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|Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy|
|Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs|
|Volume I - General Orientation|
Glossary of key terms
Vague term with a variety of meanings depending
on the social, medical and legal contexts. Some equate any use of illicit drugs
to abuse: for example, the international conventions consider that any use of
drugs other than for medical or scientific purposes is abuse. The Diagnosis and
Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association defines abuse as a
maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant
impairment or distress as defined by one or more of four criteria (see chapter
7). In the report, we prefer the term excessive use (or harmful use).
Refers to effects resulting from the
administration of any drug and specifically to its short term effects. These
effects are distinguished between central (cerebral functions) and peripheral
(nervous system). Effects are dose-related.
General term referring to the concepts of tolerance and dependency. According to WHO addiction is the repeated use of a psychoactive substance to the extent that the user is periodically or chronically intoxicated, shows a compulsion to take the preferred substance, has great difficulty in voluntarily ceasing or modifying substance use, and exhibits determination to obtain the substance by almost any means. Some authors prefer the term addiction to dependence, because the former also refers to the evolutive process preceding dependence.
A substance that acts on receptor sites to produce certain responses.
Agonist neurotransmitter of the endogenous
cannabinoid system. Although not yet fully understood in research, these
neurotransmitters seem to act as modulators, THC increasing the liberation of
dopamine in nucleus
accumbens and cerebral
Use behaviour which makes users at-risk of
developing dependence to the substance.
Endogenous receptors of the active cannabis molecules, particularly 9-THC. Two endogenous receptors have been identified: CB1 densely concentrated in the hippacampus, basal ganglia, cerebellum and cerebral cortex, and CB2 particularly abundant in the immune system. The central effects of cannabis appear to be related only to CB1.
Three varieties of the cannabis plant exist: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis
ruredalis. Cannabis sativa is the
most commonly found, growing in almost any soil condition. The cannabis plant
has been known in China for about 6000 years. The flowering tops and leaves are
used to produce the smoked cannabis. Common terms used to refer to cannabis are
pot, marihuana, dope, ganja, hemp. Hashish is produced from the extracted
resin. Classified as a psychotropic drug
Refers to effects which are delayed or develop
after repeated use. In the report we prefer to use the term consequences of
repeated use rather than chronic effects.
Commission on narcotic drugs (CND)
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was
established in 1946 by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
It is the central policy-making body within the UN system for dealing with all
drug-related matters. The Commission analyses the world drug abuse situation
and develops proposals to strengthen international drug control.
Removal of a behaviour or activity from the
scope of the criminal justice system. A distinction is usually made between de jure decriminalization, which entails
an amendment to criminal legislation, and de
facto decriminalization, which involves an administrative decision not to
prosecute acts that nonetheless remain against the law. Decriminalization
concerns only criminal legislation, and does not mean that the legal system has
no further jurisdiction of any kind in this regard: other, non-criminal, laws
may regulate the behaviour or activity that has been decriminalized (civil or
regulatory offences, etc.).
The use of measures other than prosecution or a
criminal conviction for an act that nonetheless remains against the law.
Diversion can take place before a charge is formally laid, for example if the
accused person agrees to undergo treatment. It can also occur at the time of
sentencing, when community service or treatment may be imposed rather than
Modification of the sentences provided in
criminal legislation for a particular behaviour In the case of cannabis, it
generally refers to the removal of custodial sentences.
State where the user continues its use of the substance despite significant health, psychological, relational, familial or social problems. Dependence is a complex phenomenon which may have genetic components. Psychological dependence refers to the psychological symptoms associated with craving and physical dependence to tolerance and the adaptation of the organism to chronic use. The American Psychiatric Association has proposed seven criteria (see chapter 7).
Neuromediator involved in the mechanisms of
Generally used to refer to illicit rather than licit substances such as nicotine, alcohol or medicines. In pharmacology, the term refers to any chemical agent that alters the biochemical or physiological processes of tissues or organisms. In this sense, the term drug refers better to any substance which is principally used for its psychoactive effects.
European Monitoring Centre
on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
The European Monitoring Centre was created in
1993 to provide member states objective, reliable and comparable information
within the EU on drugs, drug addictions and their consequences. Statistical
information, documents and techniques developed in the EMCDDA are designed to
give a broad perspective on drug issues in Europe. The Centre only deals with
information. It relies on national focal points in each of the Member States.
Characteristic of a substance to irrigate
quickly the tissues. THC is highly fat-soluble.
Theory suggesting a sequential pattern in
involvement in drug use from nicotine to alcohol, to cannabis and then “hard”
drugs. The theory rests on a statistical association between the use of hard
drugs and the fact that these users have generally used cannabis as their first
illicit drug. This theory has not been validated by empirical research and is
Time needed for the concentration of a particular drug in blood to decline to half its maximum level. The half-life of THC is 4.3 days on average but is faster in regular than in occasional users. Because it is highly fat soluble, THC is stored in fatty tissues, thus increasing its half life to as much as 7 to 12 days. Prolonged use of cannabis increases the period of time needed to eliminate is from the system. Even one week after use, THC metabolites may remain in the system. They are gradually metabolised in the urine (one third) and in feces (two thirds). Traces on inactive THC metabolites can be detected as many as 30 days after use.
Resinous extract from the flowering tops of the cannabis plant and transformed into a paste.
Various international conventions have been
adopted by the international community since 1912, first under the Society of
Nations and then under the United Nations, to regulate the possession, use,
production, distribution, sale, etc., of various psychotropic substances.
