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2. Cannabis and Its Effects Notes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 14 March 2010 00:00


This chapter covers information available to the Commission up to February 15, 1972. Because of unavoidable delays in the acquisition of certain documents, coverage of the literature published in the last few months is relatively less complete than the review of earlier work. As noted in Chapter 1, the Commission has had access to several thousand papers dealing with cannabis. No attempt has been made to reference all available documents either in the text or in the selected biblography presented.

The genus Cannabis saliva was initially proposed by the botanist Lin-naeus in 1753, although the word cannabis derives from far earlier vernacular and scientific usage. The ancient Assyrians, for example, named the plant Quonoubou Qunnapu, while the Hebrews called it Qanneb, the Arabs Qannob, the Persians Quonnab, the Celts Quannab, and the Greeks Kannabas,'•546 all of which are synonymous with the English term 'hemp'. (See also the following note.)

"True" hemp (Cannabis sativa) is sometimes confused with a variety of other commercial fibre-producing plants, among these: manilla hemp (abaca fibre), sisal hemp (agave sisalana) New Zealand hemp (phormium), Mauritius hemp, henequen (agave rigida elongata), all of which are leaf fibres. Fibres obtained from the stalks of plants are called bast fibres and include: "true" hemp, jute, flax, ramie, sunn Chemp'), kenaf, urena and nettle.' Cannabis is also not to be confused with "Canadian Hemp" (apocynum cannabinum) or other members of the general families Cannabaceae or Daliscaceae. Only Cannabis sativa contains cannabinoids.

Other hypotheses regarding the etymology of marijuana include the Mexican mari-iguana (referring to the ritual use of an iguana in some traditional cannabis-smoking ceremonies). It is also possible that mari-juana may have originally referred, in Mexico, to a low grade of wild tobacco (nicotiana glauca) or is derived from the Indian word malihua meaning prisoner, thus expressing the idea that cannabis takes posses-sion of an individual and makes him a prisoner of it. It is certain, however, that the word marijuana has been used in North America to describe a cannabis preparation since the drug was first introduced to
the United States and Canada. 219,371,374,561,600,656,674

Other general cannabis reviews, presented within the last two years, that have been of assistance in preparing this chapter include those by Barber,' Bourassa,72 Braude et al.,' Brill et al.," Carr et al.,'" Davidson and Barclay,' Gershon,' Goode,' Grinspoon,242.243 Hollister,' Joyce and Curry,' Kalant and Kalant,' Kaplan,321 Malcolm,' McGloth-lin,411.413 Mechoulam,42' Medical World News,425 Nahas,' PiHard,'" Schofield,'" Smith,'"" Snyder,'78 Unwin,"6 Whitlock."' Significant re-cent reviews of more specific cannabis topics include those by: Domino et al.,' Hardman et al.,2s2 Mechoulam,' Skinner,'" Small,'" Truitt"' and Willinsky.672 The following bibliographies of cannabis publications were used in preparing this report: Gamage and Zerkin,' O. Kalant,' Moore,' Rickles et al.,521 United Nations Division of Narcotic Drugs,' United Nations Economic and Social Council (and current supple-ments),629 Waller and Denny.' In addition, the Documentation Depart-ment of the Addiction Research Foundation has provided the Commis-sion, on contract, with current cannabis-related publications through reviews of bibliographies and computerized journal searches such as CAN-SDI and ASCA.

Cannabis sativa is one of the few plants with psychotropic properties which does not contain major active alkaloids.

Recently at the University of Mississippi, between 300 and 700 pounds of manicured marijuana were obtained per acre.'58.159 In India, approx-imately 300 pounds per acre was reported.'" It is not entirely clear why the yield was so much higher in Ottawa (1,800 pounds per acre).

Some information regarding typical marijuana cigarette sizes was ob-tained from two Commission projects. Sixteen experimental subjects (all regular cannabis users) of one study251 were asked to hand-roll one or two 'joints' "... like the ones you usually have. Placebo marijuana was used and the subjects were aware that the resulting cigarettes would not be consumed. Twenty-two cigarettes were produced, which contained between 270 mg and 638 mg of material, with a mean of 408 mg and a standard deviation of 114 mg. In a separate study,' 14 subjects were asked to record the quantities of cannabis consumed each time they and their friends used the drug. The 59 cigarettes reported ranged from 83 mg to 750 mg of marijuana, with a mean of 329 mg and a standard deviation of 146 mg. The figures from these two independent sources (but both groups of subjects were primarily from the Ottawa area) generally corroborate other less formal estimates237.438 that 'typical jo-ints' in Canada contain about one-third of a gram of marijuana.

