How long has marijuana been grown?

Drug lexicon

cannabis

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The cannabis plant

The cannabis plant belongs to the botanical Genus of the hemp family (Cannabaceae) with psychoactive ingredients. The strongest active ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The plant contains at least 60 different cannabinoids, some of which are psychoactive. There is a female and a male form of the plant, rarely hermaphroditic variants. Only the female form of the genus "Cannabis sativa" contains enough THC to induce a high.

history

Cannabis is one of the oldest known useful and medicinal plants. In China, hemp was already used in the early 3rd millennium BC. Cultivated and used for the production of clothes and ropes. Since around 2000 BC It is also used as a remedy.

The hemp plant is said to have reached the Middle East via India and finally spread across Europe to North and South America. As Intoxicants cannabis first established itself in India as part of cultic acts. In Europe, the intoxicating effects of cannabis did not become known until the 19th century. In Germany and many other western industrialized nations, cannabis has become the most commonly consumed intoxicant after alcohol since the 1970s.

Cannabis cultivation

Farmers appreciate the cannabis plant for its frugality. It grows on a wide variety of soils in almost all regions of the world. This property of the plant is also used by illegal drug producers. Traditionally, the most important cultivation areas are in Africa (Morocco, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal), America (USA, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica), in the Middle and Near East (Turkey, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan) and in South and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Nepal, India, Cambodia).

For the European market, Morocco is the main growing area. About 70 to 80 percent of the cannabis traded in Europe comes from the North African country. In recent years, however, cannabis cultivation has become increasingly important in European countries.

In Germany, cannabis has been grown increasingly in so-called indoor facilities in recent years. By optimizing the growing conditions, cannabis plants are used that have a higher crop yield and THC content than traditional outdoor cultivation.

Cannabis use

Cannabis is mostly consumed in the form of marijuana (dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant) or hashish (from the resin of the inflorescences), rarely as hashish oil (concentrated extract of the cannabis resin).

The most common form of consumption is the smoking of joints (colloquially "weed"). The crumbled hashish or marijuana is usually mixed with tobacco and rolled into a cigarette. In addition, cannabis products are smoked through different types of pipes (pure and water pipes), which sometimes result in a significant intensification of the intoxication experience. Occasionally cannabis products are drunk dissolved in tea or baked in cookies ("spacecakes") and eaten.

pharmacology

The pharmacological effects of cannabinoids are not yet fully understood. It was not discovered until 1988 the body's own cannabinoid receptors in the brain (CB1) and a little later in the periphery of the body (CB2). Much of the effects of cannabis are attributed to the receptors found. Research is still going on to decipher the complex mode of action of cannabis.

In contrast to alcohol, for example, it takes time Dismantling of THC significantly longer than the effects last. Because THC has a high solubility in fat and is accordingly easily deposited in fatty tissue. Half-lives of up to 7 days are found in the research literature. Cannabinoids and their metabolites (degradation products) can be detected in urine for an average of 30 days, in chronic users significantly longer (see also Detectability of cannabis).

According to reports, the Active ingredient content of marijuana increased many times over in recent years. This appears to be the case for certain highly bred indoor cultivars. Most of the marijuana and hashish traded in Germany, however, is imported. Analyzes of confiscated samples indicate that the active ingredient content also fluctuates widely and can vary depending on the growing area, method and processing.

effect

The time of the onset of action depends on the form of consumption. When smoked, the effect usually sets in immediately, as the active ingredient is absorbed very quickly through the airways and crosses the blood-brain barrier. The effect reaches its maximum after about 15 minutes, subsides slowly after 30 to 60 minutes and is largely over after 2 to 3 hours. The THC is absorbed more slowly when eaten or drunk. However, the effect is more unpredictable as it is delayed and often starts very suddenly. It is crucial how much and what you have eaten beforehand.

The spectrum of effects of cannabis is very broad and depends on various factors. Depending on the type of consumption (smoked, eaten), the amount of active ingredient ingested, the consumption situation, but also the basic mood and the psychological stability of the consumer, Cannabis works differently.

One of the pleasant effects of cannabis is an increase in mood. Often there is a feeling of relaxation and well-being. A cheerful feeling is also possible, combined with an increased need for communication. Acoustic and visual sensory perception can be intensified.

