You are in Activism / Government on drugs

Talk to Frank logo

Talk to Frank says

"If only illegal drugs came in packets with instructions on the outside.
We'd all know exactly what the drug would do, how much is too much and what
other drugs are to be avoided at the same time.

Unfortunately they don't. And while it's relatively easy to find out about
the various effects of illegal drugs it's less easy to find out about safe
amounts or dangerous combinations".

From the Talk to Frank "Mixing it" section

The new government anti-drugs campaign is called "Talk to Frank". The stated idea is to give honest believable information about drugs. We are told that the old "just say no" approach has been dropped and Frank will give honest information which people can believe.

Read the UKCIA open letter to Frank - click here

So how good is Frank? This is what Frank has to say about cannabis and what UKCIA has to say about the information.:

Frank says
UKCIA comments
The most widely used illegal drug in Britain. It's a naturally occurring drug made from parts of the cannabis plant. It's a sedative and mild hallucinogen that makes some people feel chilled out and others feel sick. It's not very expensive and widely available.Actually it is widely available, which is what they meant to say!

Appearance and use

Cannabis comes in different forms.

Hash is a blacky-brown lump made from the resin of the plant. It's quite often squidgey. Grass or weed is the dried chopped leaves of the plant. It looks like tightly packed dried garden herbs.

Less common is sensimilla which a form of Jamaican weed famous for being all bud and no seed. And cannabis oil which is dark and sticky and comes in a small jar.

Most people mix cannabis up with tobacco and smoke it as a spliff or a joint. Some people put it in a pipe. Others make tea with it or stick it in food like cakes.

Grass or weed is the flowering heads of the female cannabis plant, if you get sold leaves you've been ripped off
Sensimilla is female weed which isn't fertalised by male plants - hence the buds don't contain seeds. It's what skunk weed should be. It's certainly not something special to Jamacia anymore.
Frank is right to say that most people roll joints, mixed with tobacco. Making tea with cannabis won't work though as THC (the active compound) isn't water soluable.


Bhang, 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 where it comes from... Afghan, homegrown, Moroccan etc

Of course, weed is also known by the types or strains, such as White Widow, purple haze and so on


About £7.50 for a "teenth" or sixteenth of an ounce

About £15 for an "eight" of an ounce. And about £25 for a "quarter"

Which is true enough for most people, but if you buy the far superior home grown stuff (which now forms the majority of cannabis in the UK) things are changing. Expect to pay around £5 per gram of hyroponic skunk weed. UKCIA hasn't heard of dealers actually weighing in ounces for a long time, and increasingly a "teenth" means 2grms. A 1p coin is often used to weigh an "eighth", in fact a 1p coin is 3.5 gms which is close to but not exactly an eighth of an ounce, likewise a 2p coin (7grms) is often used to weigh a "quarter".


Cannabis is not something that dealers mix anything with, But some unsuspecting people have been known to buy blocks of mud, stock cubes and garden herbs from people pretending to be dealers.

Actually, Frank is seriously wrong here. So-called "soap bar" is well known for being badly contaminated with all sorts of nasty stuff as UKCIA has been warning about for some time (click here). Of course, if Frank were being honest here, he's warn that because cannabis is illegal, there are no controls over the supply side. On occasion dealers do rip you off and sometimes also offer other drugs to people intending to buy cannabis, this is a danger caused by the law, not cannabis.

Frank has this to say about Alcohol

Because it's legal and sold only in licensed premises, most alcohol is unadulterated by anything very nasty.

Which is true, so why not warn of the dangers of the unlicenced, unregulated cannabis market caused by the fact that cannabis isn't legal?

The Effects

The effects of any drug have a lot to do with who the users with, what mood they're in and how much of the drug they take. Cannabis is no exception.

