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Creation Date: 1985/01/01
This special issue of the Bulletin on Narcotics is concerned with recent developments in scientific research relating to the control of cannabis - which is today the most widely abused illicit drug in the world. Evidence clearly shows that cannabis abuse can cause harm to human health, particularly to the functioning of the brain, the lungs, the endocrine and reproductive systems and the basic cell structures. Such abuse contributes to numerous industrial and traffic accidents. Moreover, the initial involvement with cannabis at an earlier age increases the risk of continuing cannabis abuse and of becoming involved with other drugs such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines.
Enormous quantities of cannabis products, such as marijuana, hashish and hashish oil, are moved by traffickers to lucrative markets in various regions of the world. From such illegal operations international drug traffickers derive huge profits, which are then reinvested both to penetrate licit economic undertakings as well as to expand criminal activities. Traffickers have recently managed to promote cultivation of more potent varieties of cannabis, which increasingly requires courts of law to take into account narcotics laboratory expertise in cannabis cases in order to determine the level of tetrahydrocannabinol in a given cannabis material.
The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, by its resolution 1984/22 on the cannabis problem, adopted at the suggestion of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, recommended that all Governments should combat systematically the abuse of cannabis and cannabis resin and intensify national and international efforts to fight the illicit cultivation of, and traffic in, those narcotic drugs. The Council, by the same resolution, recommended further that scientific research, especially long-term investigations into the effects of cannabis abuse on the human organism, should be continued and accelerated.
In pursuance of this resolution, the Division of Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations has prepared this special issue of the Bulletinto provide readers with up-to-date and comprehensive information on the results of current scientific research relating to cannabis control.
The present issue of the Bulletinincludes ten articles. The first two are mainly concerned with the harmful effects of cannabis use; one summarizes the latest advances and future directions of research on the effects of cannabis use, as discussed at a recent symposium of 125 scientists sponsored by the World Health Organization. The second, from the United States of America, presents a critique of an earlier study on ganja in Jamaica, drawing attention to evidence on the harmful effects of cannabis use. Additional evidence is provided in an article from Spain, which shows that the administration of cannabis to rats alters glucose metabolism in liver. Next follow an article from Canada focusing on international sources of illicit cannabis supply and trafficking, and another from the Netherlands describing a nation-wide survey of cannabis use and the epidemiological data on such use found in the various risk groups of young people. The three subsequent articles, two from Italy and one from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, summarizing the results of studies on the characteristics of the various cannabis plants, provide criteria for classification of such plants with regard to their intoxicant potential, which are important for the provision of supportive forensic expertise. An article from Burma presents a practical technique for identification of cannabis, and the final article from Denmark shows that cannabis plants grown on a Danish island, situated at 55°northern latitude, yield approximately the same amount of total tetrahydrocannabinol as cannabis plants grown in geographical areas of subtropical and moderate climate.