The effects that are experienced as unpleasant include a depressed mood, psychomotor agitation, restlessness and fear. Panic reactions and confusion with persecution fantasies up to paranoid delusions are also possible. Panic reactions are more common in relatively inexperienced and unprepared users who are unfamiliar with the psychological effects of drugs. Fear and feelings of panic can, however, also occur for the first time in experienced users.

Long-term consequences

Cannabis is the most frequently used illegal drug in Germany, especially among adolescents and young adults. Most of them use it occasionally or stop using it after a short period of time. However, some of them consume regularly over several years. This raises the question of the long-term consequences. The most important research findings are summarized below.

brain
The question of possible brain damage from cannabis use has occupied research since the 1970s. In summary, it can be said that, according to the current state of research, no substantial brain damage can be assumed. However, brain performance suffers with increasing duration and intensity of consumption. This is in good shape with regular consumers poorer learning and memory performance noticeable. But those who stop smoking weed are rewarded with rapidly improving brain performance. It is currently not scientifically clear whether there are still minor impairments that can be traced back to permanent brain damage.

However, there is convincing evidence that the early entry into consumption results in lasting impairment of cognitive performance. There is more about this in the top topic "Smoking pot is on the brain".

respiratory tract
In principle, all inhaled foreign substances pollute the airways. On the question of whether smoking cannabis leads to increased respiratory diseases, there is still no clear evidence. In some studies, heavy cannabis smokers found an increased incidence of bronchitis and inflammation of the nasal and throat mucous membranes. However, it is unclear whether these consequences can be attributed to inhaled tobacco smoke. The results of a longitudinal study indicate that, even with longstanding cannabis smoking, there are hardly any restrictions in lung capacity to be expected. Tobacco smoking, on the other hand, leads to reduced lung capacity after a short time.

In principle, it can be assumed that cannabis smoke contains roughly the same amount of tar, i.e. pollutants, as tobacco smoke. Unequivocal evidence that smoking cannabis is actually increasing Cancers leads, however, is still pending. However, when cannabis is mixed with tobacco, cannabis users face the same risks as with tobacco smoking. It is considered certain that Hookahs do not reduce this riskbecause they do not - as is often assumed - purify the smoke, but simply cool it down.

pregnancy
Studies of the effects of maternal cannabis use on the level of development, i.e. the size and weight of the newborns, have so far come to contradicting findings. Due to the important function of the body's own cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) for the Brain development However, pregnancy is considered a sensitive phase. Studies on this, however, do not provide a clear picture. This can also be related to methodological problems, since effects can only be determined years after birth and in the meantime a variety of other influences can influence cognitive development. As a precautionary measure, pregnant women are nevertheless advised to refrain from cannabis, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs.

Hormonal and immune systems
Research so far has no clear evidence of the influence of cannabis on that Hormonal and immune systems provided. Some studies have found indications that sexual function is reduced in men and the menstrual cycle is disrupted in women. Study results also indicate that in men, the concentration and motility of sperm decreases as consumption increases. However, it has not yet been established whether this actually leads to permanent sterility in men.

Overall, the results indicate that these effects seem to be reversible, i.e. normalize again after a period of abstinence from consumption. However, it cannot be ruled out that an altered hormone level can lead to delayed development in puberty.

Cardiovascular system
Possible effects on the cardiovascular system have only recently been explored. Previous study results insert increased risk of heart attack during the first hour after consuming cannabis because cannabis can increase heart rate. In previously exposed people, this can lead to life-threatening overstrain of the heart. However, further studies are necessary to assess the actual risks.

Addiction
With long-term consumption, psychological dependence can develop. Those affected have the feeling that they can no longer "get along" without cannabis. Contrary to what was previously assumed, withdrawal symptoms can also show up after a phase of long-term use if consumption is (temporarily) stopped or reduced. From this it can be concluded that there is also a physical component of addiction can develop. Although this is not as pronounced as in the case of alcohol or heroin addiction, for example, it can still be very unpleasant and lead to consumption being resumed.

