Street name: Skunk, blow, draw, hash, dope, grass, smoke, weed

Street form: Over recent years 'Skunk' varieties of the cannabis plant have become increasingly popular. The Skunk plants are usually grown indoors using high powered lights and hydroponic growing systems. The plants are manipulated to have a high THC content which causes the very pungent smell – hence the name 'Skunk'. Many users prefer to smoke the buds from the top of the plant because this is where the highest number of THC crystals are located. THC is the element of the cannabis plant that gets users 'high' or 'stoned'.

Cannabis resin/hashish – most commonly used form is small blocks/lumps of brown resinous material.

Marijuana/herbal cannabis – preparation resembles dried grass, leaves or bud.

Cannabis oil – strongest preparation, brown to black coloured thick oil.

Street use: Usually smoked with tobacco in a 'spliff' or 'joint'. Some users prefer to use a water pipe or 'bong'. The plant can also be cooked with food and eaten. The use of vapourisers (that extract the THC from the plant matter) is increasing as some users look for 'healthier' ways to take the drug.

Drug effect: Depending on the THC content the effects can range from mild euphoria and relaxation to full blown hallucinogenic experiences.

Dependency: Chance of psychological dependency

Withdrawal: If smoked, effects last for up to three hours. If eaten, the drug is absorbed more slowly and the effects may last for 24 hours. No physical withdrawal symptoms reported but heavy users may experience restlessness and depression.

Long-term use: Can result in respiratory problems associated with smoking. Psychological disturbance can occur with very heavy use or with people prone to mental health disorders.

Overdose risk: Very unlikely, although vomiting is common when taken for the first time. However, people with cardiovascular problems might have an increased heart rate.

Legal status: Cannabis is a Class 'B' drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Maximum penalty:

For possession: 5 years and/or unlimited fine

For dealing: 14 years and/or unlimited fine.