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close this bookManagement of Poisoning - A Handbook for Health Care Workers (ILO, WHO; 1997; 267 pages)
View the documentPreface
View the documentAcknowledgements
open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
open this folder and view contentsPart 1 - General Information on Poison and Poisoning
close this folderPart 2 - Information on specific poisons
open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
open this folder and view contentsPesticides
open this folder and view contentsChemicals and chemical products used in the home and the workplace
open this folder and view contentsMedicines
close this folderPlants, animals and natural toxins
View the documentPlants that contain atropine
View the documentCannabis
View the documentIrritant plants
View the documentOleanders
View the documentOrnamental beans
View the documentMushrooms
View the documentSnakes
View the documentSpiders
View the documentVenomous fish
View the documentPoisoning from eating seafood
View the documentWord list
 

Cannabis

The substance covered in this section

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, Indian hemp, hashish, ganja, pot, dope and grass, is made from the Indian hemp plant Cannabis sativa.

Uses and abuse

Cannabis is often abused and, in some countries, is used almost as much as alcohol or tobacco. It makes people feel relaxed and makes colours and sounds seem brighter and louder. The dried plant is made into cigarettes or put in a pipe and smoked. Sometimes it is taken with food. Some people inject it.

How it causes harm

Cannabis affects the brain.

How poisonous it is

It does not cause much harm to adults, unless it is injected. Children are likely to get signs of poisoning but usually recover.

Signs and symptoms

Effects start within 10 minutes of smoking the drug and last for about 2-3 hours. When the drug is eaten the effects start within 30-60 minutes and last for 2-5 hours. The effects are:

- usually a feeling of well-being, happiness and sleepiness, but high doses may cause fear, panic and confusion,

- fast pulse,

- the person cannot balance when standing up,

- hallucinations,

- drowsiness,

- slurred speech,

- coughing if the drug is breathed in, as when smoking cigarettes.


If the drug is injected it may cause more serious problems:

- severe headache,
- dizziness,
- irregular breathing,
- fever,
- low blood pressure,
- unconsciousness.


What to do

Give first aid. If the patient is unconscious or drowsy, lay him or her on one side in the recovery position. Check breathing every 10 minutes.

A patient who is anxious or confused should be kept in a quiet, warm room.

If the cannabis was swallowed: there is no need to make the patient vomit. If the patient is fully awake, breathing normally, and not vomiting, give activated charcoal and water to drink.

A patient who has injected cannabis should be taken to hospital as quickly as possible.

Information for doctors outside hospital

If the patient is hallucinating or violent, give chlorpromazine, 50-100 mg (adult dose), intramuscularly.

If cannabis has been injected

Monitor breathing, pulse, blood pressure, temperature. Supportive care, including oxygen and mechanical ventilation, should be given as needed:

* Low blood pressure should be treated by keeping the patient lying with the feet higher than the head; intravenous fluids can be given.

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