However, the risk of becoming dependent is not the same for all cannabis users. Depending on the extent to which psycho-social risk factors are present, a person may be more or less at risk of developing an addiction. It is assumed that psychological problems such as depression or symptoms of anxiety increase the risk of misusing cannabis in the sense of “self-medication”. Thus, in many cases, the “real” problem does not lie in the addiction, but in the basic psychological problem. Then smoking weed becomes a “crutch” to cope with everyday life.

psychosis
Many studies have discussed the question of whether cannabis can cause permanent psychosis. Although it has not yet been proven beyond doubt, there is increasing evidence in research that although there is no independent cannabis psychosis, cannabis can trigger a previously hidden schizophrenia. In this context, the so-called Vulnerability-Stress Model spoken. On the one hand, some people have a genetic susceptibility (vulnerability) to schizophrenia. On the other hand, external factors, also known as stressors, can bring the proverbial barrel to overflowing with an already existing susceptibility, i.e. trigger a psychosis. In this sense, cannabis is considered a potential stress factor for the brain. . This is supported by the fact that the risk of psychosis increases with the intensity of consumption. The risk of psychosis seems to be particularly high in people who prefer to consume highly potent cannabis strains. A detailed description of the topic and an interview with an expert can be found in the key topic “Does cannabis cause schizophrenia?”.

motivation
For a time, experts discussed whether cannabis creates a permanent and irreversible demotivated state in addition to its acute effects. The term amotivation syndrome was coined for this. According to current scientific knowledge, this assumption is considered to be refuted.

Driving ability

The acute effects of cannabis lead directly to a loss of performance in terms of perception, attention and the ability to react. Tests in simulators have shown that, especially in the first hour of consumption, fitness to drive and fly is restricted. On the other hand, some studies with accident data have provided partially contradicting results. However, two meta-analyzes from 2011 and 2012 suggest that Cannabis users are about twice as likely to be involved in an accident, as sober drivers. In fatal accidents in particular, the THC content in the blood of those affected was usually higher than in non-fatal accidents.

Unlike alcohol, there are (still) no limit values ​​for cannabis in the Road Traffic Act (StVG). The legislature stipulates that, in principle, even the slightest evidence of cannabis and other illegal drugs is sufficient for an administrative offense (§ 24a StVG). The problem: THC can still be detected in blood and urine days or weeks after it was last consumed.

Regardless of this, the driver's license offices investigate all reported suspected cases and usually withdraw the driver's license immediately. Those affected are usually asked to undergo a medical-psychological examination (MPU, better known as an "idiot test") to prove that they are drug-free. Because of the long detection times of cannabis, this can be tedious. Those affected have to bear the costs of the examination themselves. Penalties for violating the Narcotics Act are also threatened.

However, the case law can be very different depending on the individual case, which is why no generally valid statements can be made about the consequences for driver license holders. In this context, the Federal Constitutional Court passed an important judgment on December 21, 2004, according to which not all evidence is sufficient to question the driver's ability to drive.

Legal

Since the Opium Act was passed in the German Reichstag in 1929, cannabis has been subject to strict controls in Germany. The Opium Act was replaced in 1971 by the Narcotics Act (BtMG), which regulates all legal questions in connection with narcotics (psychoactive substances).

The following applies to cannabis: The possession, trading and cultivation of cannabis is prohibited. However, in a much-discussed ruling in 1994, the Federal Constitutional Court created the option to dispense with a penalty and discontinue the proceedings if the amount is small. How much is a small amount, however, has not been specified, but can vary depending on the federal state. There are, however, efforts to raise the limit value for a small amount 6 grams Unify hashish or cannabis.

Since March 2017, cannabis flowers or cannabis extract can be prescribed as medicine to seriously ill patients. The prescription is given by a doctor. The cannabis medicinal product is available to patients in a pharmacy. The use of cannabis as medicine has proven to be helpful in pain management and certain chronic diseases, for example. The costs for the treatment are covered by the statutory health insurance.

Up to now there has only been a prescription option for the finished drugs Sativex®, Canemes® and the prescription drug Dronabinol. The trade in and possession of cannabis without a prescription remain prohibited.


Information as of December 2019

 


All entries in the drug lexicon for the letter "C"