Cannabis and its possible decriminalization, even legalization, is the subject of intense debate in France and in many countries: medical use of cannabis, increasing number of consumers (especially among adolescents), ... The subject is vast, the challenge considerable.

But in fact, what exactly is cannabis? What is the difference between cannabis, marijuana and hashish? What are the effects of cannabis on our body and on our health? And what are the risks of addiction? In our file, we take stock of cannabis and its various properties.

Cannabis: what is it?

Cannabis is extracted from a plant called Indian hemp, mainly from Central Asia and South Asia. This plant grows more readily in the sun, in warm climates.

For example, hemp is used in the textile industry: making fibers for clothing, string and ropes. But many people use Indian hemp for its euphoric properties. It is also used in medicine as medicine.

Can we be addicted to cannabis?

It is wrongly considered that cannabis is not addictogenic, referring to the term "soft drug". This is not true: among regular cannabis users there are signs of dependence, whether signs of tolerance (ie getting used to the substance and needing to take advantage of it to obtain the same effect) and withdrawal symptoms when consumption is stopped.

While physical dependence is certainly lower than for other drugs, the psychological dependence is quite real.

Cannabis is a narcotic

Although considered by many to be a soft drug because of the virtual absence of overdose, cannabis is an illicit drug in France, in particular because of its many psychotrophic effects.

Indeed, cannabis contains a substance, THC (Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which has a significant psychotropic action, that is to say an action on the psyche.

Good to know: cannabis is also produced by our body: it is called "endocannabinoids", or endogenous cannabinoids. The first endocannabinoid to be isolated and identified was anandamide, in 1990, which has a mode of action very close to THC. They are synthesized and released at the request of our organization, are quickly eliminated, and have an important role.

Grass, marijuana, hashish, shit or cannabis. Different forms of consumption!

Cannabis is named in different ways depending on its presentation with different concentrations of active ingredient (including THC):

  • Grass, weed, marijuana : the plant itself, the top of the female feet are used, directly used, including a rate of THC generally between 5 and 25% for the most concentrated.
  • Resin, hashish, shit: resin extracted from the plant, heated then crumbled to be mixed with tobacco and smoke: average content of 25 to 30% of THC
  • Oil : liquid obtained by mixing the cannabis resin with a solvent, can contain very high THC levels

The main current problem is that the products available contain increasingly important THC levels, a highly psychoactive substance.

Want to react, share your experience or ask a question? See you in our FORUM Dependencies: alcohol, cannabis, etc. or A doctor answers you!

Read also :

> Cannabis addiction
> Cannabis: a real danger or not?
> Legalization of cannabis: what are the arguments?

Authors: Dr. Nicolas Evrard, Dr. Romain Boutonné
Last updated, July 2017: Dr Boutonné

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