question to Frank
after Talk to Frank started, we thought we'd give it a test, so having read the
information they give a student (who is under 18) sent Frank a question:
was interested to read on your website that cannabis decreases sperm count in
men and fertility in women. This is great news as me and my girlfriend can now
get stoned and make love without bothering with condoms. How long does the contraceptive
effect of cannabis last and how many joints will we have to smoke to get the best
the urgent need to rectify such a potentially disastrous belief,
waited 3 days to reply and then did not adress the question. Here is his reply:
thankyou for your email,
What else is cannabis known as?
black, blast, blow, blunts, Bob Hope, bush, dope, draw, ganja, grass, hash, hashish,
hemp, herb, marijuana, pot, puff, Northern Lights, resin, sensi, sensemilla, shit,
skunk, smoke, soap, spliff, wacky backy, weed, zero. Some names are based on country
of origin such as Afghan, Colombian, homegrown, Lebanese, Moroccan, Pakistani
is cannabis used?
comes as a solid, dark lump known as 'resin', or crushed flower heads & small
leaves (sometimes with stalks and seeds) called 'grass'. It can also come a sticky,
dark oil. It can be rolled (usually with tobacco) in a spliff or joint, smoked
on its own in a special pipe, or cooked and eaten in food.
are the effects of cannabis?
makes you feel relaxed and, because it's a mild hallucinogen, you can find colours
and sounds brighter and sharper.
can cause anxiety, affect short-term memory and make you less able to carry out
are the risks of using cannabis?
long term heavy use, the user may feel lethargic, no drive, short term memory
loss, and if used with tobacco, coughs and sore throats.
smoking it with tobacco may lead to users becoming hooked on cigarettes
it impairs the ability to learn and concentrate
- it can leave people tired
and lacking energy
- users may lack motivation and feel apathetic
can make users paranoid and anxious, depending on their mood and situation
cannabis affect my physical health?
are a number of risks to health associated with misuse of cannabis.
affects blood pressure and increases heart rate. This can be particularly dangerous
for people with diseases of the cardiovascular system, especially those with coronary
artery disease, high blood pressure and those people atrisk of strokes.
can worsen asthma. Frequent misuse of cannabis may also decrease sperm counts
in men and suppress ovulation in women.
is most frequently smoked. Smoking in any form is harmful, and tobacco smoking
is the largest single cause of ill-health and premature death in the United Kingdom.
Smoking cannabis, therefore, presents a real health risk, potentially similar
to that of tobacco, with increased incidence of bronchitis, asthma, and lung cancer,
as well as disorders of the heart and circulation. Smoking cannabis may be more
harmful than smoking tobacco, since cannabis has a higher concentration of certain
chemicals which can cause cancer.
there risks to mental health associated with cannabis?
- using cannabis can lead to panic attacks, paranoia and confused feelings.
some cases, acute cannabis intoxication can produce a psychotic state, which may
continue for some time, and which may require treatment with prescribed drugs.
can worsen schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses, among people who already
suffer from them. The problem being that you may not be aware if you have an underlying
mental health problem.
who has a mental illness should, therefore, avoid using cannabis.
are the risks of using cannabis when pregnant?
weights of babies born to women who use cannabis during pregnancy tend to be lower
than expected. Using cannabis during pregnancy may also increase the risk of birth
defects and abortion, and, like tobacco smoking, cannabis smoking seems to increase
the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
the available information suggests that cannabis use in pregnancy is certainly
women should avoid using alcohol, tobacco or cannabis.
there any other risks associated with cannabis?
- cannabis impairs performance of tasks which require concentration and co-ordination.
It can be dangerous to drive or operate machinery when under the influence of
cannabis. The danger increases if alcohol and cannabis are both consumed.
smoking cannabis more dangerous than tobacco?
smoke from a 'joint' contains a higher content of 'nasties' than the smoke from
a cigarette and cannabis is usually smoked with tobacco. It is possible to eat
cannabis or smoke it on its own, or bake it in a cake.
it possible to become "hooked" on cannabis?
is a minimal risk of physical dependence. Psychological dependency can occur very
tobacco with cannabis may produce dependence on nicotine.
will I feel if I stop taking cannabis?
are no physical withdrawal symptoms (unless you have become addicted
and if you have only been using for a short time there should be no problem stopping.
