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AKA Weed, Ganja, Puff, Draw, Herb, Sensi, Bud

Mar 21

The Drug

Skunk is a stronger strain of cannabis which is grown hydroponically (without soil). A few years ago most weed was imported but now 80% of the market is grown in UK often in houses or basements which have been converted into small cannabis growing factories.

Skunk is made up of the green leaves and ‘buds’ of the plant, known as weed, rather than the solid, brown resin (hash). It is called skunk because it has a strong cannabis smell.

It is smoked in a spliff or a joint usually with tobacco and gives an intense high, it is about twice as strong as hashish but can be much stronger. It creates a sense of well-being and mild euphoria but is not always pleasurable; many people can feel paranoid and self-conscious after taking it.

Skunk is very high in THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the active ingredient of cannabis. Other traditional strains of cannabis also contain CBD (Cannabidiol). The two chemicals give opposing effects. Generally THC is the intense, psychoactive high whereas CBD helps keep you calm.

There have been reports of links to schizophrenia and psychosis. Although not causal, certainly skunk’s high THC means it is more damaging to mental health than lower strengths particularly for younger teenagers. It is more addictive. Regular (daily) smokers can, over time, develop a level of psychological addiction which over longer term can become a physical dependence. About five percent of people seeking drug treatment are for cannabis dependence.

It is a Class B drug. Cannabis was Class C between 2004 and 2009 but was reclassified back to B. It is sold in eights (£20) and quarters (£40) of an ounce. It is mostly sold through friends but there is also substantial amount of street-dealing.

Also known as: weed, ganja, puff, draw, herb, sensi, bud


Cannabis (skunk) makes people feel very relaxed, makes the ordinary appear absurd, accentuates pleasure from conversation and music. It also causes sleepiness, loss of concentration and short term memory loss. It can lead to confusion, paranoia and anxiety. A high dose can lead to hallucinations. After trying it a few times, the effects become more familiar and it is easier to judge how much is too much. It can be eaten as well as smoked and the effects are stronger. Cannabis smokers’ eyes can appear blood-shot. It raises the heart rate and blood pressure. Cannabis stays in your blood stream for up to a month because it is absorbed by the body’s muscle fat and is not washed out of your system in a day or two like stimulants. Cannabis affects driving skills – it is not safe to drive after taking cannabis and it just as illegal as drink-driving. There is now a roadside police test to detect whether you are driving under the influence of the drug.


Cannabis harms are generally lower than stimulants like Mephedrone and cocaine. It is also much less addictive. But it can be very debilitating to your outlook. Regular smokers will find smoking skunk effects their work and study by being generally de-motivating also with a loss of ambition. It can also have a negative effect on relationships with friends and families. It is invariably smoked and in a way that is more harmful than smoking a cigarette so not for those who suffer asthma.

Mixing skunk with alcohol can make you very spaced out and feel very sick – also more vulnerable to self injury.

Be Safe

There is a much bigger risk of worsening existing mental health problems by taking skunk. The risk is greater the younger the person is when they start, how regularly and how much they smoke, how early their first smoke is.

So try not to smoke every day, don’t smoke in the morning and avoid binges. Younger teenagers with developing brains who smoke skunk are risking reaching their full potential.

It is best to avoid excessive alcohol when smoking skunk – the intoxicating effects are much greater. It can lead to greatly reduced co-ordination and higher risk of personal injury.

The Law

Cannabis is a Class B drug which means it is illegal to possess, sell or grow.

If you are over 18 and caught by the police in possession, you may be offered a street warning which is not a criminal record and is not held on the police national computer (PNC). You may alternatively be asked to pay a fixed penalty notice, like you would for a speeding ticket. This is not a criminal record but details are held on PNC.

You could still be arrested and charged if you are not co-operating, are with people under 18, or near a school.

The police have power to arrest you if you are under 18. Once arrested you would be taken to a police station. You are presented to the custody desk sergeant with the arresting officer. You would be required to give a DNA sample (swab from inside of the mouth). You would be photographed. You would be interviewed by two officers who would complete details on several forms. It is advisable to be as honest as possible. If they suspect you are not telling the truth then it will take much longer. It may take about 3 hours in total.

Is hash better to smoke than skunk?
THC is more concentrated in hydroponically grown varieties of skunk and cross-bred strains that now dominate the UK market. Previously (10-15 years ago) the most popular cannabis was imported Moroccan hash. Skunk has a high THC content (15%) compared to hash (5%). People who smoke hash for a mellow high have a lower probability of drug-induced psychosis as it contains cannabidiol (CBD) (the main chemical ingredient that offsets paranoia), a chemical that has been eliminated from skunk. Hash appears to be less addictive.


Did You Know…?

Getting a police caution is still a criminal record. A warning for cannabis possession is not.


About five percent of people seeking treatment are for cannabis dependence.

Skunk is about twice the strength of normal cannabis.

Source: Cannabis Classification and Public Health (2008)

Cannabis use among 16-24 year olds has almost halved since 1998 (28% to 15%).

Source: Drug Misuse Declared: Findings from the 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales

Cannabis is the most commonly drug by young people in the last 12 months (15.7%), followed by powder cocaine (4.2%) and ecstasy (3.3%).

Source: Drug Misuse Declared: Findings from the 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales