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CannabisCannabis is the most widely used illegal drug. It is smoked, usually with tobacco, and is used primarily for its relaxing effects.

What else is it called?

weed, skunk, hash, pot, dope, draw, ganja, spliffs, joints, marijuana, herb, hashish, grass, bud, bhang, puff, sensi, resin, sinselilla

What does it look like?

Although it’s all from the same plant, cannabis comes in many different forms.


  • Hash is a black or brown soft lump made from the resin of the cannabis plant. It’s much less common in the UK than it used to be.


  • Grass, also known as weed, is made from the dried leaves and flowering parts of the female cannabis plant and looks like tightly packed dried herbs. This traditional grass was normally imported and much weaker than the ‘skunk’ types of cannabis usually sold now.


  • Skunk is the term used to refer to strong forms of herbal cannabis that have increasingly dominated the UK market. They are, on average, up to twice as strong as cannabis that was used in the past. They include: sinsemilla, with no seeds; homegrown, plants grown indoors with the aid of artificial light, heat and nutrients; ‘skunk’, which has a particularly strong smell and netherweed, an imported form of strong herbal cannabis.

Cannabis oil

  • Cannabis oil is a sticky, dark honey-coloured substance and is much less common.

What is its legal status?

Cannabis is a Class B drug – it’s illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell.

Possession is illegal whatever you’re using it for, including pain relief. The penalty is up to five years in jail.

Supplying someone else can get you fourteen years and an unlimited fine.

Supplying your mates, even if you give it away, is also considered ‘supplying’ under the law.

Cannabis was downgraded to class C drug a few years ago, but this decision was later reversed.

How much does it cost?

Hash £26-£40 per quarter ounce, Grass/Weed £30 per quarter ounce, Skunk about £50 per quarter ounce.

What equipment do people use to take it?

Cigarette papers (especially large ones, or ‘kings’), tobacco for mixing, cardboard cut into small rolls to use as a filter or ‘roach’. Sometimes small grinders for preparing herbal cannabis. Designed or improvised pipes or ‘bongs’, or plastic bottles cut in half with foil over the top and a bag tied around the bottom.

What about dependence/addiction?

Cannabis may be ‘cut’ with other substances to increase the weight and the dealer’s profits.

Impurities in cannabis may include a variety of substances, with laboratory-confirmed reports of glass and pesticides being found in herbal forms of cannabis; and with hash/resin frequently being mixed with a range of substances to increase weight and the dealer’s profits. In April 2010, a study, looking into contaminants in drugs reported that there were cases of cannabis being adulterated with henna, lead and aluminium.

Cannabis is usually treated as psychologically addictive, though heavy users can experience cold-like symptoms when they stop using.