What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is the name given to the common drug of abuse, made from various parts of the Cannabis Sativa plant that contain a high level of a chemical called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the most psychoactive component of the plant that acts on the brain to alter the way in which a person may behave or react to external stimulate, effecting the ‘high’ for which it is abused. Strains of Cannabis Sativa are specifically bred for their high THC content in resinous glands on their flowers and some leaves.
Effects on the human body
Effects from smoking cannabis products are felt within minutes and reach their peak in 10-30 minutes. Typical cannabis smokers experience a high that lasts approximately 2 – 4 hours, although some investigators have demonstrated residual effects in specific behaviors up to 24 hours, such as complex divided attention tasks.
Effects of cannabis use can vary by dosage. At low doses, some typical symptoms may include euphoria, peacefulness, relaxation, drowsiness and general feelings of well-being. Anxiety or panic reactions may also occur at low doses.
Higher doses can result in altered perception of time, reduced attention span and memory, thought processes and mental perception may be altered. Large doses may result in symptoms similar to the use of psychedelics where panic, confusion and mild hallucinations may occur.
At very high doses, acute depressive reactions, acute panic reactions and mild paranoia (psychosis) are reported to have been observed.
Like most other drugs of abuse, individuals who use cannabis for long periods of time can develop a dependence on it.
Regular and chronic marijuana smokers may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers have (daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis), as the amount of tar inhaled and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed by marijuana smokers is 3 to 5 times greater than among tobacco smokers.
Cannabis in the workplace
The short-term effects of cannabis use include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception, difficultly in thinking and problem-solving, and loss of hand-eye coordination and balance. Heavy users may have increased difficulty sustaining attention, shifting attention to meet the demands of changes in the environment, and in registering, processing and using information. Decision times to evaluate situations and determine appropriate responses increase.
Significant performance impairments are usually observed for at least 1-2 hours following cannabis use, and residual effects have been reported up to 24 hours.
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