rescheduling, the UK government is considering scheduling stronger cannabis (skunk, in local parlance) as a separate, more restricted substance. Many cannabis proponents disagree vehemently, reasoning that as one must smoke less cannabis to achieve the same effect, it actually is safer and less potentially carcinogenic in the long run than that which was smoked in earlier times.

Preparations for human consumption

Cannabis flowers, or buds, in a plastic bag.
Cannabis flowers, or buds, in a plastic bag.

Cannabis is prepared for human consumption in several forms:

  • Marijuana or buds, the resin gland-rich flowering tops of female plants.
  • Hashish, a concentrated resin mostly comprised of trichomes that are extracted physically, as with ice hash, or chemically.
  • Sinsemilla or sensemillia, flowering tops which are free of seeds as a result of being grown in a pollen-free environment. Since no plant energy can go into seed formation, this version is higher in psychoactive components.
  • Kief or kif, a powder containing the resin glands (glandular trichomes, often incorrectly called "crystals" or "pollen"); it is produced by sifting marijuana and leaves.
  • Charas, hand-made hashish produced by hand-rubbing the resin from the resin gland-rich parts of the plant. Often thin dark rectangular pieces.
  • Bhang, prepared by the wet grinding of the leaves of the plant and used as a drink.
  • Hash oil, resulting from extraction or distillation of THC-rich parts of the plant with isopropyl or butane.
  • Budder, processed hash oil. Ordinary hash oil is whipped to incorporate air, making it a foam. It has been marketed as being anywhere between 82% and 100% THC, though no actual lab tests have been done to validate this claim.
  • Resin, when smoked through a pipe all of the above will cause black goo to create a film on the sides or collect in certain nooks depending on its shape. This can be collected and resmoked. This method is commonly referred to as scraping.
  • Minimally potent leaves and detritus, called shake, brush, bush or leaf.

These forms are certainly not exclusive and combinations of two or more different forms of cannabis are common. Mixing different forms is done mainly to obtain a different or more powerful effect. Between the many different strains of Cannabis and the various ways that it is prepared for consumption, there are innumerable types of blends or mixes, similar to the countless varieties of mixed alcoholic beverages that are available.

There are two recognized subspecies of Cannabis sativa, Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa and C. sativa subsp. indica. [23]


There are a wide variety of methods of smoking cannabis. The most popular include the joint, the blunt, the bong, the pipe more commonly called a "bowl" or "piece", the shotgun, and the one-hitter. These are sometimes smoked inside a small closed area (such as a car) used to trap smoke so that it is inhaled with every breath. This is often referred to as "hotboxing", "fishbowling", "clam-baking", or "green-housing.". Smoking in a small enclosed area such as a car or under a blanket is commonly referred to in Australia as smoking in a "Dutch Oven".

Variety of cannabis-smoking paraphernalia.
Variety of cannabis-smoking paraphernalia.

To create a joint, cannabis is rolled up into a cigarette, using rolling paper (where available). Brown paper, newsprint, and other assorted paper products can be used, but these often contain harmful chemicals. Cannabis cigars, or blunts, can also be created by using the wrapper of a standard cigar.

A bong is a water pipe through which cannabis smoke is filtered. Variants include the gravity bong, which consists of a cone atop a perforated or cut water bottle. This method of cannabis smoking is one of the most efficient, as the presence of a chamber and carburetor reduce smoke waste.

Pipes are usually made of blown glass, wood, or non-reactive metals. Metal pipes are often made of interchangeable pieces. Glass pipes often have a carburetor, colloquially referred to as a carb, rush, choke, or shotgun, that is covered for suction then released for inhalation. Some users also prefer vertically held pipes, or improvised pipes ("tinnies") made from aluminium foil (either constructed entirely from the foil or by using it as a gauze), small plumbing fittings, soda cans, crisp fruits or vegetables, or the cardboard from bathroom-tissue or aluminium foil rolls.

A "one-hitter" is a device that allows smaller amounts of cannabis to be smoked with equal suction. Cannabis buds are loaded into a compartment for combustion. The smoker then lights the compartment and the entire amount of cannabis is smoked. This is repeated for each hit. This method is also efficient in titrating the exact dose desired.

