In this article we review a class of recreational substances that stem from the cannabis plant, also known as marijuana. Enjoying something of a renaissance over the last two decades, cannabis is behind only alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco in worldwide popularity as a drug, smoked or ingested by millions of people on a daily basis.
Note: The information in this article is meant to be used for research purposes and should not be construed as literal advice.
“Whatever I do, I do it better stoned.” – Unknown
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis refers to a plant with psychoactive properties, most commonly of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica species. The main psychoactive molecule in cannabis – better known as marijuana, or “weed” – is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC can be smoked, vaporized, or ingested in the form of a food product (an ‘edible’). Its consumption by humans dates back all the way to around 2000 BC, and it has been used as a medicinal product for centuries around various parts of the world. Up to 5% of the world’s population is believed to smoke or ingest cannabis on a regular basis, making it one of the most popular recreational drugs worldwide.
Marijuana, the Spanish word for the plant, first came to popular use in the 1920s, introduced to the American Southwest after the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Although it was made illegal in the U.S. by 1931 on a federal level – followed shortly by several other countries – an underground culture based around its use had already started to thrive and grow internationally. Cannabis was a big part of the counterculture revolution in the 1960s and 70s, fueling a creative movement that celebrated its ability to “free the mind” from stagnant thoughts and behavior. Along with LSD, cannabis is credited with inspiring generations of internationally popular musicians, artists, and other cultural icons.
As cannabis is extremely safe by recreational drug standards and possesses a wide variety of legitimate medical uses, a lot of the world is opening back up to the idea of decriminalizing its usage. THC, the primary active molecule in cannabis, is naturally occurring in the human brain and poses very little risk of toxicity to the body. Medical uses of cannabis range from headaches to insomnia to cancer pain treatment. It is also known to reduce the effects of glaucoma and stimulate appetite in chemotherapy patients.
Cannabis is also used spiritually, being an integral part of shamanistic experiences in India, China, Central America, and South America for thousands of years. It is even used as an aid to meditation, particularly among the Rastafari movement, which was founded in Jamaica and has approximately one million members around the world.
Cannabis is desired recreationally for its pleasantly psychoactive effects, including mild visual or auditory hallucinations, feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Giggling, laughing and feelings of a light-hearted mood are common, leading to an overall reduction of stress for many users. Though the exact mechanisms of action are poorly understood, THC – the principal psychoactive component of cannabis – is generally believed to stimulate neurochemical pathways associated with pleasure. Mentally-speaking, it is known to facilitate philosophical thinking, introspection, and metacognition, or the awareness of one’s own thought processes.
Other effects vary from person to person. Some users report feeling inhibited or shy while intoxicated on cannabis; others report feeling socially stimulated and talkative. Some experience heightened acuity and focus whereas others feel mentally cloudy and pacified. For the most part, the effects of cannabis last for about 2-3 hours, with minor, residual effects lasting up to 24 hours afterward.
The side effects of cannabis can be somewhat paradoxical and dependent on the individual. While THC has a depressant effect in the hours following its intake, causing the user to feel drowsy or sleepy in higher doses, it can have a stimulating effect in the short term, resulting in increased heartbeat, anxiety, and stress. Other common effects include confusion, short term memory loss, a distorted sense of time, decreased inhibitions and increased sex drive. Common physical side effects of marijuana use or THC consumption include drowsiness, dry mouth, red eyes, and blurred vision.
Less common side effects of cannabis use include sweating, paranoia, and panic. Long-term users may experience intermittent periods of short-term memory loss and an overall inhibition of cognitive function. Smoking cannabis also comes with problems associated with inhalation of plant material, to which some people may be allergic. Although the amount of plant required to get high is small, it can still lead to lung problems with long-term use (coughing, sore throat, etc.).
Most Popular Cannabis Products
The most commonly used cannabis product by far is the flower of the plant, also known as the bud. This is what people refer to when they use the terms weed, pot, ganja, chronic, etc. Most darknet markets have labeled the section containing this product as Flower, Buds, or simply Weed. There are two prominent types of cannabis flower: indica and sativa. Indica strains are generally thought to produce a more body-related high whereas sativa strains are more known for their ‘head highs.’ Most marijuana buds these days are actually hybrids, which means they are a combination of the two species. Flowers usually have between 10-25% THC content.
Other popular cannabis products include:
- Hash. Popular in Europe and places where marijuana isn’t readily grown, this is the dried resin of the tops of flowers from mature, unpollinated plants. It is more easily stored than regular cannabis. Hash usually has somewhere between 5-20% THC content.
- Edibles. These are food items (including cookies, candy, brownies, butter, and even beverages) that include THC and other psychoactive chemicals that have been activated by heating and extracted from the plant. Edible potency measured in terms of THC content.
- Concentrates. This includes THC oils and resins which when heated are known as “dabs.” They can be consumed in different manners (smoked, eaten, drank) and come in a variety of forms. Concentrates usually have potencies ranging from 50-90% THC.
Dosage Size & Duration of Experience
Marijuana flower is almost always measured in terms of grams and ounces. For reference, one marijuana joint (cigarette) usually contains somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of a gram, while blunts (marijuana cigar) can contain 1 gram or more. Note that a tolerance to THC can develop very quickly, meaning it will take larger amounts to achieve the same effects the longer it is persistently used. The after-effects of cannabis last between 12 and 24 hours.
