Marijuana, the Indian hemp plant, Cannabis Sativa (Cannabis), is a drug composed of leaves and flowers. It is usually dried and crushed and put into pipes or formed into cigarettes (“joints” or “blunts”) for smoking. The drug, known by a variety of other names, including pot, trees, grass, bud, and weed, can also be added to foods and beverages. Marijuana varies in potency, depending on where and how it is grown, prepared for use, or stored.
Cannabis is the only plant that produces chemicals known as Cannabinoids. These cannabinoids are psychoactive and are responsible for the various effects of marijuana. Not all, but many cannabinoids get you high.
The most important cannabinoid and active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is present in all parts of both the male and female plants but is most concentrated in the resin (cannabin) in the flowering tops of the female. Hashish, a more powerful form of the drug, is made by collecting and drying this resin and is about eight times as strong as the marijuana typically smoked in the United States. Dried flower tops (buds) of potent marijuana can contain up to 25% THC.
Mentioned in a Chinese herbal documents dating from 2700 BC, marijuana long has been considered valuable as an analgesic, an anesthetic, an antidepressant, an antibiotic, and a sedative. Although it was usually used externally (e.g., as a balm or smoked), in the 19th century its tips were sometimes administered internally to treat gonorrhea and angina pectoris.
The effect that cannabis has on the user depends on the strength, how often it’s smoked, how recently it was smoked and how the body naturally reacts to the “drug.”
Positive Effects of Marijuana:
- Mood lift.
- Relaxation, stress reduction, calming.
- Creative, philosophical or deep thinking…ideas flow more easily and tends to be more creative when under the influence.
- Increased appreciation of music.
- Increased awareness of senses (tasting, feeling, smell.)
- Change in experience of muscle fatigue. Pleasant body feel. Increase in body/mind connection.
- Pain relief (headaches, cramps, and various others.)
- Reduced nausea (also used medicinally for this purpose.)
- Much more…
Neutral Effects of Marijuana:
- Increased appetite; “munchies”.
- General change in consciousness (as with many psychoactives.)
- Blood shot red eyes (more common with certain varieties of cannabis and inexperienced users.)
- Mouth dryness aka “Cotton mouth”.
- Temporarily interrupts linear memory.
- Difficulty following a train of thought, can become slightly A.D.D.
- Cheek, jaw, facial tension (less commonly reported.)
Negative Effects of Marijuana:
- Coughing, asthma, upper respiratory problems.
- Difficulty with short-term memory during effects and during periods of heavy frequent use.
- Slowness and delayed reactions, especially dangerous when driving or operating machinery.
- Racing heart, agitation, and tenseness.
- Mild to severe anxiety.
- Panic attacks at very high doses (usually oral) or in sensitive users.
- Dizziness, confusion, vomiting.
- Possible psychological dependence development on cannabis.
- “Mild” withdrawal symptoms occur after daily use in some users. These may last for 1-6 weeks after cessation of use and can include anxiety, anhedonia (reduced experience of pleasure), headaches, general unease/discomfort, difficulty sleeping, and a strong desire to smoke pot.
There are various ways to make use of marijuana…
Smoking/Inhaling: Burning or vaporizing cannabis and inhaling the smoke into the lungs is the fastest route to the blood stream. Conventional wisdom is that holding in the smoke increases the effects felt. Recent research shows the opposite; it causes more harm to the lungs without increasing the amount of THC absorbed. Studies done in Australia indicate that 95% of the THC in cannabis is absorbed in the first few seconds of inhaling. Holding in the smoke longer just allows more tar and other noxious chemicals to be absorbed. Many ganja professionals recommend you to take small, shallow puffs rather than deep inhalations. Irritation of the throat and lungs is one of the most obvious adverse effects to the marijuana smoker as is the inevitable cough upon inhaling. The cough is the body’s reaction to the irritation of the numerous constituents of the smoke. Prolonged and repeated exposure to these irritants can lower resistance to, and aggravate infections from viruses, bacteria, or fungi. The lesser coughing, the safer the smoke. The fewer puffs the better; the more potent the cannabis used is the fewer puff s required. For these reasons, it is preferable to use only the more potent flower tops, or high grade hash for smoking use.
Despite the obvious minor dangers of inhaling hot smoke, there is evidence that in some cases (ie. asthma) smoking could be a beneficial medical use of cannabis. Another advantage of smoking is that it allows the user to control their dosage better as the effects are almost immediate, unlike when eating, or using THC in pill or spray form.
