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Canada (162,457)
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Chapter 15

Drugs and Behaviour - Chapter 15

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Bruce Mc Kay

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Drugs and Behaviour – Chapter 15  Cannabis, the plant o Marijuana preparation of leafy material from Cannabis plant o Strong evidence that there are three species of Cannabis  Cannabis sativa – originated in Asia, now grows worldwide, fibres used for hemp products  Cannabis indica – grown for psychoactive resins and cultivated in many areas  Cannabis ruderalis – grows primarily in Russia  Cannabis preparations o Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) active ingredient in cannabis, concentrated in the resin  Most resin in the flowering tops o Potency of cannabis preparation varies depending on part of plant used o Charas – most potent, contains pure resin carefully removed from surface of leaves and stems o Hashish – substance widely known around world in its purest form is pure resin  May be less pure depending on how its extracted o Ganja – second most potent, dried flowering tops of plants with pistillate flowers  Male plants removed from field before female plants can become pollinated  Increases potency of female plants and produces high-grade marijuana known as sinsemilla o Average content 7-12% o Bhang – weakest form, using remainder of plant after top is picked  Dried and ground into powder  Rare in NA  Contains <1% o Hash oil – plants boiled in alcohol, then liquid evaporated into thick dark substance  Varies in potency, can contain more than 50% THC  History o Early history  Earliest reference in 2737 BCE – Chinese emperor  Recommended it for some medical uses  1000 CE – spread to the Muslim world o Nineteenth century: romantic literature and the new science of psychology  Earliest poplar account of hashish use is in The count of Monte Cristo (1844)  Contains statements about characteristics of drug that still sound contemporary  1840s – artists and writers gathered to use drugs  Gautier wrote book describing activities o Best literary descriptions of hashish intoxication o History of cannabis policy in Canada  Canada followed stern prohibitionist line to control illicit drug use  Until late 1950, Canada’s illicit drug policy one of the most punitive drug control systems in the world  Drug addiction started being viewed as a disease instead of a crime, and doctors should have a say rather than just law enforcement  Criminalization of drugs was accepted because drugs were believed to have ability to control people  1960s-1970s – “Dope fiend” myth discredited because youth were using it and not turning into dope fiends  Laws were criticized for making criminals out of white middle-class youth  1969 – commission of inquiry into non medical use of drugs (le Dain Commission) studied illicit drug issues  Between 1969-1973 – produced four reports 1 Drugs and Behaviour – Chapter 15 o Main point raised was recommendation of gradual withdrawal of criminalization of illegal drugs o Greater leniency for crime of possession, abolishing imprisonment o Recommended possession of cannabis should not be considered an offence  May 27, 2002 – bill 38  Designed to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis o Possession  <15g – punishable with fine  15-30g – ticketed or arrested and charged at officer’s discretion o Planting  Up to 7 plants – summary offence  Cultivation in larger amounts more severe  Supply, distribution and trafficking of marijuana, hashish and hash oil o Marijuana supply distribution and trafficking in Canada  Cultivated both indoors and outdoors  Indoor production more common because greater control over growing environment yields larger crops  Higher THC levels  Increasingly sophisticated cultivation methods contributed to higher THC levels  2009 – report on the illicit drug situation in Canada (RCMP)  Amount of marijuana produced in Canada exceed domestic demand, resulting in organized crime groups, exporting to foreign markets  Canada source country for high-grade marijuana  Predominantly occurred in BC, Ontario and Quebec  Number of grow-ops increased in small, rural communities in prairie provinces  Asian organized crime continued to dominate indoor production – increased production and potency  Proceeds generated from this used to fund other criminal activities o Hashish and hash oil supply, distribution and trafficking in Canada  Hash and hash oil originally smuggled into Canada from south Asia, middle east, Africa, morocco, south Africa, Mozambique and Caribbean  Morocco reportedly largest supplier of hash to global market  Produced 877 metric tons of hash  2009 – Afghanistan cannabis survey  One of the top hash producers in world, 1500-3500 metric tons  Pakistan one of primary source/transit countries for has destined for Canada  Most of the hash products seized in 2009 either originated from Afghanistan or transited through South Africa  Jamaica for decades has been primary supplier of hash products to Canada  Prevalence rates of cannabis use o Canadian alcohol and drug use monitoring survey (CADUMS)  Designed to provide detailed national and provincial estimates of alcohol and drug-related behaviours and outcome  Prevalence rates of cannabis use higher in males than females  15-24 average age of initiation is 15.6 years old  Canadian addictions survey (CAS) compared to CADUMS showed decrease in cannabis use over five years by gender and within age categories o Worldwide use of cannabis  Most widely consumed illicit drug in the world  155-250 million people used illicit substances at least once in 2008 2 Drugs and Behaviour – Chapter 15  Cannabis users largest number of illicit drug users  Amphetamines second most common  Surveys done in households and schools may not be as accurate o Compassion clubs  In Canada, compassion clubs, cannabis clubs or buyers’ clubs, individuals can purchase variety of strains of cannabis and other cannabis products  Vary in size and structure  Self regulated, no federal standards under which they operate to produce and distribute marijuana  2010 – Marijuana medical access regulations (MMAR) regulated so that only individuals licensed to possess or produce are authorized  Purchasing from compassion clubs are subject to law enforcement measures  Pharmacology o Chemistry of cannabis plant quite complex  Isolation and extraction of THC still difficult o More than 400 chemicals in marijuana, 66 unique to cannabis plant (cannabinoids) o 1964 – THC isolated in 1964 and most pharmacologically active o Cannabinoid chemicals  THC to cannabis <=> nicotine to tobacco o Absorption, distribution and elimination  Smoked  THC rapidly absorbed into blood, distributed to brain then rest of body o Gone from brain within 30 minutes  Peak effects occur usually within 5-10 minutes  THC has half life of 19 hours, but metabolites (at least 45) have half-life of 50 hours  After one week, 25-30% of THC/metabolites still remain in body  Complete elimination might take 2-3 weeks  Orally  Slower, liver transforms THC  Peak effects at 90 minutes  High lipid solubility – selectively taken up and stored in fatty tissues to be released slowly  Excretion primarily through feces  Two implications o No easy way to monitor THC or metabolite levels and relate them to behavioural/physiological effects o Long-lasting, steady, low concentration of THC and metabolites on brain and other organs have effects not yet determined o Mechanism of action  Identifying and purifying THC helps scientists find effects on CNS  1988 – developed technique to identify and measure specific/selective binding sites for THC and related compounds  This research identified body’s natural marijuana-like substance  Anandamide  THC/cannabinoids bind to two receptors: CB1 and CB2  CB2 receptors found outside brain in immune cells, may play role in modulation of immune response  CB1 receptors found throughout body, primarily in brain  Much more abundant than receptors for morphine and heroin, suggesting potential actions of cannabinoids are widespread 3 Drugs and Behaviour – Chapter 15
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