Cannabis Research

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The use of “Legal Highs” in NZ – Cannabis.
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that comprise of three species, Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis ruderalis (Guy, G., Whittle, B., & Robson, P., 2004). Cannabis exists in three main forms; marijuana, hashish and hash oil. The main active chemical is known as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabional or THC (“NZ Drug Foundation”, n.d). Cannabis is a depressant, it slows down the transmission of messages from the brain to body which is also the so-called high people experience from it. The strength of the high depends on the amount of THC present in the cannabis. New Zealand is one of the highest cannabis consuming countries in the world. Approximately 13.4% of the population partake in the regular
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2009). The high can also improve social situations in which one experiences infectious laughter, talkativeness and sociability (Iversen, L., 2000). Cannabis is usually smoked in a joint or water pipe to achieve these desired psychoactive effects. A dose of roughly 2-3mg of THC will produce the high effects in occasional users (Hall, W., & Degenhardt, L., 2009). Although it is often believed to be safe, there is some research evidence which argues the adverse effects of cannabis use. The dose of THC fatal to rodents has shown to be very high which led to the estimated dose fatal to humans being between 15-70g, which is much higher than that smoked by heavy users (Gable, R., 2004). More commonly reported effects include anxiety, panic reactions and psychotic symptoms as well as dose-related impairment in reaction time, information processing, perceptual-motor coordination, motor performance, attention and tracking behaviour (Ramaekers, J., Berghaus, G., Laar, M., & Drummer, O., 2004). These effects have been shown to increase the risks of accidents while driving intoxicated, although more modest impairments were found when compared to driving under the influence of alcohol as cannabis users tend to drive more slowly and take fewer risks. Long term effects of smoking cannabis have been shown to cause respiratory illness as smoking cannabis produces the same effects of smoking tobacco. The smoke itself releases carcinogens that can affect the respiratory system. Due to the fact that cannabis smokers tend to inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs for longer, they are at greater risk, however the amount smoked is less than that of tobacco smokers

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