Is cannabis really a drug?


Go back to the Index


When we talk about cannabis we are not talking about what is not cannabis

Spain: 'Cannabis is not a drug': Spain's anti-drug czar:30 Sept 2013

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the cannabis plant and its derivatives which contain THC are classified as a Class B Drug and prohibited. Some parts of the plant, such as seeds, roots and stalks, do not fall within the Act. On the question of leaves, forensic scientists look for the presence of THC and other active cannabinoids, and if found, the substance falls within the Act. Some argue that cannabis is a drug in any case, as it can be used as a constituent in a medicine. Others argue that parts of the cannabis plant cannot correctly, semantically be called a drug at all, especially as it is neither physically addictive nor toxic in any conceivably consumable amount. The correct meaning of the word 'drug' as applied to cannabis continues to be debated; nevertheless, in British law, cannabis is a drug.

Cannabis has been described as one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man, and safer than most common vegetables - DEA Judge Young, 1988. Others describe cannabis as "remarkably safe, but not completely harmless" - Prof. Lester Grinspoon MD1997). Some even claim that cannabis is completely harmless and beneficial to man. Yet other scientists have inferred health risks involved the smoking of cannabis, mostly based upon the results of experimentation with THC extracts and synthetic THC carried out on mice, rats and monkeys. It is generally accepted that cannabis is safer than alcohol and tobacco. The question of the risk element attached to the use of cannabis will continue to be a matter for the experts, but irrespective of the answer there exists no just reason to punish cannabis users or those who grow it.

Campaigners, scientists and doctors cannot agree. Cannabis has been used for centuries, both medicinally and for the high, as well as for rope etc, long before the days of drugs and synthetics. Much of the discussion is based on dictionary definitions which change with time. Tell a Rastafarian that his sacrament is a drug and you will be in trouble! Look at a bale of hemp fibre, hemp seed oil soap, paper, cloth or seed-cake - they are all pure cannabis - and then tell me it is a drug.


Drugs are associated with addiction, habit and problems. Cannabis is associated with none of these. "Cannabis is not dope, it's everything from rope to hope!"

The following article is an extract from The Report of the FCDA Europe

Although on average approximately 75 people per annum in the U.S. are revealed by post mortem (autopsy) examination to have cannabis in their system at the time of their death, their deaths were induced by causes not associated with cannabis. In all the long history of its use of which the record dates back approximately 5,000 years, cannabis has never been cause to a single fatality. Medical records and study of worldwide pertinent writings over the millennia show that at no time has any person died from the ingestion of any amount of cannabis, ever.

Cannabis is a NON-TOXIC substance. One hundred per cent of the scores of studies by American universities and research facilities show that toxicity does not exist in cannabis. (U.C.L.A, Harvard, Temple, etc.)

All the in-depth medico-scientific clinical studies conducted (for example, US-Jamaican, US-Costa Rican, LaGuardia, etc) have revealed that cannabis contains no addictive properties in any part of the plant or its smoke, so, unlike and in contrast to tobacco, alcohol, and all the legal or illegal 'recreational' substances cannabis is both non-habit-forming and non-toxic. Therefore cannabis is uniquely safe. In this Report, let it be unequivocal and clearly understood that the use of "safe" in the context of cannabis use, by definition means,: "free of danger, risk or injury".

Cannabis Is Not A Drug: Accurate Language.

From all the medico-scientific aspects, harmless cannabis is not only wrongly defined as a "drug" in any meaningful (semantic) definition of the word but also, by definition and empirical reality, wrongly proscribed as a "drug" (or other substance) under legislation regulations.

Although dictionaries vary slightly in their definitions of "drug", virtually all refer to, and rely for definition on, a drug's habit-forming, addictive properties. Webster's New World Dictionary, for example, defines "drug" as: "a narcotic, hallucinogen, especially one that is habit-forming." As is confirmed by the aforementioned medico-scientific research, cannabis contains no habit-forming properties in the plant itself or its smoke. Evidence from the most fundamental and widely inferred meaning, by definition based on empirical fact, cannabis is not a drug.