If you have been using for a long time, there could be psychological symptoms
and counselling may be helpful. Your local drug agency may be able to offer advice
I overdose on cannabis?
chance of overdosing on cannabis is very unlikely, although large doses may lead
to unpleasant side effects such as anxiety, panic attacks and paranoia. These
are more likely to occur with stronger strains or if large amounts are eaten.
is the legal status of cannabis?
is usually a Class B drug. Possession of cannabis is punishable by up to 5 years
imprisonment and an unlimited fine. Supplying cannabis (which includes passing
a joint to a friend) is punishable by 14 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
the Government is proposing to reduce the penalties for the possession of cannabis,
it will remain a criminal offence leading to a possible fine or imprisonment..
have heard that cannabis has been 'reclassified' - what does this mean?
classification of drugs is set out in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (which applies
across the UK). Classification is based on the harm which individual drugs may
cause, including risks to physical and mental health, withdrawal reactions (ie
the effects on users when they stop using drugs, or reduce their consumption),
and the harm which misuse may bring to families and society at large.
A covers the most harmful drugs such as heroin and cocaine, Class B includes amphetamines
and barbiturates, and Class C contains drugs such as anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines
and growth hormones. The Home Secretary's decision means that cannabis will be
shifted from Class B to Class C, when the necessary change to the legislation
has been made.
reclassification mean that cannabis is harmless?
- all drugs are potentially harmful, and cannabis is no exception.
just means that the harm associated with cannabis is considered to be relatively
less severe than that associated with other drugs currently contained in Class
this mean that cannabis has been legalised?
- possession of cannabis for personal use or the supply of cannabis to another
or possession of cannabis with the intention of supplying it to another remain
Home Secretary has announced his intention to increase, to 14 years, the maximum
prison sentence for supplying Class C drugs, or possession with the intention
of supplying them to another. The present maximum prison sentence for simply possessing
cannabis will be reduced from 5 years to 2 years, when cannabis is reclassified
to Class C. Fines and other non-custodial sentences can also be imposed in addition
to prison sentences.
is also illegal for the occupier or any person concerned in the management of
premises to (a) allow a person to produce or attempt to produce cannabis there;
or (b) to allow a person to supply or attempt to supply or offer to supply cannabis
there, or (c) to allow the smoking of cannabis while there.
it true that people can no longer be arrested for possessing cannabis?
police have powers to arrest, where they have grounds for concluding an offence
has been committed, which may be used depending on the circumstances of the case.
you are apprehended by the police and found to be in possession of cannabis, the
drug will be seized as evidence in all cases, and you may be charged with the
about people who intend to set up cannabis cafés?
trying to establish a cannabis café risks imprisonment or a heavy fine
or both. Supply of cannabis will remain a criminal offence, and those who sell
it to others risk severe penalties. It is also an offence for occupiers or managers
of premises to allow smoking or supply, or attempting to supply, or offering to
supply, cannabis on their premises. Reclassification of cannabis makes no difference
to this position.
reclassification make any difference to those people who use cannabis to relieve
- the possession of cannabis remains a criminal offence. Use of cannabis for pain
relief is no defence..
is happening about developing legal cannabis-based medicines?
Government is already exploring whether cannabis-based medicines can help as a
form of pain relief. Scientific and clinical tests are well advanced, and the
Home Secretary has made it clear that he is willing to change the law to allow
cannabis-based medicines if these tests prove to be successful. It is possible
that new cannabis-based medicines could be available early in 2004.
if I am stopped by the police while driving, and found to have cannabis in my
like other illegal substances and some legally obtainable drugs, greatly impairs
the ability to drive safely. This puts other road users at risk.
sentences, heavy fines and disqualification from driving can be imposed if you
are convicted of being unfit to drive or unfit to be in charge of a vehicle due
to taking illegal drugs.
roadside tests (known as Field Impairment Tests) are being carried out by the
police to help determine whether motorists are unfit to drive through taking drugs.
A suspect will be examined by a doctor and police may also require the suspect
to provide a blood or urine sample which can be analysed to detect the presence