Cannabis 101 - Everything you need to know

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Cannabis, also known as marijuana is a flowering herb that has many species. In the last decades, cannabis has become a big part of society and is used all the time by all types of people. It can be used to make a lot of industrial products. Research suggests that cannabis has many medical benefits. Being used both recreationally and medically, cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug on the planet. There are many laws that prohibited the use of cannabis during the last decades, and are now being rewritten. All the new changes in law are now giving way to decriminalization and full legalization of cannabis.

Brief history

Cannabis was one of the first plants to be cultivated in Central Asia. Cannabis achenes that date back to 8000BC were found on an island near Japan. Back then cannabis was used as a herb or to make ropes and paper. The psychoactive effects of cannabis have been first documented by the ancient Greeks at around 440BC. The use of hashish became popular in the Persian empire and spread to the Arab world fairly quickly. Cannabis was first regulated in Arabia in the 1300s.

Uses of cannabis

Recreational

Cannabis is mostly used by people recreationally. The plant contains 483 chemicals. One of them is a psychoactive compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is responsible for most of the psychoactive effects, "high" that you get when consuming the drug. Cannabis can be consumed in many different ways when using the drug recreationally. It can be smoked, vaporized and even digested when it is in the correct form. The use of Cannabis alters the state of consciousness. It makes people feel happy, euphoric, relaxed, sociable and uninhibited. Your perception of time and space might also get distorted while using the drug.

Medical

While cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug in the United States, and recreational use is still illegal in much of the world, research on cannabis has boomed. New research that reveals a lot of health benefits from the use of cannabis and has put the medical use of cannabis in the spotlight. All this research has resulted in the creation of cannabinoid medication.

The most common medical use for cannabis is to relief long-term pain but it has many more uses. It is used to help cancer patients by preventing nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. It is also used to help HIV/AIDS patients that take medication. Cannabis increases apetite, this makes it very useful to people with eating disorders like anorexia. Research has shown that is helps reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease. Some patients are even prescrbed cannabis to help with muscle spasms. Cannabis has many more uses and a lot more research on medical use is under way.

Cannabis contains another chemical known as cannabidiol (CBD). It's molecular structure is very similar to THC. The arrangement of the atoms is slightly different, that changes the effects on the body. Research suggests that CBD might help prevent cancer when used consistently. The FDA approved the use of CBD to cure Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome in children above 2 years old.

Hemp

Hemp is a variety of cannabis that has a very low content of THC. It is not used for medical purposes or recreationally, but is instead used in industrial applications. Hemp is one of the first plants to be spun off into fibers and used to make products with. A large variety of products can be made from hemp. Ropes, paper, clothing, biodegradable plastic, cooking oil and many more products are made using hemp.

Legality of cannabis

The war on cannabis

The first modern restrictions on cannabis appeared in In 1925. During the "International Opium Convention" a compromise what made that banned the importation "Indian hemp" to countries that have banned its use. Countries that import cannabis where also required to issue certificates approving the shipment. The certificate had to state that the cannabis was imported exclusively for medical or scientific purposes. In 1937, the United States passed the "Marihuana Tax Act" that prohibited the production hemp in addition to cannabis.

Decriminalization & Legalization

In 1972 the Dutch government divided drugs into categories depending on the danger. Cannabis was considered of the lowest danger and possession of 30 grams or less became a misdemeanor. Since then cannabis has been widely available in many local coffee shops and possession of 5 grams has been fully decriminalized. California became the first state to legalize medical use of cannabis, legalizing it in 1996. This came in defiance of federal law. 7 Years later, in 2001, Canada adopted a system to control the medical use of cannabis. Shortly after that a lot of countries followed, legalizing the medical use of the plant.

In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to legalize recreational use of cannabis. Shortly after that more states started following. A year after that Uruguay legalized recreational use of cannabis. In 2018 Canada and Georgia both passed a bill legalizing recreational use. Currently, talks about legalizing cannabis are underway all around the world, including France. A lot of countries around the world that considered cannabis illegal are now legalizing medical use. Laws also got looser and criminal sentences smaller.

Conclusion

In the last decade cannabis has skyrocketed in popularity. The majority of adults have tried cannabis, and it's more accepted by society than ever before. The recent decriminalization and legalization of cannabis has only increased its popularity. The legalization makes it easier for people to conduct new studies, uncovering many unknown health benefits that come with it. For countries that have not legalized cannabis yet, this is only good news. Just like alcohol and cigarettes, cannabis has negative health effects too. The effects are mild and the medical benefits overpower them but you should still be careful when using cannabis. Take breaks, don't over do it.

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