The word 'drug' derives from Old Dutch meaning dried herbs, as used in food, for healing and in the dyeing of textiles. There was no connotation of addiction. (viz: the Wealth of Nations, 1776, Adam Smith; Book One, Chapter One). In the twentieth Century, that meaning has been transformed by the specious pseudo-philosophy of Prohibition.

The invalidity of linking cannabis with "drugs" is further confirmed by the U.S. government's Bureau of Mortality Statistics. The table, below, demonstrates in the most obvious manner that cannabis by any meaningful definition, traditional or modern, is not a drug and cannabis cannot (correctly) be categorised or referred to as a drug.


Sample year 1988. U.S. federal government Bureau of Mortality Statistics.

SUBSTANCE............................................NUMBER OF DEATHS PER ANNUM.
TOBACCO................................................................................ 340,000 to 425,000
ALCOHOL (not including 50% of all highway deaths
And 65% of all murders).......................................................150,000 +
ASPIRIN (Including deliberate overdoses) ................................................180 to 1,000 +
CAFFEINE (From stress, ulcers, triggering irregular heartbeats etc) ..................1,000 to 10,000
LEGAL DRUG OVERDOSE (Deliberate or accidental from legal, prescribed
Patent medicines and / or mixing with alcohol) ......14,000 to 27,000
ILLICIT DRUG OVERDOSE (Deliberate or accidental from all illegal drugs).........3,8000 to 5,200
THEOPHYLLINE (Prescribed asthma drug) ..........................................................50




To those people in whose (financial) interests it is to perpetuate the Prohibition of Cannabis the semantically incorrect use of the word "drug" where cannabis is concerned, is a premeditated misuse of terminology. This serves strategy advantageous to Prohibitionists, and comprises a simple but effective mechanism of disinformation, by putting the harmless herb into an unjustifiable association with addictive and harmful drugs.

The reality is clear: cannabis and those pernicious substances, the drugs, are wholly unalike. As the word "drug" is wrong and inapplicable to cannabis, it is necessary to establish a correct word, veracious vocabulary, which is fitting.

From The Report of the FCDA

Because cannabis has been loosely, widely and incorrectly referred to in the past as a "drug" does not mean that this basic untruth can become acceptable. On the contrary, since the introduction of Prohibition the legal situation compels veracity and clarity more than ever, for not to articulate the truth accurately involves perjury. Yet truthful language, the truth, exposes the mendacious basis to the Crime that is this Prohibition of Cannabis

The Australian Government Report says "Cannabis has been erroneously classified as a narcotic, as a sedative and as a hallucinogen. Cannabinoids represent a UNIQUE PHARMACOLOGICAL CLASS OF COMPOUNDS"


According to the Oxford Pocket Dictionary to intoxicate is to make drunk, excite, elate, beyond self-control. Unlike alcohol cannabis users do not lose self-control. Massive amounts just send them to sleep.

Intoxicants are potentially toxic, that is poisonous, with a certain overdose level often dependent on the individual. There has never been a single death directly attributed to cannabis use, in 5000 years of history, with hundreds of millions of users in the world. There is NO TOXIC AMOUNT OF CANNABIS. One theory states that an amount of 2 pounds eaten in ten minutes, an impossible feat and not certain to cause death. No animal has died of an overdose of cannabis.

Many substances which are mind-altering or mood changing are not drugs : hormones, endorphins, adrenaline.

Conscious-altering substance which we consume but which are not generally regarded as drugs include sugar, caffeine and chocolate.


THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is one of many active ingredients in cannabis. It can also be produced synthetically. Organic cannabis contains over 1000 other substances; like any herb it is the holistic use of the whole herb or medicine which is vital. 30 or 40 cannabinoids have been identified. Any judgement of cannabis based on the supply of THC to patients is unfounded.

Cannabis contains THC but cannabis is not THC. It is incorrect methodologically to mix in extraneous, irrelevant THC findings, or data from isolated cannabinoids, and then make false claims relating to cannabis.


E-mail WebMaster