Most people have their own opinion on whether or not Cannabis should be legalised but the reasons behind these opinions are not always correct and justifiable. Cannabis is now a class C drug after it was dropped from being a class B in 2004. It is illegal to have, give away or deal in Class C drugs, and to grow cannabis plants. The maximum penalties for being in possession is 2 years in jail plus an unlimited fine, for supplying or dealing cannabis you can get 14 years in jail plus an unlimited fine and if you are caught in possession with intent to supply cannabis you could get up to 14 years in jail plus an unlimited fine.

Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in the UK, with up to 3 million consumers per year. It is most commonly smoked, usually by mixing it with tobacco and rolling it up with cigarette papers into a cannabis cigarette (called a ‘spliff’, ‘joint’, ‘jay’ etc.). However, it can also be smoked with or without tobacco in various forms of pipes or smoking devices such as ‘bongs’ or ‘water pipes’. Smoking Cannabis produces fairly instant intoxication, the effects lasting from 1 to 3 hours depending on the strength of the drug and the amount used.

Cannabis 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 are absorbed slowly into the bloodstream and take an hour or two to produce their strongest effect, which may then last for 2 to 6 hours, again depending on strength and amount ingested.

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The effects of cannabis depend upon the amount used, its strength, the circumstances and the expectations of the user (this is because the effects of using cannabis are also physiologically, not physically, altering the way you think). The most common effects are talkativeness, cheerfulness, relaxation and greater appreciation of sound and colour. Cannabis users frequently report an enhanced performance for tasks involving creativity (art, music etc.), although no scientific evidence indicates that the drug improves hearing, eyesight or skin sensitivity. Many users also experience a compulsion for binge eating.

Some immediate physical effects of cannabis use include a faster heartbeat and pulse rate, bloodshot eyes, and a dry mouth and throat. Studies of cannabis’s mental effects show that the drug can impair or reduce short-term memory, alter sense of time and reduce the ability to do things which require concentration, quick reactions and co-ordination.

A common bad reaction to marijuana is an sharp spell of anxiety. People describe this reaction as a fear of “losing control”, which causes panic. The symptoms usually disappear in a few hours. High doses of cannabis can cause hallucinations and sensory changes which can be very scary.

The government spend around �1.5 billion on tackling drugs, 10,034 people employed as drug professionals, up 40% since March 2002. The average waiting time for treatment is 2.5 weeks, which is down by three quarters since 2002. Among 11-15 year olds The use of any drug had decreased, 19% of pupils had taken drugs in 2005, compared to 21% in 2003. Cannabis use had decreased, 12% of pupils had used cannabis in 2005, down from 13% in 2003, 2002 and 2001.

As you can see from the figures above cannabis is already used by a large amount of people even though it is illegal. In my research I have looked at figures about cannabis use. I felt during my research that even if cannabis was legalised in the UK it would not mean that any great number of people would start to use it. It looks to me that those people who want to use it as a recreational drug already do although it’s a punishable offense.

There is no conclusive evidence at present that use of cannabis over a long period of time causes lasting damage to physical or mental health. However, some studies conducted recently have found that prolonged use of cannabis does cause physical damage to the brain and short-term memory loss in several circumstances. A long-term health risk comes from the common method of using cannabis. Smoking any substance over a long period of time has been proved to be a bad idea and frequent inhalation of cannabis smoke can lead to ‘bronchitis’ or other chest related illnesses. It also may be a lead to lung cancer. The main mind-altering ingredient in cannabis is ‘THC’ (delta-9-etrahydrocannabinol), but more than 400 other chemicals are present in the plant.

Some women have found that heavy cannabis use can make their periods irregular, whilst cannabis smoked with tobacco during pregnancy produces the same risks to the mother and child as smoking cigarettes.

The fact that cannabis use does not represent an immediate serious risk to a persons health does not make this a harmless drug, although many people use it because they believe it is harmless.

Cannabis is a ‘Central Nervous System depressant’ obtained from the plant ‘Cannabis sativa’, which grows in many parts of the world. It is available for use as a drug in three main forms: as the dried leaves and buds, known as grass or marijuana, as a solid resin (hashish or hash) which is collected from the buds and flower heads, and also as a thick liquid prepared from the flowers or resin (hash oil).

Although the plant has these affects, the plant can be used in medicine when properly prepared. It has been used as a herbal medicine in many countries of the world for a long time. It has been used as a mild sedative or painkiller and for treatment of ‘insomnia’ and gastric upsets. In the UK it was legally prescribed up until 1928. The beneficial effects of cannabis as a mild ‘analgesic’ and sedative which may relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, hypoglycaemia and other disorders. In some cases it has found use as a medication for the terminally ill, where other treatments have not relieved distress. Its possession or use in the UK is illegal, so doctors are not able to prescribe cannabis in any form to their patients.

Cannabis has no physically addictive chemicals but as with many other drugs, including alcohol, some cannabis users do develop a psychological dependence on the drug. They may have difficulty limiting their cannabis use or they may need more of the drug to get the same effect that they got when they first used the drug, the body gets more used to the effects of cannabis so the user doesn’t feel them as much. It has been now for the users of cannabis to develop problems with their jobs and relationships that are direct to their drug use. Obtaining and using the drug can become an important aspect of their lives.

Cannabis has been known to lead on to use of other drugs, including those that are physically addictive and of a higher class rating. It has been researched that among teenagers, those who smoke cigarettes are more likely to drink alcohol. Those who smoke and drink are more likely to use cannabis. And those who use all three are more likely to use other illegal drugs. Long-term studies show that use of other illegal drugs among the young almost never occurs unless they have first used cannabis. Using cannabis places teenagers in the company and shadow of those who use and deal in other illegal drugs and may encourage other dangerous and illegal activities.

In conclusion, I believe that if people want to ruin their lives by taking drugs, thats up to them and it’s their own problem. However they should only be allowed to take them if they don’t take the drug in public and so they don’t promote drug taking in anyway. Instead of the drug beginning illegal, perhaps the taking of the drug should be relaxed and not frowned to badly upon. I can see through my research no clear indication of the drug, cannabis, being able to ruin the takers life. It appears to me that the drug only leads you into trouble because of it being banned, because the drug is illegal it leads to the taker taking drastic actions to get hold of the drug. Theft, prostitution and gang crime are all way that drug takers get the money to pay for their drug.

Perhaps if the drug was available from a pharmacist it would make the drug lose its hype and reputation of being a teenage rebels drug. If the family of the taker or the taker brought the drug, the quantity of the drug taken could be measured and controlled properly. The government could also put a large tax on cannabis therefore helping others through paying money to the government which the government can then in turn use to improve the lives of everyone.

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