In general however, smoking is not the best way to take cannabis, especially for pain, being a less efficient use of the herb than eating. However, many medical users find they appreciate the immediate and pleasurable effects of smoking cannabis and the harm of smoking can be reduced in various ways. One alternative to inhaling smoke is to release the THC through Vaporization; inhaling vapor rather than smoke, see vaporization.
Pipes and Bongs: Many ingeniously designed products are on the market that claim to offer a cooler smoke but they are not all safe or efficient to use. Avoid wood, aluminum or plastic materials. Use glass, stainless steel or brass pipes and bongs.
Joints: Smoking cannabis in ‘joints’ is one of the least harmful ways of smoking. A loose, fat joint is preferable to a thin one because the temperature of the smoke is lower in a thick joint. Mixing cannabis with tobacco counteracts the positive effects of THC. Some research suggests that Cannabis may actually off set some of the harmful effects of tobacco but there is also evidence that the relaxing effects of cannabis on the lungs allows the toxins in tobacco to get in deeper. There is evidence that a thin joint gives a more stimulating “high”, while a fat joint has a more sedative effect (due to the different burn temperature in “fat” vs “thin” joints). If you’re concerned about your long-term health, avoid rolling papers with “strawberry” tasting chemicals and the like, “rainbow colors” and any use of colored artificial inks & dyes.
Water Pipes: Recent research suggests that water pipes aren’t the most efficient methods of smoking cannabis, but they are a healthier option. The problem with efficiency is because water absorbs a great deal of the THC in the smoke (up to 50%!), increasing the amount of tar the smoker must ingest to get the desired result. Using a water pipe with a mouthpiece less than 20cm from the water level can allow water vapor and water drops to enter the lungs, which isn’t a problem as long as you regularly clean out your bong water.
Vaporization: Using a vaporizer which heats but does not burn the cannabis, is an alternative to smoking. The process involves releasing the THC as vapor which is inhaled rather than smoke. The effect is “clearer” and it is far more economical and reduces the exposure of the throat and lungs to products of burning. Vaporization works because THC, the active ingredient of cannabis, is a resin that vaporizes at a lower combustion (burning) point than cellulose.
You can make your own vaporizer very cheaply or buy various types starting at around $25 up to $300+ for the “hospital standard” and “Volcano”. High heat destroys some of the THC molecules in smoked cannabis (estimates may vary.) Vaporizers heat them more gently; the THC molecules decarboxylate and evaporate in a whitish vapor. The main problem with vaporizers is with correct use. Many users tend to overheat and consequently burn the stuff. They are now “smoking” not “vaporizing” the cannabis, often without realizing – and just as many toxic tars are released as smoking in a pipe which defeats the point.
Vaporizers sometimes fail to satisfy longtime recreational smokers who associate burning lungs with getting high. They distrust the incredibly smooth taste of the vapors, and they don’t like waiting 20 seconds to 1 minute for each hit. However they always like the fact that their supply seems to last up to four times as long because vaporization wastes so little of the active ingredients lost through smoking. Some regular users of vaporizers have complained that they produce a fine dust along with the vapor. This can’t be good and they should maybe be fitted with a filter system but vaporizers are still the safest way to consume cannabis using heat.
Eating or Drinking: Simply sucking a small piece of hashish or eating cannabis baked into a cake, mixed in with a drink or any other delicious food you can think of is a very effective and economical method of using cannabis. The effects take up to an hour and last around 4-12 hours. A minor “Overdose” is possible by eating too much. This could result in an unpleasant nauseous feeling but no lasting physical damage will result. If in doubt slowly sample the dose; experiment with just a little, and then add a little more. More worrying are the dangers of adulteration and infection encouraged by the unregulated trade in cannabis. These include smuggling methods and profiteering practices which can make eating the resulting product totally undesirable, with questionable effects. In general avoid eating most hash especially “Soap Bar” and “Manali” or “Squiggie” black. Eating Hemp seeds or their oil (which have no THC content) is a very valuable and rich source of nutrition; a quality which can have considerable medical value and contribute to general well being.
Tinctures: The active ingredients of the plant are extracted as oil and can then be used either as drops taken orally, or the ingredient for creams and lotions to be rubbed on the skin to relieve pain and other symptoms, as well as used inside of extremely rare & ultra-dank recipes.
