What is cannabis?Cannabis is a drug that comes from Indian hemp plants such as Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. The main active chemical in cannabis is THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol).Cannabis is a depressant drug. Depressant drugs do not necessarily make you feel depressed. Rather, they slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages going between the brain and the body. When large doses of cannabis are taken it may also produce hallucinogenic effects.For information on synthetic cannabinoids, see our "Legal high" facts page.Other namesCannabis is also known as grass, pot, hash, weed, reefer, dope, herb, mull, buddha, ganja, joint, stick, buckets, cones, skunk, hydro, yarndi, smoke and hooch.What does cannabis look like?Leaves from the cannabis plant are bright green and have a distinctive shape with five or seven leaflets. The flowering tops and upper leaves are covered in a sticky resin.Cannabis is used for the psychoactive (mind and mood-altering) effects of THC and other active ingredients. THC is the chemical in cannabis that makes you feel “high”.There are three main forms of psychoactive cannabis: marijuana, hashish and hash oil.Marijuana is the most common and least potent form of cannabis. Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the plant.Hashish (“hash”) is dried cannabis resin, usually in the form of a small block. The concentration of THC in hashish is higher than in marijuana, producing stronger effects.Hash oil is a thick, oily liquid, golden brown to black in colour, which is extracted from cannabis. Hash oil is the strongest form of cannabis.How and why is it used?The different forms of cannabis are used in different ways:Marijuana is smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints), or in a pipe (a bong).Hashish is usually added to tobacco and smoked, or baked and eaten in foods such as hash cookies.Hash oil is usually spread on the tip or paper of a cigarette and then smoked.Cannabis and hash can also be smoked in a vaporiser. Vaporisers heat cannabis to temperatures that release its active ingredients while minimising the toxins associated with burning.The THC in cannabis is absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the lungs (if smoked), or through the walls of the stomach and intestines (if eaten). The bloodstream carries the THC to the brain, producing the “high” effects. Drugs inhaled get into the bloodstream quicker than those eaten. This means that the effects of cannabis when smoked occur more rapidly than when eaten.Paper and textilesSome species of cannabis have few psychoactive effects. These plants are used to produce hemp fibre for use in paper, textiles and clothing.Medical usesCannabis has been used for medical purposes for many centuries. It has been reported that cannabis may be useful to help conditions such as:nausea and vomiting, particularly when associated with chemotherapywasting and severe weight loss, in people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or anorexia nervosa, as it may be used as an appetite stimulantpain relief, for example in people with cancer and arthritisrelief from symptoms of some neurological disorders that involve muscle spasms, including multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuryglaucomaepilepsyasthma.For more information, please click on the Australian Drug Foundation's DrugInfo Clearinghouse web site link below.
The high absorbency of hemp hurds has led to their occasional use as an absorbent for oil and waste spill cleanup. Hemp as an industrial absorbent has generated some interest in Alberta, for use in land reclamation in the oil and gas industry. Because hemp hurds are a costly product, it is likely that animal bedding will remain the most important application.
Despite its centrality in human cultures across the globe, the European taxonomists who bequeathed Cannabis sativa its name didn’t quite get it right. When Carolus Linneaus came to naming the marijuana plant’s genus, he thought there was only one species, instead of the three we now know exist. Hence the confusion surrounding the fact that there are three distinct species of the genus Cannabis sativa, one of which is the sativa species.
Hemp has been grown for millennia in Asia and the Middle East for its fibre. Commercial production of hemp in the West took off in the eighteenth century, but was grown in the sixteenth century in eastern England. Because of colonial and naval expansion of the era, economies needed large quantities of hemp for rope and oakum. In the early 1940s, world production of hemp fiber ranged from 250 000 to 350 000 metric tonnes, Russia was the biggest producer.
The genus Cannabis was formerly placed in the nettle (Urticaceae) or mulberry (Moraceae) family, and later, along with the genus Humulus (hops), in a separate family, the hemp family (Cannabaceae sensu stricto). Recent phylogenetic studies based on cpDNA restriction site analysis and gene sequencing strongly suggest that the Cannabaceae sensu stricto arose from within the former family Celtidaceae, and that the two families should be merged to form a single monophyletic family, the Cannabaceae sensu lato.
Hempseed's amino acid profile is comparable to other sources of protein such as meat, milk, eggs and soy. Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid scores (PDCAAS), which attempt to measure the degree to which a food for humans is a "complete protein", were 0.49–0.53 for whole hemp seed, 0.46–0.51 for hempseed meal, and 0.63–0.66 for hulled hempseed.
The 113th Congress made significant changes to U.S. policies regarding industrial hemp during the omnibus farm bill debate. The Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79) provided that certain research institutions and state departments of agriculture may grow industrial hemp, as part of an agricultural pilot program, if allowed under state laws where the institution or state department of agriculture is located. The FY2015 appropriations (P.L. 113-235) further blocked federal law enforcement authorities from interfering with state agencies, growers, and agricultural research. (From "Hemp as an agricultural commodity," Congressional Research Service)
Since then, many different types of sex determination systems have been discovered, particularly in plants. Dioecy is relatively uncommon in the plant kingdom, and a very low percentage of dioecious plant species have been determined to use the XY system. In most cases where the XY system is found it is believed to have evolved recently and independently.
