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Introduction

Cannabis sativa
Common hemp

Cannabis (/ˈkænəbɪs/) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. The number of species within the genus is disputed. Three species may be recognized: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis; C. ruderalis may be included within C. sativa; all three may be treated as subspecies of a single species, C. sativa; or C. sativa may be accepted as a single undivided species. The genus is widely accepted as being indigenous to and originating from Central Asia, with some researchers also including upper South Asia in its origin.

The plant is also known as hemp, although this term is often used to refer only to varieties of Cannabis cultivated for non-drug use. Cannabis has long been used for hemp fibre, hemp seeds and their oils, hemp leaves for use as vegetables and as juice, medicinal purposes, and as a recreational drug. Industrial hemp products are made from cannabis plants selected to produce an abundance of fiber. To satisfy the UN Narcotics Convention, some cannabis strains have been bred to produce minimal levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive constituent. Some strains have been selectively bred to produce a maximum of THC (a cannabinoid), the strength of which is enhanced by curing the fruits. Various compounds, including hashish and hash oil, are extracted from the plant.

In the US, "industrial hemp" is classified by the federal government as cannabis containing no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. This classification was established in the 2018 Farm Bill and was refined to include hemp-sourced extracts, cannabinoids, and derivatives in the definition of hemp. (Full article...)

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Portland, Oregon's Burnside Bridge (pictured in 2012), the site of the "Burnside Burn" event organized by the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
The "Burnside Burn" was an event held on the Burnside Bridge in Portland, Oregon, starting at midnight on July 1, 2015, the day recreational marijuana became legal in the U.S. state of Oregon. It was organized by Portland NORML, the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, having originated from its executive director, who wanted to photograph himself in front of the White Stag sign in the moments after Oregon Ballot Measure 91 took effect. The crowd, larger than anticipated, numbered in the thousands and at times blocked traffic lanes on the bridge. Some attendees wanted to commemorate the moment, while others were motivated by announcements of free marijuana and seeds. No fines were issued for consumption in public. The event was covered by cannabis publications, local and national news outlets, and the HBO television series Vice. (Full article...)

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Flowering Cannabis indica plant
Credit: Massimo Catarinella

Coffeeshops are establishments in the Netherlands where the sale of cannabis for personal consumption by the public is tolerated by the local authorities (in Dutch called gedoogbeleid). Under the drug policy of the Netherlands, the sale of cannabis products in small quantities is allowed by 'licensed' coffee shops. The majority of these "coffeeshops" (in Dutch written as one word) also serve drinks and food. Coffeeshops are not allowed to serve alcohol or other drugs, and risk closure if they are found to be selling soft drugs to minors, hard drugs or selling alcohol. The idea of coffeeshops was introduced in the 1970s for the explicit purpose of keeping hard and soft drugs separated.

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Tom Cruise at the Edge of Tomorrow premiere in May 2014

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Carl Sagan

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Cannabis in the news

7 April 2021 – Cannabis in Ukraine
The Verkhovna Rada votes to legalize the use of medical cannabis products. (Kyiv Post)

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