Marijuana. Weed. Flower. Reefer. Chronic. Smoke. Hydro. Endo. Cheeba. Ganja…
Whatever you call it, cannabis is plant whose reputation precedes itself. For whatever reason, it seems as if the powers that be decided to designate marijuana as one of the nation’s worst nightmares. This promotes regulation that, essentially, turns a potentially medicinal plant into an illegal “substance”. This in turn, makes law-busters out of so many of us. Let’s discuss the wild world of marijuana myths and misconceptions.
As more and more states begin to legalize or decriminalize cannabis, heated discussions are taking place. Reporters, journalists, doctors, lawyers, senators, congressional representatives and even your neighbors has an opinion. And, take it from me, they are not all very flattering, nor are they all that factual, for that matter.
Now, I’m not saying that there is someone on every street corner, either hailing the praises of this miracle drug or railing against the terrible monster that is marijuana. I’m also not saying that all marijuana myths are 100% fact free. I’m just saying that we are beginning to see, and have been for the past ten years or so, many differing opinions about the plant that seems to have so many running for cover and hiding their first-born. Thus, we must face the harsh reality that marijuana myths will spawn.
So, what are some of these marijuana myths, you may ask? Well, here’s just a short list of some of the most notable myths of Reefer Madness.
Marijuana Myths – Cannabis is as bad for your lungs as cigarettes
Even the brightest of people still have this misconception. Especially in the 80’s and 90’s cannabis smoking was compared often to cigarette smoking; with little to no evidence. However, cannabis can treat asthma, help fight and prevent cancer, and reverse the damages of cigarette smoking according to some tests. So basically, cannabis is much safer than tobacco, and has far more benefits (including getting you high).
Cannabis is a bronchodilator, meaning that it opens up your airways, allowing for more oxygen intake, not less. One study, conducted over a twenty-year period, found cannabis users with asthma actually had increased lung function over the years. As for fighting cancer, cannabis has been shown to inhibit the growth and spread of cancer, as well as killing certain types of cancer cells. So no worries about lung cancer as long as you stay away from the cigs and stogies. Since cannabis helps with cell growth and repair it can even help you heal up if your lungs are a wreck*.
*The exception to this is if you find yourself with a cold or flu or respiratory infection. Don’t smoke then, as any smoke may increase the risk of pneumonia and bronchitis. In that case, I personally always hit up some Dayquil and Nyquil until I feel better. I’m not a doctor though and this isn’t medical advice so I’d recommend seeing a professional if you think you have some health stuff going on!
Marijuana Myths – Only unsuccessful people smoke weed
This is by far the most out-dated and ridiculous myths about cannabis use. Historically, everyone from emperors to doctors used cannabis as medication or recreation. The herb has no social standing. Everyone can enjoy it. Fortunately, this stereotype is being challenged fiercely with the wide-spread medical and recreational legalization in the United States. Lawyers, nurses, parents, grandparents, veterans, business people…all manner of individuals are coming out of the cannabis closet!
Companies like Foria and dispensaries like Harborside in California are also challenging this image by putting their own modern, clean, and luxurious branding on their cannabis products. Not every stoner is a rasta-obsessed college student! Many people of high standing in society choose cannabis as medicine, and the more legalization spreads the more evident this will become.
Oh yeah? What proof do you have?
This is the phrase you’re likely to hear from the doubters and naysayers. These myths and many more are floating around out there. Don’t fall into the trap! Look for the studies, look for the proof, and beyond anything else trust your own experiences with cannabis and those in the cannabis community. Keep an open mind and an open heart; you might just grow a little.
Here are a few studies with additional information:
Evidence of cannabis killing cancer cells: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791143/
Cannabis is a bronchodilator: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1429361/
Cannabis and metabolism: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26548604
Marijuana Myths – The munchies will make you gain a ton of weight
Oh the famous munchies. That insatiable hunger that supposedly turns health nuts into fast food freaks. Portrayed over and over again the stereotype of the hungry stoner is actually one of the more accurate. Cannabis does make you hungry. In fact that’s one of the most wonderful ways cannabis helps cancer patients: by helping them maintain a healthy weight.
But as for the average toker, well there’s no research to indicate that smoking cannabis increases BMI. In fact, studies conducted by scientists at the University of Nebraska, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center all found that cannabis users had slimmer waist lines compared to their non-smoking counterparts. As it turns out, THC actually kick-starts your metabolism by helping you produce ghrelin, a hormone that regulates hunger and also the metabolizing carbs. So don’t worry about the munchies, chances are you’re better off splurging during a smoke session than when you’re not lighting up.
Marijuana Myths – Marijuana is a Gateway Drug
No matter how many “reasons” I hear, this one is my perennial favorite. When I was just a wee, bright-faced school girl, I remember a police officer who came into my elementary school to implement the D.A.R.E. program.
