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Talk to Frank Cannabis information critique V4 - July 2007

Over the years since Talk to Frank was launched, the information about cannabis has undergone some interesting changes. The cannabis page is now much shorter and the claims Talk to Frank made about the ill effects of cannabis are now much reduced.

Talk to Frank also seems to have moderated his use of "yoof speak" - gone is the word "unpure" for example. However the information is still compromised by the need to support the policy of prohibition and where this causes problems, it's glossed over or ignored.

Talk to Frank cannabis info can be seen here The previous versions of Talk toFrank's cannabis information are no longer online, but critiques of them can be see here (jan 2006) and here (December 2003) and here (June 2003)

Talk to Frank says

UKCIA comments

The effects

Some people may feel chilled out, relaxed and happy, while others have one puff and feel sick.Most people to be fair either find cannabis to be enjoyable or not. Talk to Frank has this thing about cannabis making people sick, which is an odd claim to make.
Others get the giggles and may become talkative. Well, OK.
Hunger pangs are common and are known as 'getting the munchies'.Yep
Users may become more aware of their senses or get a feeling of slowing of time, which are due to its hallucinogenic effects.

"Users may be more aware of their senses"? Who writes this stuff?

Cannabis heightens your senses, you become more aware of music, colours etc, you don't become more aware of the fact you can see!

Time does pass slowly.

Clearly a stronger 'joint' (e.g. skunk or sinsemilla) may have more powerful effects, but users may moderate this by inhaling and using less.

Cannabis comes in many different types or strains - different strains have different ratios of active chemicals and produce very different effects in the user as a result.

Users may indeed use less strong cannabis than weak cannabis.

Because of prohibition, it;s almost impossible to know what you're buying however.


Chances of getting hooked

There is some psychological dependence with cannabis (where there is a desire to keep taking the drug even in spite of possible harms) and this occurs in about 10% of users. There are no physical withdrawal symptoms from cannabis use.OK
If you've only been using for a short while there should be no problem stopping but with continued regular use of cannabis, this can become more difficult. You’re also at risk of getting addicted to nicotine if you roll your spliffs with tobacco.Ah yes, the Talk to Frank "stop using" message. Not bad advice though but it would have been better to warn users not to smoke with tobacco because of the additional health risks and addiction problems. Talk to Frank still refuses to give this safer smoking advice.

The law

Cannabis is illegal; it's a Class C drug.Daft, isn't it?
If you’re caught with cannabis the police will always take action. Getting arrested can cause problems far worse than the drug itself can cause for most people. Note the amount of space dedicated to warnings about the law:


If you’re caught with even a small amount of cannabis on you, you can be arrested. What the police will do depends on the circumstances and how old you
Usually, you’ll get a warning and the police will confiscate the drug and if you’re under 18, your parent or guardian will also be contactedlaw
The police are more likely to arrest you if: you are blatantly smoking in public and/or have been caught with cannabis
If you continue to break the law, you can end up with a criminal record which could affect your chances of getting a job. It could also affect whether you can go on holiday to some countrieslaw
The maximum penalty for possession is two years in prison plus an unlimited


Dealing is a very serious offencelaw
In the eyes of the law, this includes giving drugs to
People who grow cannabis in their homes or carry large amounts on them also risk being charged with intent to
The maximum penalty for supply is 14 years in prison plus an unlimited
Did you know? 
Drug driving is as illegal as drink driving. You could go to prison, get a heavy fine or be
Allowing people to take cannabis in your house or any other premises is illegal. If the police catch someone smoking cannabis in a club they can prosecute the landlord, club owner or person holding the partylaw
Using cannabis to relieve pain is also an offence. Possession is illegal whatever you’re using it for.Actually that's not quite true. Cannabis is available legally as "Sativex", a hugely expensive preparation made from whole cannabis. However, you will be prosecuted even for using cannabis for pain relief, even if you're terminally ill.

Appearance and use

Cannabis comes in different forms.And in deferent strains or types.
Hash is a blacky-brown lump made from the resin of the plant and is the commonest form of cannabis in the UK. It's quite often squidgy.Hash isn't "made from the resin", it is the resin which is rubbed, shaken or otherwise removed from the plant. Hash will always be stronger than the herbal cannabis it's made from, but it may well come from less potent plants. Hash can be very, very strong however.
Grass or weed (traditional herbal cannabis) is made from the dried leaves of the plant and looks like tightly packed dried herbs. Less common is cannabis oil, which is dark and sticky and comes in a small jar.

Grass is not "made from the dried leaves of the plant", it's made from the flowering heads and the leaves around the flowers. It may contain seeds.

Oil is a chemical extract of the resin. Oil is usually very, very strong and is way stronger than hash.

Recently, there have been various forms of herbal or grass-type cannabis that are generally found to be stronger than ordinary ‘weed’, containing on average 2-3 times the amount of the active compound, THC. These include ‘sinsemilla’ (a bud grown in the absence of male plants and which has no seeds), ‘homegrown’, ‘skunk’ (which has a particular strong smell) and ‘netherweed’.

