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Talk to Frank Cannabis info V3 2006

Nearly two years after its last, the Talk to Frank website finally had an update. This time however it seems to have been a rush job, with a a fairly crude cut-and-paste addition to the information.

So the first part of Franks information is much as before, although some of it has changed slightly - see comments in bold

The Talk to Frank page on cannabis can be seen here

The new section is here

Frank says
UKCIA comment
Appearance and use

The most widely used illegal drug in Britain. It's a naturally occurring drug made from parts of the cannabis plant.

Cannabis isn't "made" from parts of the cannabis plant, the cannabis plant "contains" the active ingredients. It's important to understand that cannabis as used is an entirely natural substance.

It's a sedative and mild hallucinogen that makes some people feel chilled out and others feel sick.

Cannabis may be a sedative, but it's one which can be used to enhance such pastimes as dancing (as with "Jiving" - "jive" being a jazz culture term for cannabis). Also, it doesn't produce hallucinations in the way LSD does.

It's not very expensive and widely available. It's not very expensive but is widely available.

ID: 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

Most herbal cannabis is now "homegrown" (in the loosest sense of the word "home") and is known by the strain of plant, e.g. White widow, Purple haze etc. or generally as "skunk" or more likely "weed".

Cannabis comes in different forms.

True
Hash is a blacky-brown lump made from the resin of the plant. It's quite often squidgey. Grass or weed is the dried leaves of the plant. It looks like tightly packed dried garden herbs.
A small amount of "home grown" weed
Weed looks like this
A small amount of hash (not soap bar)
Hash looks like this
Less common is sensimilla. This is bud grown in the absence of male plants and has no seeds. And cannabis oil which is dark and sticky and comes in a small jar.

Frank has changed this bit of information, he used to say "Less common is sensimilla which a form of Jamaican weed famous for being all bud and no seed"

Most, if not all, homegrown weed is sensimilla, i.e. unfertilised female plants, it's very unlikely you'll get seeds in skunk.

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.

The fact that most people smoke cannabis mixed with tobacco is true and is the biggest health hazard facing users. Sadly nowhere does Frank give harm reduction advice about safer ways to use cannabis.

As we commented last time, cannabis is not water soluble and putting it in tea (i.e. boiling water) won't work. You can however make milk based drinks with it and, indeed you can "stick it in" lots of food. See the ukcia how to eat cannabis section

Cost

About £7.50 for a 'teenth' or sixteenth of an ounce.

About £15 for an 'eighth' of an ounce. And about £25 for a 'quarter'.

Frank's prices are for low-grade soap bar, good quality weed costs a little more, perhaps around £10 per teenth.

Increasingly cannabis is being sold by the gram - especially weed. a "teenth" = 1.75grms.

 

This has now changed to say

Varies widely around the country. Grass is usually more expensive than resin (hash)

Frank no longer gives price advice for some reason (but changes hismind further down). Actually, as far as we can tell, prices are fairly uniform as Frank used to claim - and not much different, even two years on. Why the change?
Purity
Some unsuspecting people have been known to buy blocks of mud, stock cubes and garden herbs from people pretending to be dealers.

Of course, whilst cannabis remains illegal this is a very real problem, but that's the governments fault for having a stupid law which prevents any form of regulation of cannabis sales and which forces the trade into the hands of oganised crime. Of course, Frank can't say that.

The most unpure Cannabis is called 'soap bar'. It's contaminated with all sorts of things. This makes it cheaper but it's a false economy really as it is often harder to get stoned. Some users hate it so much they object to smoking it.

A big change here in Franks information. In June, Frank said "Cannabis is not something that dealers mix anything with". UKCIA has been warning for some time that this isn't true and that some forms of street hash - called "Soap bar" can be highly contaminated - see our soapbar warning.

Again, Franks' use of the English language is suspect and can really only be explained because he's not being honest. The word "unpure" in Franks comments actually mean "cut" or "polluted". This, again, is a direct result of prohibition and nothing else.

UKCIA advice - Don't buy soapbar, don't sell soap bar, it may be very dangerous indeed.

Why not tell the truth Frank?

The effects
The effects of any drug have a lot to do with who the users are 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 from about an hour to a few hours.Not 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 and at what rate. Bongs etc are faster acting but still not immediate.
Smoking more will make the effects last longer obviously.Franks' use of English is suspect again. Continuing to smoke will prolong the experience, smoking "more" as in having more hits on the one bong will make the experience mosre intense. Being stoned - like being drunk - is a matter of degree, it's not an "on/off" experience. So you can get very stoned for a short time or a little bit stoned for a long time using the same amount of cannabis.
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 face hurt.