A glass bong- a method of smoking cannabis
A glass bong- a method of smoking cannabis

Oral consumption

Cannabis may be orally consumed. In order to release its psychoactive properties hashish can be eaten raw or mixed with water but marijuana will only be absorbed into the bloodstream by blending it with ethanol or lipids. The effects of the drug take longer to begin, but last longer and may be perceived as more physical rather than mental, though there are claims to the contrary. A dose of oral cannabis is often considered to give a stronger experience than the equivalent dose of smoked cannabis. A common belief holds that smoking cannabis leads to a large amount of the active compounds being lost in the exhaled smoke or simply decomposing on burning, whereas ingested cannabis results in 100% consumption of the active compounds, an assertion which cannot be confirmed without objective analysis. It is thought that the active component of cannabis, Δ9-THC, is converted to the more psychoactive 11-hydroxy-THC in the liver.[24] Titration is much more complex than through inhalation. Common preparations involve blending with butter, to create Cannabutter that is used in preparing Brownies, fudge, cookies, ganja goo balls or space cakes. When blended with melted butter, the drug is finely minced almost into powder form. However there are some preparations that do not contain butter in them and therefore fall into a slightly different category; these include the Leary biscuit, which requires less preparation than more "conventional" recipes. Infusion in drinks containing milk and flavoring herbs is also possible, and more common in India. Hollowed-out gumballs filled with the drug, wrapped and distributed labeled as Greenades, were identified in 2006 as being used by high school students in the United States.[25]

As with other drugs that are taken orally, it is sometimes customary to fast before taking the drug to increase the effect, possibly because an empty stomach will absorb the drug faster so it 'hits' stronger. However, some people do eat before consuming the drug because eating it on an empty stomach makes them feel sick. Still, time to effect onset is an hour or sometimes more, as opposed to smoking, where effects can be almost immediate.

Cannabis can also be leached in high-percentage ethanol (often grain alcohol) to create Green Dragon. This process is often used to utilize otherwise low-quality stems and leaves.

Cannabis can also be consumed as a tea. THC is lipophilic and only slightly water soluble, with a solubility of only 2.8 grams per litre,[26] but enough to make a tea effective. Water-based infusion is generally considered to be inefficient.

The seeds of the plant, high in protein and fatty acids, are appreciated by many species of birds. Many countries, including the United States, make the possession of viable cannabis seeds illegal[27], although they can be openly bought and sold legally in much of Europe, including the UK.


With a vaporizer, cannabis can be heated to a temperature of about 365 °F (185 °C), at which the active ingredients are released into gaseous form with little or no burning of the plant material. With this method, the user does not inhale as many (or any) toxic chemicals depending on the quality of the vaporizer. Scientific studies by MAPS/NORML have yielded varied results on the effectiveness of vaporizing as a method of cannabis consumption. One particular study by MAPS/NORML found 95% THC and no toxins delivered in the vapor.[28] However, an older study by MAPS/NORML showed minimal reduction of toxins.[29]

Hot-knifing (Blades)

Hot-knifing, spots, blasting or doing blades is a process in which the tips of two knives are heated to a very high temperature, often by inserting them into the heating element of an electric or gas stove. The cannabis is then pressed between the heated knife-tips, rapidly combusting, or vaporising it depending upon the amount of heat used. The vaporized cannabis is funneled into the mouth of the smoker through the use of a glass or plastic bottle, empty pen, or other hollow tube or funnel or free handed.

In New Zealand and Australia, this is known as "spots". "Spots" can refer to both the activity of hot-kniving (aka "spotting") and the small, rolled balls of cannabis consumed in the process. Spots are much more efficient than bongs or joints; as the amount of cannabis required to constitute a hit is less and the dosage is easily controlled. This method is most commonly employed with high quality cannabis or hashish.

Another method of "spotting" uses knife blades heated to a much lower temperature, only hot enough to vaporise the active ingredients, leaving the organic material scorched, rather than burnt to ash, thus decreasing potential harmful consequences of the smoke itself.

