The effects of using cannabis, and the duration of those effects, vary greatly from person to person and according to the strength used and the expectations and mental state of the user. An inexperienced or irregular user can expect the effects of one cannabis cigarette of medium strength to produce effects that will last for between two and four hours, with the effects tapering off after that.
Most users will experience a feeling of bodily warmth, which is a purely physical reaction to the drug. The small blood vessels close to the surface of the skin dilate and suffuse with blood. This gives the skin a flushed appearance and makes it warm to the touch. It also leads to the characteristic cannabis user’s bloodshot eyes known as ‘cannabis red eye’.
Users often report a feeling of relaxation, happiness and congeniality, with them taking a great deal of pleasure from the company of other people around them. If these other people are also using cannabis, then there is the potential for very pleasurable experiences. Many cannabis users make use of the drug in order to give themselves confidence in social situations and find that it helps them to mix with others and to make friends. Cannabis users often become very talkative and report that the drug has opened their minds and given them such insights that they are able to have the most wonderful conversations with other cannabis users about all sorts of subjects, including the big questions of life, love, religion and death. The truth of this is very different: we have listened many times to these conversations as sober observers and have found them to be utter drivel and to make no sense at all. A common feature of these conversations is the ‘unfinished sentence effect’, otherwise known as the ‘ums’, in which the user will forget the subject of their conversation halfway through and the sentence will tail off in an extended ‘um …’.
Some users claim that cannabis in low doses temporarily increases their powers of concentration, and many young people use it as an aid to studying and revision. They feel that the drug enables them to study for longer periods without fatigue. Most users will lose their inhibitions and do things that theywould never dream of doing when sober. In some users, cannabis raises sexual awareness; this, together with the loss of inhibitions, may lead them to have unprotected sex, sometimes resulting in unplanned pregnancy or the transmission of various diseases.