Below is the average THC content for different cannabis product dosages. “Onset” refers to the length of time before the effects of the substance become noticeable, and “Duration” refers to how long the effects usually last.
|Substance||Light Dose||Average Dose||Strong Dose||Onset||Duration|
|Flower (smoked)||100 mg||400 mg||800 mg||20–90 seconds||2-4 hours|
|Edible (consumed)||10 mg||25 mg||100 mg||45-90 minutes||6-8 hours|
|Oil (consumed)||5 mg||10 mg||20 mg||30 – 90 minutes||4-8 hours|
Methods of Administration
Cannabis is usually smoked, as THC is activated by heating or combusting the marijuana flower, inhaled and processed through the lungs. Dabs and THC oils are also inhaled through the lungs. THC can also be consumed orally, in the form of an edible or liquid. It is also prescribed for the treatment of various illnesses in pill or gel cap form.
Precautions & Specific Harm Reduction
The following are some tips for how to have a positive experience with cannabis or THC-containing products, and how to minimize the severity of potential side- or after-effects.
As far as recreational substances go, cannabis is relatively tame. It is largely non-toxic and is not considered to be physically addictive as withdrawal symptoms are mild compared to truly addicting drugs. That being said, it is possible to develop a psychological dependence on cannabis, and this can become enough of a problem to interfere with peoples’ day-to-day lives. Some people are unaffected by daily use, but until you know how cannabis affects you personally, it is recommended to stick with using it in small, infrequent occurrences.
As mentioned earlier, cannabis is extremely safe to use – far safer than other commonly used drugs like alcohol, most prescription drugs, and even aspirin. The lethal dosage for THC is so high that it remains purely theoretical for humans and virtually impossible to experience. In short, no one has ever died from cannabis or THC poisoning.
The worst thing that has happened to people from consuming too much THC is a rare occurrence called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, during which the stomach has a negative reaction to an overabundance of THC in the bloodstream. While extremely rare, it can happen, especially with repeated consumption of edibles or other high-potency cannabis products.
Special Note for Edibles / Dabs / THC Oils
If you are a regular weed smoker but have never experienced edibles, we recommend starting with a small amount, perhaps 10-25 mg for a first-time experience. The act of digesting heat-activated THC, such as that found in the aforementioned products, produces an extremely potent metabolite known as 11-hydroxy-THC. This explains the difference in trip intensity between smoking marijuana and consuming it (as was traditionally done with brownies before the recent explosion of cannabis consumables). Because the 11-hydroxy metabolite is several-fold stronger than THC itself, even just a small dosage of edible, dabs or oils can be extremely powerful. So, start small.
Popular Darknet Markets for Cannabis Products
Every major darknet market carries cannabis product listings; for many it is their most popular category, often divided into several subcategories. Flower listings are often divided by cannabis specie (indica or sativa), and all are labeled by strain name, which often makes them easy to cross-reference on the internet. Some popular darknet markets with hundreds or thousands of cannabis product listings include:
- Dark0de (6777 listings). One of the biggest non-Russian darknet market for cannabis products. Listings are divided in several sub and sub-subcategories, including a huge selection of flowers, hash, concentrates, edibles, and seeds. Supports payments in BTC and XMR.
- ToRReZ (7,500 listings). Another huge market by darknet market standards, features the listings of over 27,000 vendors and categories for a large assortment of unique cannabis products, including vaping, synthetics and pre rolls. Supports payments BTC, XMR, LTC and ZEC.
- CannaHome (4548 listings). Originally designed as a North America-only specialty market for cannabis products, CannaHome opened to the rest of the world earlier this year and carries a large assortment of flowers, edibles, vape carts and distillates. Supports BTC and LTC.
- Cannazon (4500 listings). The European counterpart to CannaHome, this market does not require an account to log in which makes it easy to view their assortment of listings, covering all categories of products – including 5 sub-categories of edibles. Supports BTC and XMR.
Popular Cannabis Product Vendors
Some of the darknet’s most popular vendors for cannabis products to be found on one or more of the above-mentioned markets include:
- MedicineMan420 (UK-based, flower and hash): ToRReZ
- BestCoastBud (US-based, flower, hash, carts, concentrates): CannaHome
- SFTreats (US-based, all types of cannabis products): CannaHome
- Kdw247 (EU-only, flowers): Cannazon, Dark0de, ToRReZ
- HappyChef (US-based, flowers, edibles, and concentrates): ToRReZ
- DrRelax (UK-only, flowers): Cannazon, Dark0de, ToRReZ
- AussieDank (Australia-only, concentrates): Cannazon
- TheBudFather (US-based, edibles): CannaHome
- Ubershop (ships worldwide, hash and edibles): Dark0de
- KingOfCartsUK (ships worldwide except US, vape carts): Cannazon
These vendors have hundreds or thousands of sales under their belt and are generally considered to be among the best in the business. Keep in mind that some of these vendors will only ship locally and not internationally, so be sure to give their profile a thorough read-through before placing an order with a vendor for the first time. You’ll also want to know what the vendor expects from their customers before placing an order, as well as how long you should expect to wait before your order arrives.
More Information on Cannabis
As one of the most ubiquitous recreational substances on the planet, there are a lot of ways to learn more about cannabis. To be honest, the Wikipedia page for cannabis is a great starting point and contains a comprehensive amount of information on the plant, its history, usages, legal status around the world, and much more.
- For a comprehensive guide to cannabis use, including a plethora of research and user-reported experiences, check out the Erowid page for Cannabis, which is one of the internet’s longest-standing resources on the subject.
- Known for its encyclopedia of marijuana strains and dispensary directory, there is a great page on the art of dabbing at Leafly.com.
- There’s a great explanation of the differences between smoking and eating THC on Delish.com.
- For more info on cannabis oil, check out the dosage guide at PlantedU.com.
- A few other major marijuana information sites and forums include Marijuana.com, GrassCity.com, and HighTimes.com.