Immediate effects of consumption

A dried flowered bud of the Cannabis sativa plant, in this case, Sweet Tooth #3, a fourth generation, third backcross to Sweet Pink Grapefruit mother
A dried flowered bud of the Cannabis sativa plant, in this case, Sweet Tooth #3, a fourth generation, third backcross to Sweet Pink Grapefruit mother

The nature and intensity of the immediate effects of cannabis consumption vary according to the dose, the species or hybridization of the source plant, the method of consumption, the user's mental and physical characteristics (such as possible tolerance), and the environment of consumption. This is sometimes referred to as set and setting. Smoking the same cannabis either in a different frame of mind (set) or in a different location (setting) can alter the effects or perception of the effects by the individual. Effects of cannabis consumption may be loosely classified as cognitive and physical. Anecdotal evidence suggests that drug varieties of Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa tend to produce more of the cognitive or perceptual effects, while C. sativa subsp. indica tends to produce more of the physical effects.

Active ingredients, metabolism, and method of activity

Of the approximately 315[30] different psychoactive chemicals found in Cannabis, the main active ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC). THC can degrade to other cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol or cannabinol, which can make one feel sleepy and disoriented. Different cannabis products have different ratios of these and other cannabinoids. Depending on the ratio, the quality and nature of the "high" will vary.

THC has an effect on the modulation of the immune system, which may have an effect on malignant cells, but there is insufficient scientific study to determine whether this might promote or limit cancer. Cannabinoid receptors are also present in the human reproductive system, but there is insufficient scientific study to conclusively determine the effects of cannabis on reproduction. Mild allergies to cannabis may be possible in some members of the population.

A study has shown that holding cannabis smoke in one's lungs for longer periods of time does not conclusively increase THC's effects on psychological test performance.[31] However, a more recent study by the same authors indicates that a longer breath-holding duration increases the subjective ratings of ones' "high."[32] This latter study also found that a long breath-holding duration decreased subjects' subjective ratings of "calmness" more than a short breath-holding duration. Additionally, subjects who held cannabis smoke in their lungs for a long duration felt slightly less "relaxation" while subjects who held the smoke for a short period gave higher "relaxation" ratings.

List of effects

Cannabis has a broad spectrum of possible cognitive, behavioral, and physiological effects, the occurrence of which vary from user to user. Some of these are the intended effect desired by users, some may be considered desirable depending on the situation, and others are generally considered undesirable. Users of cannabis report that these kinds of effects are more often produced by material derived from Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa.

Cannabis also has effects that are predominantly physical or sensory, widely believed to be more common with material derived from C. sativa subsp. indica.

Cognitive effects

  • Short or long-term psychosis/schizophrenic disorders that begin in some young users [33]
  • Varying amounts of paranoia and anxiety in some users (usually when overdosed or anxious before use)[34]
  • Some studies report the loss of coordination and distorted sense of time in some users[35], while others fail to find effects on time perception and reaction time. [36]
  • Impairment of short-term memory in some heavy users (7 cigarettes a week and more) [37]
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations at high doses in some users[38]
  • Increased mental activity, like metacognition and introspective or meditative states of mind in most users[39]
  • Relaxation or stress reduction in some users
  • Entheogenesis (e.g. per Rastafarian users, more "Jah-Vibrations") in some users[40]

Additionally, cannabis affects blood flow to the brain by narrowing blood vessels analogous to how heart disease affects blood flow. Although studies have not proven altogether conclusive on the subject, recent work suggests that blood flow of those consuming less than 70 joints a week shows improvement after a month's cessation.[41]

Behavioral effects

  • Varying degrees of euphoria (though usually mild) and feelings of well-being[42]

Physiological effects

  • Antiemetic properties (in moderate doses) [43]
  • Lowered intraocular pressure, beneficial to glaucoma patients and sufferers of certain types of headaches, cramps, and eye pain.
  • Dilation of blood vessels (vasodilatation),[44] resulting in:
    • Increased blood flow and heart rate (possibly even tachycardia)
    • Reddening or drying of eyes
  • Lower blood pressure while standing. Higher blood pressure while sitting (note that this can lead to instances of orthostatic hypotension, also known as head rush).[45]
  • Change in appetite, increase (often referred to as "the munchies") is an effect of stimulation of the endocannabinoid system, which affects body weight, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia[46] though recent scientific and ongoing anecdotal evidence also points to it as an appetite suppressant.
  • Varying degrees of dry (cotton) mouth[47]
  • Dilation of alveoli (air sacs) in lungs, resulting in deeper respiration and increased coughing.