Currently, the three main conventions are the 1961 Single Convention, the 1971
Convention on Psychotropic Substance and the 1988 Convention against Illicit
Traffic. Canada is a signatory to all three conventions. Subject to countries’
national constitutions, these conventions establish a system of regulation where
only medical and scientific uses are permitted. This system is based on the
prohibition of source plants (coca, opium and cannabis) and the regulation of
synthetic chemicals produced by pharmaceutical companies.
International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)
The Board is an independent, quasi-judicial
organisation responsible for monitoring the implementation of the UN
conventions on drugs. It was created in 1968 as a follow up to the 1961 Single
Convention, but had predecessors as early as the 1930s. The Board makes
recommendations to the UN Commission on Narcotics with respect to additions or
deletions in the appendices of the conventions.
Disturbance of the physiological and
psychological systems resulting from a substance. Pharmacology generally
distinguishes four levels: light, moderate, serious and fatal.
Cigarette of marijuana or hashish with or
without tobacco. Because joints are never identical, scientific analyses of the
effects of THC are more difficult, especially in trying to determine the
therapeutic benefits of cannabis and to examine its effects on driving.
Regulatory system allowing the culture,
production, marketing, sale and use of substances. Although none currently
exist in relation to « street-drugs » (as opposed to alcohol or
tobacco which are regulated products), a legalisation system could take two
forms: without any state control (free markets) and with state controls
Mexican term originally referring to a
cigarette of poor quality. Has now become equivalent for cannabis.
Substance which can induce stupor or artificial
sleep. Usually restricted to designate opiates. Sometimes used incorrectly to
refer to all drugs capable of inducing dependence.
Office of national drug
control policy (ONDCP) USA
Created in 1984 under the Reagan presidency, the Office is under the direct authority of the White House. It coordinates US policy on drugs. Its budget is currently US $18 billion.
Substance derived from the opium poppy. The
term opiate excludes synthetic opioids such as heroin and methadone.
Historically, the term designates the period of national interdiction of alcohol sales in the United States between 1919 and 1933. By analogy, the term is now used to describe UN and State policies aiming for a drug-free society. Prohibition is based on the interdiction to cultivate, produce, fabricate, sell, possess, use, etc., some substances except for medical and scientific purposes.
Substance which alters mental processes such as thinking or emotions. More neutral than the term “drug” because it does not refer to the legal status of the substance, it is the term we prefer to use.
Psychotropic substance (see
Much the same as psychoactive substance. More
specifically however, the term refers to drugs primarily used in the treatment
of mental disorders, such as anxiolytic, sedatives, neuroleptics, etc. More
specifically, refers to the substances covered in the 1971 Convention on
Control system specifying the conditions under
which the cultivation, production, marketing, prescription, sales, possession
or use of a substance are allowed. Regulatory approaches may rest on
interdiction (as for illegal drugs) or controlled access (as for medical drugs
or alcohol). Our proposal of an exemption regime under the current legislation
is a regulatory regime.
Society of Nations (SDN)
International organisation of States until
1938; now the United Nations.
Main active component of cannabis, D9-THC is very fat-soluble and has a lengthy half-life. Its psychoactive effects are modulated by other active components in cannabis. In its natural state, cannabis contains between 0.5% to 5% THC. Sophisticated cultivation methods and plant selection, especially female plants, leads to higher levels of THC concentration.
Reduced response of the organisms and increased capacity to support its effects after a more or less lengthy period of use. Tolerance levels are extremely variable between substances, and tolerance to cannabis is believed to be lower than for most other drugs, including tobacco and alcohol.
Characteristic of a substance which induces
intoxication, i.e., “poisoning”. Many substances, including some common foods,
have some level of toxicity. Cannabis presents almost no toxicity and cannot
lead to an overdose.
United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP)
Established in 1991, the Programme works to educate the world about the dangers of drug abuse. The Programme aims to strengthen international action against drug production, trafficking and drug-related crime through alternative development projects, crop monitoring and anti-money laundering programmes. UNDCP also provides accurate statistics through the Global Assessment Programme (GAP) and helps to draft legislation and train judicial officials as part of its Legal Assistance Programme. UNDCP is part of the UN Office for Drug Control and the Prevention of Crime.
World Health Organization (WHO)
The World Health Organization, the United
Nations specialized agency for health, was established on 7 April 1948. WHO’s
objective, as set out in its Constitution, is the attainment by all peoples of
the highest possible level of health. Health is defined in WHO’s Constitution
as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely
the absence of disease or infirmity.
Schaffer Library of Drug Policy
Major Studies of Drug and Drug Policy
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - The Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
Licit and Illicit Drugs
Short History of the Marijuana Laws
The Drug Hang-Up
Congressional Transcripts of the Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
Frequently Asked Questions About Drugs
Basic Facts About the Drug War
Charts and Graphs about Drugs
Information on Alcohol
Guide to Heroin - Frequently Asked Questions About Heroin
LSD, Mescaline, and Psychedelics
Drugs and Driving
Children and Drugs
Drug Abuse Treatment Resource List
American Society for Action on Pain
Let Us Pay Taxes
Marijuana Business News
Reefer Madness Collection
Medical Marijuana Throughout History
Drug Legalization Debate
Legal History of American Marijuana Prohibition
Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years
DEA Ruling on Medical Marijuana
Legal References on Drugs
GAO Documents on Drugs
Response to the Drug Enforcement Agency
|Drug Information Articles|
Taking a drug test:
How To Pass A Drug Test
Beat Drug Test
Pass Drug Test
Drug Screening Tests
Drug Addiction Treatment