Creams and Lotions: Applied on the skin to treat complaints ranging from muscle pain and/or tremors to aching. You can make these yourself. The simplest way to do this it to put leaves and buds of cannabis into a bottle filled with surgical alcohol available from any chemist, or online. Leave in a dark place for 1-3 weeks, shaking every day or as often as possible, and then use it to rub on any area suffering from pain.
What Gets You High
The main factors in determining the quality and intensity of the high are the amount, and the ratio of cannabinoids present in your bud. Cannabinoids are what are responsible for getting that sensational soaring high out of your buds. Currently there are more than 40 known cannabinoids, but most of these occur in very tiny amounts and aren’t important to the quality of the high. The cannabinoids that are found in the greatest quantity and have the most influence on your bud’s high are THC, CBN THCV, and CBC.
THC (TetraHydroCannabinol) is the main psychoactive ingredient In marijuana. It accounts for most of the high. THC occurs in all varieties of cannabis. CBD (Cannabidiol) occurs in almost all cannabis varieties in quantities that range from trace amounts to 95 percent of all cannabinoids present. In its pure form CBD is not psychoactive, but it does have sedative, antibiotic, and analgesic qualities. CBD contributes to the high by interacting with THC to potentiate or antagonize certain qualities of the high. In general, it potentiates the depressant effects and antagonizes the euphoric effects. CBD is also known for delaying the onset of the high, but makes it last much longer. So THC-CBD ratios are very important when considering the effects of your high. Keep in mind that the ratios of cannabinoids found in different varieties of cannabis plants also tend to vary greatly.
THC is the active psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets a user high. Without it, or in extremely low amounts – you don’t get high. All plant’s THC levels vary greatly. Some plants can have THC levels of 100%, yet the quantity of the THC isn’t high so it’s less potent. On the other hand, some plants may only have 50% THC, but the levels will be very high. A good potent plant (one I intend to teach you how to grow using this book) will have both high levels and quantities of THC cannabinoids present.
The key difference between THC levels and THC quantities is that THC levels are genetically predetermined. This means that they are not under the influence of the grower. THC quantities though are in fact controllable by the grower. When growing weed, the THC quantities are basically bud mass and how much resin can be generated.
To determine how potent a plant is when examining strains check for the THC levels to determine the potential potency of the plant. Nowadays many seedbanks clearly and accurately state their strains’ legitimate THC levels, but there are also a lot of shady seed dealers out there too who over-exaggerate their THC levels (read on to find out about some recommended reputable seed suppliers).
CBD is what amplifies certain effects of THC and depresses others. CBD is an isomer of THC, which means they share the same molecular formula, but have different structural formulas. Basically they are made up of the exact same molecules, except that the molecules are connected in different orders.
CBD by itself has no psychoactive properties (CBD by itself does not get you high), however it does regulate the euphoric effect of THC and gives it more of a sedative effect (more of a “chill” high). Cannabis often has a high CBD content (as much or more than 40% CBD in most Cannabis extracts.)
High THC and low CBD produce a strong clear headed, more energetic high. Low THC and high CBD produces a stoned lethargic feeling, a heavy sluggish tired body and a dull feeling mind. High levels of both THC and CBD produces a strong, almost dreamlike high. It’s ineffable.
To sum things up, if you want a more energetic high, you want more THC and less CBD. Usually Sativa and Sativa-dominant hybrids have more THC and less CBD. If you want a more relaxed high, then of course your want more CBD, usually found in Indica and Indica-dominant hybrids. But remember CBD on its own does nothing; it only regulates effects of the THC high. So regardless if you want a high THC content, the difference is the ratio of CBD to THC.
Marijuana is just like any other plant that is grown. It needs a combination of proper abundant light, warm CO2 rich air, pure water, and sufficient nutrients in the grow medium to ensure vigorous growth. When these conditions are optimum, your harvest is optimum. Of course there are more factors to take into consideration, but for right now, these are the basics you need to understand.
The end goal is to grow a non-pollinated female plant (known as “Sinsemilla”), that is flowering and producing lots and lots of buds with sticky resin glands (that contain high levels and amounts of THC) aka “dank potent big frosty buds” that will provide a sensational smoke. Weed is always grown from the female plant, because the male does not produce flowers (buds). Another crucial part of growing is to properly clean, cure, and process the plants so that enables you to enjoy the full flavor, aromatic smell, potency, and taste of the plant.