Talk to Frank seems very confused about this. Cannabis has long been grown as "Sensi" - Sensimilla (not "sinse" incidentally), meaning female plants grown without any males around to fertilise them. This makes the product stronger. It is not a new technique however.

"Homegrown", or "skunk" or any of the varieties grown by enthusiasts are nearly always grown as sensi.

When Talk to Frank says the cannabis is stronger, it means it has a higher potency, ie it produces resin with more THC relative to everything else. That doesn't really mean it's necessarily stronger.

These are forms of herbal cannabis often grown from selected seeds by intensive indoor methods (e.g. using hydroponic methods, artificial lighting etc.) to optimise their potency.The potency is determined by the plant grown, ie the seed. Growing in controlled conditions will make the plant as strong as possible.
Most people mix cannabis with tobacco and smoke it as a spliff or a joint. Some people put it in a pipe. And others make tea with it or stick it in food like cakes or ‘cannabis cookies’.True, but again, no advice not to use tobacco


Prices can vary from region to region. The prices given here are an average of street prices reported from 20 different parts of England.Grass is usually more expensive than resin (hash), with stronger forms tending to be more expensive (e.g. ‘skunk’ at £200 per ounce).Of course, if you grow it, it's near enough free and you don't have to fund oranised crime - buying cannabis often involves dealing with organised crime. This of course is caused by cannabis being illegal.


Some unsuspecting people have been known to buy blocks of mud, stock cubes and garden herbs from people pretending to be dealers.Since the middle of 2006 there has been a huge contamination problem in the UK. Herbal cannabis has been seen to contain microscopic glass beads for example and there have been many other reports of unknown additives. This information is totally inadequate.
The most impure cannabis is called 'soap bar'. It's contaminated with all sorts of things. This makes it cheaper but it's often harder to get very stoned.Ah! Talk to Frank now uses the word "impure" at last, rather than the awful "unpure" it used previously.
It’s not actually possible to tell whether a particular sample of 'skunk' or ‘homegrown’ or ‘sinsemilla’ will have a higher potency than an equal amount of 'imported herbal cannabis' - because the actual potencies of different products overlap substantially.In other worse, there's been no real overall increase in potency over the years.
The potency of herbal cannabis decreases over time in storage and is affected by what parts of the plant have been included in the product. Hence, a user has little guarantee about the ‘intensity of the high’. Also, it has been found the intensity of the smell of skunk appears to be no guide to the actual strength either.Being illegal, there are no quality controls. That, of course, is entirely caused by the law.

Non of the advice above acknowledges the cause of the problems, which is the regime Talk to Frank exists to defend. No warnings are given about the serious dangers associated with a market controlled and run in large part by organised crime.

It's very important NEVER to get into debt with a drug dealer. Disputes can not be settled by recourse to the law.

The risks

Even hardcore smokers can become anxious, panicky and suspicious.Temporarily, yes.
It affects your coordination, which is one of the reasons why drug driving is just as illegal as drink driving.OK
Some people think cannabis is harmless just because it’s a plant – but it isn’t harmless. Cannabis, like tobacco, has lots of chemical 'nasties', which can cause lung disease and cancer with long-term or heavy use, especially as it is often mixed with tobacco. It can also make asthma worse.

Well, human beings have around 5,000 years experience of cannabis and in that time it has never been identified as a cause of death.

But smoking anything isn't good for you and there is some very basic advice which Talk to Frank refuses to give for some reason.

THC is thought to impair the growth of some cancers

Avoid mixing cannabis with tobacco

It can make Asthma worse, it can also make it better.

Cannabis is risky for anyone with a heart problem as it increases the heart rate and can affect blood pressure.In a similar way to exercise apparently (according to Talk to Frank's" now withdrawn "Cannabis Explained" booklet. In fact cannabis causes a temporary increase in blood pressure, followed by a fall.
There’s also increasing evidence of a link between cannabis and mental health problems such as schizophrenia. If you’ve a history of mental health problems, depression or are experiencing paranoia, then taking this drug is not a good idea.

Cannabis can make existing conditions worse. It's good advice not to smoke cannabis if you're under 18, at least not very often. Continuous heavy use by young people might be an indication of an emerging mental health problem. Look after your mates.

If you have a bad reaction from using cannabis (bouts of paranoia etc), treat is as a warning. That's pretty obvious good advice.

Frequent use of cannabis can cut a man's sperm count and suppress ovulation in women. If you’re pregnant, smoking cannabis may harm the baby.Cannabis does not reduce peoples ability to have children. Taking any drugs when pregnant is not a good idea.
Regular, heavy use makes it difficult to learn and concentrate. Some people begin to feel tired all the time and can't seem to get motivated.Regular, heavy use of anything will do that. Moderate use is largely problem free however, but of course, talk to frank can't say that.
Some users may want to buy stronger herbal cannabis to get ‘a bigger high’ but unpleasant reactions can be more powerful when you use stronger strains, and stronger varieties may lead in time to more severe dependence or more severe mental health effectsUsing stronger versions of any drug can lead to bigger problems. But again, Talk to Frank is confusing potency with strength.
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