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14-Year-Olds 'Use Cannabis Daily' April 18, 2007 2:24 AM

14-Year-Olds 'Use Cannabis Daily' Health & Wellness  (tags: children, ethics, drugs, health )

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Teenagers as young as 14 are using cannabis every day, according to a study by Queen's University Belfast.
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 April 18, 2007 2:25 AM

Facts About Pot

CannabisSince the marijuana available nowadays is over 500 percent more powerful than it was ten years ago, the dangers of smoking marijuana are much more serious than they were in the 1960s.

Marijuana smoke causes cancer more than cigarette smoke. In fact, because marijuana smokers try to hold the smoke in their lungs as long as possible, one marijuana cigarette can be as damaging to the lungs as four tobacco cigarettes.

There are more than 400 chemicals in the average marijuana plant.

The active chemical in marijuana can stay in the body 14 days after smoking a joint. Even after a person has stopped smoking, the marijuana stays in their body and can still affect their ability to do things like drive, play sports, or do well on tests in school.

Marijuana is a drug that impairs. For example, it impairs attention and memory and hinders the ability to learn or solve problems. It impairs decision-making which can lead users to use bad judgment or get into dangerous situations.

Experts are not yet sure if marijuana is addictive, but they are sure that some marijuana users develop something called "amotivation syndrome." People who develop this disorder become extremely lazy, unmotivated, and they lose interest in things they used to enjoy.

Illegal drugs are often messed with on the street. No one can know what is really in them. For example, marijuana can be laced with PCP.

Drugs can cause the brain to send the wrong signals to the body. This can make a person stop breathing, have a heart attack, or go into a coma. This can happen the first time a drug is used.

General Description

The various forms of cannabis all come from the plant Cannabis Sativa, which grows throughout the world. The product of its crushed stems (hemp) was formerly vital for rope and sack making. Cannabis is available in three main forms, as a dried herb (composed of top leaves and buds), as a resin (known as hash or hashish) which is extracted from the buds and flower heads in the country of origin, and less commonly as a sticky liquid (hash oil) which is prepared from the resin.

Cannabis resin found in the UK comes from a variety of sources, traditionally the Indian subcontinent, Lebanon and Morocco, all of which differ considerably in texture, colour and aroma. Some are soft and pliable (usually from Pakistan), whilst others can be hard and brittle (often from Morocco and Lebanon). Most resin turning up on the streets will have been reformulated in Europe after leaving its country of origin, hence the term 'formula' loosely applied to any Cannabis resin of below average potency. Different types of resin have different names such as 'red seal', 'gold seal', 'squidgy black', 'rocky', 'slate' and 'soap bar' (although there are many more).

Herbal cannabis or grass is slowly gaining a greater market share. On a practical level grass is much harder to smuggle due to its bulk and aroma. Traditionally imported from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, herbal cannabis is increasingly being 'home grown' in the UK and Europe, mainly due to the increasingly sophisticated growing equipment available. Many strains of intensively grown and particularly strong herbal cannabis are becoming increasingly common. Strains known as 'Northern lights', 'Super skunk' and 'Sensi (sensemilla)' have a far higher content of the chemical in them which causes the drugs intoxicating effect (THC or tetrahydrocannabinol).

How is Cannabis Taken?

Cannabis is most commonly smoked. It can also be taken orally, either eaten direct or mixed with food preparations, such as cakes, biscuits (hence 'hash cookies') or hot drinks. Taking Cannabis orally means that the active ingredients have to fight their way through the stomach contents before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. A smoker of Cannabis can stop smoking once he or she reaches the required level of intoxication, however when taken orally getting the dosage right is a far harder business.

General Effects of Cannabis

Effects depend largely upon the expectations, motivations and mood of the user, the amount used and the circumstances. The most common and most desired effects are talkativeness, cheerfulness, relaxation and greater appreciation of sound and colour. Whilst under the influence of Cannabis, tests have clearly proved that tasks involving concentration and manual dexterity - such as driving a car - are not performed well. Driving while under the influence of Cannabis has got be to considered dangerous and is illegal.

Not all the effects of the drug are pleasant. High doses can cause mild hallucinations and sensory distortions which could be disconcerting if unexpected. Those who use the drug when anxious or depressed may find these conditions exaggerated and the user can become more self obsessed with his or her problem. Mild panic and paranoia could then result. Nausea and vomiting can occur when an inexperienced user tries too much at once; this is far more likely if Cannabis has been used with alcohol. Short-term memory loss is reported by some users, however the main health problems stem from the method of use. Smoking any substance over a long period of time is a bad idea and frequent inhalation of Cannabis smoke can lead to bronchitis, other chest related disorders and may cause lung cancer. While Cannabis does not produce a physical dependency, mixing it with tobacco will almost certainly produce a dependency on nicotine in quite a short period of time.

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