Actually, that is more true for cannabis than with most other drugs. What used to be called 'set and setting' - who you are with and where you are - is very important when you get stoned. That isn't true for all drugs as Frank should know.
Much like a cigarette, the effects are immediate and last about an hourNot true. When smoked the effects are pretty fast acting, but not immediate. For a total nonsmoker having a first puff on a tobacco spliff, the head-spinning hit which happens at once is the tobacco. The cannabis high will come along some time later, maybe as long as 10 - 20 mins later. How long it lasts depends on how much is smoked. Bongs etc are faster acting but still not immediate.
Smoking a spliff makes most people happy, relaxed and at peace with the world but the effects vary from person to person. Some people have one puff and feel sick. Others get the giggles until the muscles in their faces hurt.Where do they get this from? The last bit about face muscles is just stupid. Smoking with tobacco is the easiest way to make people feel sick. To be honest, most people just feel stoned when they smoke cannabis, which is much more than just "feeling happy, relaxed and at peace with the world"
Cannabis is quite an introspective drug. Once stoned, users can find hidden depths in daytime television/ the most unlikely song lyrics.Being stoned is an introspective experience, true. It certainly does allow people to listen deeply to music, experiencing layers of complexity in the composition. Similar things can happen with images. This is why artists use cannabis to great effect in making music and works of art. Indeed, it's probably the reason most people use cannabis, sad then that Frank tells people to watch daytime TV when stoned, but then it is an anti drug site remember, the message has to be a negative one...
It's a mild hallucinogen. Colour and sounds appear brighter and sharperIndeed, which is partly why "site and setting" mentioned above are important.
It affects coordination. So it can make people a bit unsteady on their feet. Doing complicated things like operating machinery is not a good idea. Stoned people do not stagger around like drunks although being very stoned can make movement difficult. In some ways cannabis can improve concentration and may even help with certain complex tasks, particularly with artistic composition. But it is good advice not to work dangerous machinery when stoned - including driving.
Some people use it to relieve muscle pain associated with illnesses like MS (Multiple Sclerosis).True - others use it for other reasons such as stress relief as well, indeed cannabis seems to have a very wide range of medical applications, something long denied by the drug warriors.
Someone who's been smoking a lot will have bloodshot eyes, a dry mouth and may well have their head in the fridge. Hunger pangs are known as 'getting the munchies'.Near enough
There is a flip sideAll the above was supposed to be the positive information?
Some people get so chilled they lose their inhibitions altogether.Sorry Frank, that is utter rubbish. That is probably the one thing cannabis does not do, indeed, it's quite the opposite. Some people, when they get very stoned, become introverted and can dwell on personal problems. Perhaps Frank is talking about sexual encounters here, if so, why not say it?
Even hardcore smokers can get anxious, panicky and suspicious.Which is what can happen if you become too inward looking when stoned.
Cannabis screws with short-term memory.When stoned, yes. Not permanently though.
Eating or drinking the drug delays the effects and can make them stronger and longer lasting.That's not a flip side! Eating or drinking cannabis also avoids the dangers associated with smoking. However, given the unregulated supply side - caused by the law - it is hard to judge the strength of your hash cake. Again though, Frank fails to warn of the actual cause of the problem.
Chances of getting hooked 
Unlikely. There is a minimal risk of physical dependence. Psychological dependency occurs very occasionally.True
Users are more likely to get addicted to nicotine if they roll their spliffs with tobacco. There are no physical withdrawal symptoms if you've only been using for a short while and there should be no problem stopping (unless you get addicted to the tobacco).So why doesn't Frank advise people to use cannabis pure, without the tobacco? Why not give this obvious and clear bit of harm reduction advice? See UKCIA Tokepure - click here
If you have been using for a long time, worth you might want to think about counselling. Your local drug agency can offer help and advice.If you can understand that sentence, maybe you do need counselling. Just because you've been using cannabis for a long time doesn't mean you have a problem, it might mean you enjoy it. If you do want to stop and find it hard though counselling may help, "psychological dependency" can seem very real to some people. You may have similar problems with gambling, it's not a problem specific to cannabis.
The risks 
Most of the risks associated with cannabis are linked to regular, heavy use.Most problems associated to anything are linked to regular, heavy use, cannabis is no exception to that rule. Notice how Frank is careful not to say there are few if any risks with moderate use, again, he can't, it's an anti drugs site. This is an example of "spin".
Smoking cannabis may be more harmful than smoking tobacco. Cannabis has a higher concentration of chemical 'nasties' that cause cancer.Note the use of the words "may be", this is very open to debate and not proven. However, another simple bit of harm reduction advice is to breath in as little smoke as possible and to filter the smoke. Use a water pipe and smoke small amounts of strong weed for example.
Smoking anything can give you heart problems, bronchitis and cancer. Smoking it with tobacco can get you hooked on tobacco. Probably true - don't smoke it with tobacco and breath in as little smoke as possible - see above.
Cannabis can make asthma worse. And it's not a good idea with heart disease, high blood pressure or at risk from strokes.Frank is on very shaky ground here. UKCIA has heard a lot of evidence that cannabis is actually good for asthma, although smoking tobacco laden spliffs is going to reduce any potential benefits
Regular, heavy use makes it harder to learn and concentrate. Being stoned all the time isn't going to win anyone 'Employee Of The Month'Regular, heavy use of anything won't make you employee of the month, that's not advice particular to cannabis.
Frequent use of cannabis can cut a man's sperm count and suppress ovulation in women.Really? Cannabis users don't seem to have problems breeding!
Someone asked Frank this question: " I 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 contraceptive effect?

Despite the urgent need to rectify such a potentially disastrous belief, Frank waited 3 days to reply and then did not answer the question. Here is his reply Click here (not really worth it). UKCIA would like to hear answers frank gives you - e-mail them here

Some people begin to feel tired all the time and can't seem to get motivated.Don't be stoned all the time!
Some research has made a link between cannabis and mental illnesses like schizophrenia. If you've got a history of mental illness in the family you should think very carefully about getting stoned.

Some research, it's not proof by a long way. However, if you find cannabis has unpleasant effects - and some people certainly do - don't use it.

The vast majority of people will not suffer in this way of course.

Cannabis psychosis is rare but happens when someone's literally smoked themselves into oblivion. It can continue for some time but is treatable with prescription drugs.It's also treatable by simply stopping the cannabis use in the vast majority of cases
Smoking cannabis when pregnant can harm the baby. There's an increased risk of birth defects, miscarriage and sudden infant death syndrome. Babies also tend to be lower in birth weight.

Don't smoke when pregnant, that's well known advice. UKCIA received this feedback from a reader:

"I don't think its advisable to take any drug including alcohol or caffeine when pregnant, surely you shouldn't really be encouraging people to get stoned when they are pregnant if it involves smoking or not"?

If you can't trust them to tell the truth about cannabis, how can you trust them to tell the truth about anything?

Frank then goes onto explain the legal position of cannabis. We won't repeat this here because, as Frank says, the law is changing. What Frank doesn't explain of course, is why the law is as it is and what can people do to avoid the dangers caused by the law, but then Frank is a government campaign, it wouldn't, would it?

Why can't they tell the truth about cannabis? - Answer because it's illegal and they are trying to keep the law in place. To really tell the truth would involve questioning the law, so they can't. Talk to Frank is another opportunity wasted by the need to "spin".


ukcia banner
Use this banner to link to UKCIA

Page designed and maintained by UKCIA