Cannabidiol can be taken into the body in multiple different ways, including by inhalation of cannabis smoke or vapor, as an aerosol spray into the cheek, and by mouth. It may be supplied as an oil containing only CBD as the active ingredient (no added THC or terpenes), a full-plant CBD-dominant hemp extract oil, capsules, dried cannabis, or as a prescription liquid solution.
Hemp is considered by a 1998 study in Environmental Economics to be environmentally friendly due to a decrease of land use and other environmental impacts, indicating a possible decrease of ecological footprint in a US context compared to typical benchmarks. A 2010 study, however, that compared the production of paper specifically from hemp and eucalyptus concluded that "industrial hemp presents higher environmental impacts than eucalyptus paper"; however, the article also highlights that "there is scope for improving industrial hemp paper production". Hemp is also claimed to require few pesticides and no herbicides, and it has been called a carbon negative raw material. Results indicate that high yield of hemp may require high total nutrient levels (field plus fertilizer nutrients) similar to a high yielding wheat crop.
All this means that scientists can still only obtain marijuana-derived CBD from farms licensed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (which until this year meant only one farm owned by the University of Mississippi). As for whether you should have a preference for CBD that comes from hemp, marijuana, or a pure synthetically produced version, there are some theories that THC—and even the smell and taste of cannabis—might make CBD more effective, but Bonn-Miller says these ideas have yet to be proven.
According to DSM-V criteria, 9% of those who are exposed to cannabis develop cannabis use disorder, compared to 20% for cocaine, 23% for alcohol and 68% for nicotine. Cannabis abuse disorder in the DSM-V involves a combination of DSM-IV criteria for cannabis abuse and dependence, plus the addition of craving, minus the criterion related to legal troubles.
Nevertheless, every bit of this ancient plant is useful and valuable, and not just for rope, but for textiles, auto parts, cosmetics, dynamite, supplements, food, and medicine. In ancient China, hemp seed was regarded as food for the lower classes, and in Europe, a peanut butter-like spread was made from the seeds, in both cases with the hulls intact.
A USDA analysis of hemp, “Industrial hemp in the United States: Status and market potential,” was issued in 2000, and is available at www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ages001e/index.htm. This is anonymously-authored, therefore presumably represents a corporate or “official” evaluation. The conclusion was that “US markets for hemp fiber (specialty textiles, paper, and composites) and seed (in food or crushed for oil) are, and will likely remain, small, thin markets. Uncertainty about longrun demand for hemp products and the potential for oversupply discounts the prospects for hemp as an economically viable alternative crop for American farmers.” Noting the oversupply of hempseeds associated with Canada’s 12,000 ha in 1999, the report concluded that the long term demand for hemp products is uncertain, and predicts that the hemp market in the US will likely remain small and limited. With respect to textiles, the report noted the lack of a thriving textile flax (linen) US industry (despite lack of legal barriers), so that it would seem unlikely that hemp could achieve a better market status. With respect to hemp oil, the report noted that hemp oil in food markets is limited by its short shelf life, the fact that it can not be used for frying, and the lack of US Food and Drug Administration approval as GRAS (“generally recognized as safe”). Moreover, summarizing four state analyses of hemp production (McNulty 1995, Ehrensing 1998, Kraenzel et al. 1998, Thompson et al. 1998), profitability seemed doubtful.
In the U.S., we live in a culture where more is often perceived as being better. And it’s easy, without even thinking about it, to apply that approach to CBD dosing. But when it comes to CBD, more is not necessarily better. In fact, for many, less CBD is more effective. One way to determine your optimal dosage is to start with a small amount of CBD for a couple weeks and then slowly increase your dosage, carefully taking note of symptoms, until you’re seeing the results you want.
The etymology is uncertain but there appears to be no common Proto-Indo-European source for the various forms of the word; the Greek term kánnabis is the oldest attested form, which may have been borrowed from an earlier Scythian or Thracian word. Then it appears to have been borrowed into Latin, and separately into Slavic and from there into Baltic, Finnish, and Germanic languages. Following Grimm's law, the "k" would have changed to "h" with the first Germanic sound shift, after which it may have been adapted into the Old English form, hænep. However, this theory assumes that hemp was not widely spread among different societies until after it was already being used as a psychoactive drug, which Adams and Mallory (1997) believe to be unlikely based on archaeological evidence. Barber (1991) however, argued that the spread of the name "kannabis" was due to its historically more recent drug use, starting from the south, around Iran, whereas non-THC varieties of hemp are older and prehistoric. Another possible source of origin is Assyrian qunnabu, which was the name for a source of oil, fiber, and medicine in the 1st millennium BC.