As we said last time, where do they get this from? 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" - see here

The last bit about face muscles is just stupid and wrong.

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 other forms 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. Colours and sounds appear brighter and sharper.Indeed, which is partly why "site and setting" mentioned above are important.
It affects co-ordination. 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'.As we said before, Near enough.
There is a flip side:So all of the above were the good points of cannabis according to Frank...
 At this poimt Frank has scrapped a rather daft warning he used to have about cannabis causing a loss of inhibitions. Frank used to say "Some people get so chilled they lose their inhibitions altogether." It was utter rubbish, it's gone.Thanks Frank.
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.

Well, it is fair to warn that eating cannabis does take a while to feel any effect, but as for making the effect stronger and longer lasting, well, that's not a flip side!

Eating or drinking cannabis also avoids the dangers associated with smoking, but of course, Frank can't tell you that.

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 in about 10% of users.True although Frank no longer says "unlikely" for some reason.
Users are more likely to get addicted to nicotine if they roll their spliffs with tobaccoThen why doesn't Frank advise users to smoke cannabis without tobacco? Tokepure Frank!
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 don't smoke tobacco...
 

Frank's scrapped another wonderful bit of his GCSE English language grade F style information here: He used to say "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".

What he meant was if you do find you have a problem with your cannabis use (a few people do), don't be afraid to ask for help, you won't get busted.

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, Talk to Frank is 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. Indeed, there is some research which indicates that cannabis may actually inhibit cancer growth

In any case, cannabis smoking is very different in nature to tobacco smoking, which is why regular tobacco smokers buy it in 12grm (1/2 ounce) packs, probably every other day or so.

However, a simple bit of good 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 cannabis with tobacco and breath in as little smoke as possible - see above.
Cannabis can make asthma worse.

Frank is on very shaky ground here. UKCIA has heard a lot of anecdotal evidence that cannabis is actually good for asthma, although smoking tobacco laden spliffs is going to reduce any potential benefits.

Eating cannabis of course avoids these problems.

And it's not a good idea with heart disease, high blood pressure or at risk from strokes.Probably good advice, but again open to doubt, see here
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.This is a dangerous thing to say, cannabis has no contraceptive effect and cannabis users do not have trouble breeding. Frank should reconsider this comment.
Some people begin to feel tired all the time and can't seem to get motivated.Whilst others become hyperactive and use cannabis to concentrate on the task at hand. But in general it's reasonable advice not to be stoned all the time and certainly being stoned will not make you good at a task if you're not already.
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 can cause a range of mental health problems from short lived and more common problems such as anxiety and paranoid feelings, to less common difficulties with actual psychotic states that may require medical treatment.

This section has changed to become more alarmist and it is far from proven that cannabis actually causes any of these problems. However, it is probably true to say that cannabis may make latent conditions worse, which the user may not be aware of before using cannabis. Nothing on this earth is without risk.
These problems may fade away over several days after stopping using cannabis but occasionally may require a stay in hospital.In the vast majority of cases the problems fade when the stone wares off. If you experience these problems on a regular basis, don't use cannabis. If you continue to do so, you may find you have a problem. Feelings of anxiety or paranoia are warnings, don't ignore them.
Smoking cannabis when pregnant may harm the babySmoking anything when pregnant can harm the baby
Babies tend to be lower in birth weight and to have developmental problems.

This is smoking related advice, not cannabis related. However, it's good advice not to use any kind of drug when pregnant. A reader offered this feedback to UKCIA

"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"?

Fair enough.

Most of the new information has been stuck on here
Self control tips
While you're better to avoid smoking cannabis altogether, if you are finding it difficult to cut down or stop there are tips that you might find useful:Of course, it has to have the "don't use" message - this is a government anti-cananbis site remember. This is a pity, because this information is good for everyone who uses cannabis, even if they aren't finding it difficult to cut down or stop.
To reduce the risk of overdoing it, try to space out the days between using cannabis.Er, don't get stoned everyday I think he means. What's wrong with a quick toke before bedtime or after work?
Don't buy more than you need thinking you will save some for tomorrow - you probably won't.Why ever not? Not everyone canes the whole lot in one go Frank. Better advice is to learn when you've had enough as most users do.
The more you break up the pattern of use the easier it is to control cannabis and reduce the risks.That's probably true, but other factors like the way you use cannabis are important. Still no advice about smoking with tobacco note.
If you are trying to cut down, avoid things that remind you of cannabis. Certain places, people, events or times might make you think of cannabis and want to take it.This is good advice for breaking a psychological addiction.
Try to identify all the things you associate with using cannabis and make an effort to avoid them until you feel OK about not smoking. Plan to do something else at the time of day you usually have a joint.

