However, an enormous amount of cannabis these days is actually home-grown.
Legal status The supply and possession of cannabis is illegal in the UK and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
There is no ‘hangover’ as with alcohol, instead users describe the feeling as being ‘woolly-headed’.
Origin of the species The drug itself is derived from Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica, a plant related to nettles and hops that grow wild in many parts of the world. The first written account of cannabis use can be found in Chinese records dating from 2800 BC.
This may come as welcome news to the many people who use the drug either for medicinal or recreational reasons.
Cannabis can be smoked, usually with tobacco, eaten, drunk in a ‘tea’ or snorted as a snuff.
However, cannabis is widely used by people for medicinal reasons, often for the relief of pain, or as an appetite stimulant.
In 1996, a clinical trial in San Francisco found that people with HIV wasting disease who used cannabis were more likely to put on weight.
In practice, the police may issue a caution to people caught in possession of the drug, and with the downgrading of the drug to Class C, it is possible that only persistent offenders are likely to find themselves in court.
Medicinal use Medicinal use of cannabis is illegal and therefore there is little verifiable evidence of the drug’s effects when used in the management of chronic health conditions.