Cannabis and cannabinoids use

Not so innocent hemp

Cannabis is the abbreviated name for Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis indica, traditionally identified as Indian hemp, has high content of THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound, which produces the ‘high’. While most cannabis is used for fiber (hemp), the psychogenic effects of THC make it a well-known drug of abuse. Other commonly used names for cannabis are marijuana, Mary Jane, hash, hashish, grass, pot and weed. In India it is well known as bhang (dried leaves), charas (resinous extract) or ganja (flowering tops). The euphoric effects of cannabis have been known for thousands of years. Every part of the plant contains psychoactive substances.

Faces of the culprit

Usually the leaves of the plant are cut, dried, and rolled into cigarettes commonly smoked as joints. In parts of India, a special long tube coming from a burning roud chamber (hookah) is commonly used by people sitting in a group and inhaling from the mouth turn by turn; as is a common social ritual. A modification of the pipe is the ‘chillum’ frequently used for smoking ‘charas’. It is also taken orally in India during the festival of colors- ‘holi’, when it is consumed in a local sweet drink known as ‘thandai.’ Effects of oral consumption take longer to appear.

The impact

Smoking cannabis displays euphoric effects in minutes, peaking in 30 minutes, but effects may last 10 to 12 hours. Initial relaxation is followed by euphoria and increased appetite. Often it unravels introspection and metacognition, aiding people to believe they have been ‘enlightened’. Cannabis being fat soluble stays in the brain for 6 months after consumption.

It’s different

Cannabis effects of which are influenced by the
 dose, potency, smoking technique, 
 previous experience, expectations, the company in which it 
is consumed; as well as the individual vulnerability to
 cerebral effects of cannabis. Thus the effect of cannabis use can be highly unpredictable in different people as well as with the same person in different situations.


The euphoria experienced with cannabinoids 
use can lead to tremendous psychological dependence. Physical effects of cannabis are not very debilitating: mild increase in the pulse rate, redness of the eyes, dryness of the mouth and low blood pressure. Cough, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, bronchiectasis and lung cancer may occur owing to the inhalation of carcinogens along with the smoke. In select cases with innate vulnerability, cannabis can unmask anxiety neuroses and schizophrenia.

Not a blessing

The medicinal effects of cannabinoids have been recognized since the 19th and early 20th century. Recently the primary components have been tried in cancer patients to control the nausea and stimulate appetite. However, cannabis is a drug with tremendous dependence potential and its harmful effects must never be underestimated. We offer medical as well as psychotherapeutic management by following the disease model of addiction. This instills insight that helps fight dependence and promote drug free living. Substance dependence is an illness. People with diabetes, cancer and cardiac conditions do get understanding and sympathy from their loved ones; sadly this is not the case with cannabis. Here the best person who can help oneself is oneself. It makes sense to do it sooner than later.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cannabis induced psychoses?
In the early 20th century, the first ever report of abnormal behavior following cannabis use was from India. This pattern of delusions, paranoia and hallucinations caused due to cannabis consumption is well understood as cannabis induced psychoses. According to research this is like schizophrenia unmasked by cannabis use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is cannabis common in India?
In India cannabis use is culturally sanctioned on festivals and on religious occasions in several places. In some temples of North India, it is a daily ritual to smoke cannabis prior to the worship of God. This may also be related to the euphoric and metacognitive sense of enlightenment that motivates people to consume it. In no way does this undermine its toxic and abuse potential. Cannabis is a drug of abuse and the dangers of its consumption are undermined. These need to be known to all.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is cannabis consumption physically harmful?
Addictive potential of cannabis is a danger for sure. Besides that, the harm it can cause to the lungs i.e. asthma, bronchitis and cancer due to smoking are added risks. There are few dangerous effects of THC itself on the body. However with persistent use the overall health and general well being of the addict definitely gets jeopardized.