This is actually a cut and paste from the stop smoking tobacco information issued by the government. Frank doesn't understand that cannabis is different to tobacco, to him its all just smoking.

Good advice as far as it goes, but what's the advice if you're not trying to cut down or stop Frank?

SKUNK
ID: home-grown, buds, tops, nederwiet/netherweed, sinsemilla
Ah! Frank has noticed the skunk debate at last. It only took him three years.
'Skunk' is a term that is often used to describe herbal cannabis grown from selected seeds by intensive indoor methods (e.g. using hydroponic methods, artificial lighting etc.). The term originally related to the strong smell of these particular strains.

"Skunk" is actually the name of a particular strain of cannabis, grown from "skunk" seeds made by skunk plants. Skunk is a cross between Sativa and Indica types of cannabis plant.

However, Frank is right to say the term "skunk" is often used to mean cannabis grown indoors under lights and the illegal nature of the supply side does often mean it's grown intensively.

In fact, a lot of "skunk" - better to call it "bud" - isn't grown from seeds but from cuttings of an older plant. Cuttings are not a new idea for gardeners, they've been doing it for thousands of years. Each plant grown from a cutting is a clone of the original - ie identical in every way. Growing from "cuts" thus produces a very predictable product.

The name did originally come from the smell.

Other terms for, and varieties of, such domestically produced herbal cannabis include homegrown, 'buds', 'tops', 'nederwiet/netherweed' or domestically produced 'sinsemilla'That's better
Purity
The method of selection and cultivation of homegrown or 'skunk' tend to produce cannabis with greater average strength than 'imported herbal cannabis' or 'imported cannabis resin' (i.e. greater amounts of the active ingredient 'tetrahydrocannabinol'). It is around twice as potent on average.

Well, Frank isn't going to tell you. This is information about strength, not purity. "Purity" means does it have contaminants? The straight answer to that question is as long as the plant is grown properly and not fed a diet of toxic chemicals, it will be totally pure.

Of course, because of prohibition, there are no checks to make sure it is always grown in a pure way, but any cannabis you grow yourself will be pure if you do it right. Of course, Frank can't tell you that.

The information about strength comes from the recent European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction here

Frank doesn't mention that different varieties of cannabis have different effects though.

It is not actually possible to tell whether a particular sample of 'skunk' will be any higher potency than an equal amount of 'imported herbal cannabis' - because the potencies overlap substantially. The potency anyway decreases over time in storage and is affected by what parts of the plant have been included in the product - so a consumer has little guarantee about the strength. The strength of the skunk smell appears to be no guide to actual potency either

What Franks is trying not to say is the claims that cannabis is now much stronger than it used to be are really not true.

It's because of prohibition that the consumer has no idea of how strong cannabis is, but Frank can't tell you that either.

Uncertain strengths are a direct result of government policy and nothing else.

Effects
Clearly a stronger 'joint' may have more powerful effects, but the user may inhale less and use less to moderate this.So, used responsibly, stronger cannabis is safer than weaker cannabis. But again, Frank can't actually tell you that.
Some users may wish to purchase stronger herbal cannabis to obtain a stronger effect but unpleasant reactions may also be more powerful with the use of stronger strains.

Frank has to end this on a negative note to keep the government happy.

Most people buy domestically produced cannabis for one reason only - it's way better quality than the imported stuff.

If your dealer knows the grower - or if you grow it yourself of course - you'll also know it's cleaner than imported cannabis.

Also, growing your own or buying from a home-grower avoids contact with the illegal drug dealers, but that's something else Frank can't tell you.

Cost
£200 for skunk per ounce (price may vary).

More like £160 per ounce actually, if you do buy it in ounces of course. If you buy in smaller amounts then it's going to cost more.

Of course, if you grow it yourself it's near enough free as long as you don't get caught.

The information Frank is giving is getting better, but very slowly and it's still badly compromised by having to support the policy of prohibition.

The worst omission with this information is that Frank avoids warning that health risks - especially regarding mental health - are mostly concerning children and not adults, certainly not adults who use cannabis in a responsible way. If Frank were to raise this issue, it would fuel demands for age limits on sales, something not possible under prohibition.

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