Lethal dose

According to the Merck Index, 12th edition, the LD50, the lethal dose for 50% of rats tested by inhalation, is 42 mg/kg of body weight. That is the equivalent of a 165 lb (75 kg) man ingesting all of the THC in 21 one-gram cigarettes of high-potency (15% THC) cannabis buds at once, assuming no THC was lost through burning or exhalation. For oral consumption, the LD50 for rats is 1270 mg/kg and 730 mg/kg for males and females, respectively, equivalent to the THC in about a pound of 15% THC cannabis. Only with intravenous administration may such a level be even theoretically possible. [48] The ratio of cannabis required to saturate cannaboid receptors to the amount of cannabis required to have a fatal over dose is 1:40,000.

There has only ever been one recorded instance of an alleged fatal overdose due to cannabis. In January 2004, Lee Maisey of Pembrokeshire, Wales was found dead. The coroner's report stated "Death due to probable cannabis toxicity". It had been reported that Maisey smoked about six joints a day. Mr. Maisey's blood contained 130 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of the THC metabolite THC-COOH. However, the validity of the finding did not stand up well under review. As reported on 2004-01-28 in the Neue Züricher Zeitung, the Federal Health Ministry of Switzerland asked Dr. Rudolf Brenneisen, a professor at the department for clinical research at the University of Bern, to review the data of this case. Dr. Brenneisen said that the data of the toxicological analysis and collected by autopsy were "scanty and not conclusive" and that the conclusion "death by cannabis intoxication" was "not legitimate."[49]

Four bags of cannabis
Four bags of cannabis

Health issues and the effects of cannabis

There is some conclusive scientific evidence about the long-term effects of human cannabis consumption.[50]

The most significant confounding factor is the use of other drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, by test subjects in conjunction with cannabis. When subjects using only cannabis were combined in the same sample with subjects using other drugs as well, researchers could not reach a conclusion as to whether their findings were caused by cannabis, other drugs, or the interaction between them. In addition, research using cannabis is heavily restricted in many countries, making it difficult to get new studies funded or approved. Since there are so many different compounds in cannabis, it is difficult to predict or accurately measure its effects. Some conclusions established with some degree of certainty that cannabis is less likely to cause emphysema or cancer than tobacco[51]; that it is unlikely to cause birth defects or developmental delays in the children of users,[52][53] and in a study done by the University of California Los Angeles in 2006, that even heavy cannabis smokers do not increase their risk for lung cancer.[54] According to a United Kingdom government report, using cannabis is less dangerous than both tobacco and alcohol in social harms, physical harm and addiction.[55]

Newer research has also shown that cannabis use is generally higher among sufferers of schizophrenia, but causality has not been established[56][57] and confirmed that sustained early-adolescent cannabis use among certain genetically predisposed individuals has an elevated correlation with certain mental illness outcomes, ranging from psychotic episodes to clinical schizophrenia.[58][59]


A large scale anti-prohibition demonstration in Vancouver, Canada  April 20, 2005
A large scale anti-prohibition demonstration in Vancouver, Canada April 20, 2005

Since the 20th century, most countries have enacted laws against the cultivation, use, possession, or transfer of cannabis for recreational use. Naturally, these laws impact 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, and others where laws against its use, possession, or sale are not enforced. Many jurisdictions have also decriminalized possession of small quantities of cannabis, so that it is punished by confiscation or a fine, rather than imprisonment. By effectively removing the user from the criminal justice system, decriminalization focuses more on those who traffic and sell the drug on the black market. However, this does not solve the problem of how a user will obtain the "legal amount" of cannabis, since buying or growing cannabis is still illegal. Increasingly, many jurisdictions also permit cannabis use for medicinal purposes. Some countries allow the sale through drug companies. However, simple possession can carry long jail sentences in some countries, particularly in East Asia, where the sale of cannabis may lead to a sentence of life in prison or even execution.