One hundred twelve seizures each of marijuana and hashish were selected by examination of R.C.M. Police exhibit reports and were sent from the vaults of the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs to the Pharmaceuti-cal Chemistry Section of the Department of National Health and Welfare. Analyses were carried out by H. D. Beckstead. All of the selected seizures which were of an acceptable condition and of an adequate quantity were analysed, resulting in a total of 79 marijuana samples (including four seizures of plants) and 62 hashish samples. The results of the qualitative analyses of these samples are shown in Table 1(1.B), along with nine marijuana and nine hashish samples seized since October 1971 (selected by the analysts of the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Section from among those in their possession).

For purposes of quantitative estimates, seizures which met the follow-ing criteria were employed: (1) Less than eighteen months between date of seizure and date of analysis; (2) weight of hashish samples between 0.1 gm and 3 gm, and marijuana samples between 1 gm and 14 gm, or any number of marijuana cigarettes. These quantities were selected as being representative of the amounts or forms in which cannabis is ultimately delivered to and consumed by the user. The resulting collec-tion was composed of 45 marijuana and 37 hashish items. On analysis, one 'marijuana' sample and three 'hashish' samples were found to contain no cannabinoids, leaving 44 marijuana and 34 hashish samples reported in Table 2(B.1). The nine recent seizures described above are also shown in Table 2(B.2). In addition, samples from the four seizures of plants are shown in Table 2(A.2.B).
These seizures were not altogether representative of national seizure totals for 1970-1971 in that Ontario was somewhat under-represented and the Prairie and Maritime Provinces were relatively over-represented.

These samples were analysed for the Commission by H. D. Beckstead, of the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Division, Department of National Health and Welfare.

These samples were analysed for the Commission by J. Marshman and R. Berg of the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario.

If we are right in assuming that the effects of THC provide the primary reinforcement for cannabis use and, further, that users adjust the quantities consumed of various cannabis preparations (of differing THC content) accordingly, then because of the higher CBD and CBN to THC ratio in hashish, a person using hashish would typically absorb several times the total cannabinoids to obtain the same THC dose as he would if he were using marijuana.

Information provided to the Commission by representatives of the Canadian pharmaceutical companies involved indicates that Wampole Ltd. last produced cannabinoid-containing Hypno-Bromic Com-pound 0 in December 1954, and Parke Davis and Co. deleted cannabis from its Chlor-Anodyne ° in 1947. The Commission has been in-formed that old stocks of such cannabis preparations exist at present in some pharmacies in Canada.

Doses discussed in this report refer to THC quantities in cannabis material before it is smoked. As noted in the text, under most conditions less than half of this original dose is actually delivered in the smoke to, and absorbed by, the subject. Until smoking techniques are standard-ized and/or convenient methods are available for actually assessing cannabinoid levels in the body, it seems most reasonable to present dose information in the original form with the appropriate qualifications.

The development of an efficient anti-THC antibody for analytic pur-poses could conceivably provide the basis for the development of a vaccine which would immunize individuals against cannabis effects.".'•"3

High Purity synthetic A9 THC was dissolved in hexane. Extracted alfalfa was added to this solution and the solvent evaporated off. The quantities mixed were intended to produce a preparation which con-tained 5% THC by weight. Although on analysis a considerable range of figures was obtained from different authorized laboratories, the more reliable measurements indicated that we were successful in achieving  this goal. Similar problems existed in obtaining adequate quantitative estimates of the THC content of the marijuana. The more reliable extraction and analytic techniques suggested that this material con-tained approximately 3% THC by weight. The cannabinoid values provided by NIMH with the original shipment indicated that the marijuana contained 2.9% THC and 1.1% CBD. The latter value was later found to be a clerical error and the original CBD value was probably closer to 0.1%. Both the marijuana and THC supplies were obtained from the U.S. NIMH (marijuana sample 2-PF-109; THC sample SS-C-66906). The original THC sample was indicated to be 97.3% I- A 9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol, with the remainder primarily CBN and A THC. These materials were stored frozen under nitrogen until used.
In spite of the great care taken to match the THC content of the two cannabis preparations used in Experiment 1,44° limitations in the reli-ability and validity of cannabinoid quantitative analytic techniques available impose some restrictions on the confidence that can be placed on detailed pharmacological comparisons.

In time production or reproduction tasks, the subject is required to generate a given time interval without the aid of external timing mechanisms. In time estimation tasks, the subject is asked to judge the duration of a given interval.

Statistical tests based on an analysis of variance were used in some instances and non-parametric methods were applied in others. Gener-ally, the p .05 level of significance was employed as the statistical criterion.

A proposal for an international uniform cannabinoid nomenclature system was made at a recent cannabis symposium in Sweden.'

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 January 2011 19:56

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