U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics public service announcement used in the late 1930s and 1940s.
U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics public service announcement used in the late 1930s and 1940s.

Recent history

Under the name cannabis, 19th century medical practitioners sold the drug, (usually as a tincture) popularizing the word amongst English-speakers. It was rumoured to have been used to treat Queen Victoria's menstrual pains as her personal physician, Sir John Russell Reynolds, was a staunch supporter of the benefits of cannabis.[60] Cannabis was also openly available from shops in the US. By the end of the 19th century, its medicinal use began to fall as other drugs like aspirin took over its use as a pain reliever.

In 1894, the Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission commissioned by the UK Secretary of State and the government of India, was instrumental in the decision not to criminalize the drug in those countries. The Report, which at over 500 pages remains one of the most complete collections of information on cannabis in existence, shows the stark contrast in the way that the American and British governments went about deciding whether to criminalize cannabis.[61]

The name marijuana (Mexican Spanish marihuana, mariguana) is associated almost exclusively with the plant's psychoactive use. The term is now well known in English largely due to the efforts of American drug prohibitionists during the 1920s and 1930s, which deliberately used a Mexican name for cannabis in order to turn the populace against the idea that it should be legal.

Although cannabis has been used for its psychoactive effects since ancient times, it first became well known in the United States during the jazz music scene of the late 1920s and 1930s. Louis Armstrong became a prominent and life-long devotee. It was popular in the blues scene as well, and eventually became a prominent part of 1960s counterculture.

Decriminalization and legalization

In recent decades, a movement to decriminalize cannabis has arisen in several countries . This movement seeks to make simple possession of cannabis punishable by only confiscation or a fine, rather than prison. In the past several years, the movement has started to have some successes. These include Denver, Colorado legalizing possession of up to an ounce of cannabis[62], a broad coalition of political parties in Amsterdam, Netherlands unveiling a pilot program to allow farmers to legally grow it,[63] and Massachusetts voting in favor of a bill to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis[64]. Also, in Alaska, cannabis was decided legal for in-home, personal use under the Raven vs. State ruling in 1975. This ruling allowed up to four ounces of cannabis for these purposes. In a response to former Governor Frank Murkowski's successive attempt to re-criminalize cannabis, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state and on July 17, 2006, Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins awarded the Case Summary judgement to the ACLU. However she said, "No specific argument has been advanced in this case that possession of more than 1 ounce of cannabis, even within the privacy of the home, is constitutionally protected conduct under Ravin or that any plaintiff or ACLU of Alaska member actually possesses more than 1 ounce of cannabis in their homes.", at first glance it appears that possession has been reduced to one ounce when in fact this was a mere case summary review filed by the ACLU, and she even said "A lower court cannot reverse the State Supreme Court's 1975 decision in Ravin v. State" and "Unless and until the Supreme Court directs otherwise, Ravin is the law in this state and this court is duty bound to follow that law". The law regarding possession of cannabis has not changed in Alaska, and the Supreme Court has rejected to review the case, therefore the law still stands at 4 ounces.[citation needed] In 2001 in the United Kingdom, it was announced that cannabis would become a Class C drug, rather than a Class B, this change took effect in 2004. Since then there has recently been some controversy amongst UK politicians about the message this sends out, with some calling for its reclassification to Class B. [65] The Government of Mexico voted to legalize the possession of cannabis under 5 grams on April 28, 2006. [66] However, as of May 3, 2006, Mexican President Vicente Fox has said that he will not sign this proposed law until Congress removes the parts that would decriminalize the possession of small quantities of drugs[67] and vetoed the bill on May 4, 2006,[68] sparking broad controversy over the bill.[69][70][71] In the early summer of 2006 Fox and the Mexican congress came to an agreement and legalized possession of small amounts (and also measured amounts of other drugs). On July 17th, 2006, Italian Social Solidarity Minister Paolo Ferrero, speaking of the urgent need for depenalising the consumption of light drugs, said that "a joint is less harmful than a litre of wine." [72] In The Australian state of South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, two plants both less than 6 ft tall are allowed for personal use.



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