Some of you can remember that program, right? I do, and I remember the song that the police officer would play for us each time he visited. Now, I won’t bore you by making you listen to the entire song, although if you want to have a blast from the past, give it a quick Google and, I guarantee you’ll head right down memory lane with this one.
When the song finished playing, I remember the police officer who was giving us our lesson would walk to the front of the class and open up this black leather briefcase. Inside were all kinds of drugs and drug paraphernalia, just sitting there, for all of us little kids to see. It was scary to see what looked like a rolled cigarette, a needle, a spoon, and a plastic bag of various things all lined up and on display. At that age, most of us didn’t know what any of that stuff was, with the exception of the thing that looked like a cigarette.
I remember what I felt like at that moment; I felt scared, really scared. And then, I remember the poster that he pulled out of that briefcase, unfolded, and taped to the chalkboard at the front of the class. It bore bold letters stating, “POT OPENS THE DOOR!”
There it was. Drilling the insidious message into our young brains, at the tender age of eight or nine. What a doozy that was. And how scary.
Today, as an adult, I recognize that this seemed more like propaganda, designed as a fear tactic, created and disseminated without proper research.
In fact, there are multiple studies that conclude that there is no concrete evidence to support the claim that marijuana is a gateway drug. That being, one that leads us to other, harder and potentially deadly drugs and addictions.
In 1999, the I.M.N.A.S., or the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences released a study. This study took a hard look at the dangers of marijuana. It was a long report, but the main point throughout was this;
“There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit substances.” 1
Many of us know this already. But when national studies, commissioned in part by the U.S. Congress, state this, it leaves you wondering about all of the other possible propaganda that we have witnessed for so many years.
Marijuana Myths – Smoking weed makes you stupid
I think we’ve all heard it before: “If you smoke pot it’ll make you stupid”. This, along with the “burnout” stereotype of the pothead has seriously damaged the modern stoners image. Cannabis is not shown to affect IQ in the short or long term. The only thing that it affects is your short term memory while you’re under the influence, and this side effect subsides with the high.
One of the main reactions of the body to consuming cannabis is a release of dopamine, a chemical involved in cognitive processing, bonding, and the reward center. So not only can cannabis help you concentrate, it also increase the feeling of satisfaction during your task. Many patients use cannabis to treat ADD, ADHD, and Bipolar Disorder due to it’s very ability to help with concentration and completing tasks.
Marijuana Myths – Marijuana causes brain damage
Right now I have the palm of my hand slapped all over my face. *sigh*
This is probably my favorite cannabis myth of all time. See, here is what really happened. In 1974, there were a few scientific studies ordered on the effects of smoking marijuana on the brain. Commissioned by the government to support the anti-drug campaign. And by commissioned, I mean the scientist in question was cherry picked and given a specific objective. His name, Dr. Robert Heath of the Tulane Medical School of New Orleans.
He performed a series of studies with rhesus macaques on marijuana. The poor little things were strapped to a chair with a mask equally strapped on, and forced to inhale the equivalent to 63 Columbian primo weed for 5 minutes. This went on for several times a day for over 90 days. He discovered that monkeys that smoked had brain damage and that the control animals did not. Everyone was exhilarated, and this was all over the news.
However, there is a failure to mention in this paper, the amount of carbon monoxide consumption. Nevertheless, these findings and images of dissected tortured and suffocated monkey brains we the source material for marketing campaigns.
Numerous papers have since been published heavily criticizing this study, discussing the good Dr’s ethics and even pointing to gross criminal incompetence. Studies on the subject up to 2017, report that used regularly, Cannabis may even have the potential of neurogenesis. So yeah, the irony right? Using Dr. Heath’s methodology, one could argue water is brain damaging too. Unfortunately, this cannabis myth lingers on to this day.
Marijuana Myths – Pot is addictive
This one is tricky. To validate this statement, we must first define what addiction means. Entire books have been written on this subject alone. There are many forms of addiction, but in general terms, communities agree that there are two main types that define all subsets. There is physical addiction, and then there is psychological addiction.
The fear here is not in the potential psychological addiction. We, humans, are animals of habits. Everything we do is a “psycho-loop”. Think about it, that thing you like most in the world… can you smoke it? Ingest it? Social Media is seen by some as amongst the most addictive thing on the planet. So are video games. So are sports. And sex!
So the argument here is on Cannabis’ physical addiction. This is where all the fears are exploited, and putting Cannabis up against methamphetamine is utterly ridiculous.
The Global Drug Report of 2017, possibly the biggest study conducted so far following strict university-grade protocols and comprising of nearly 120,000 individuals across 50 countries – suggests Cannabis is, in fact, the second least addictive and dangerous drug of all illegal drugs.
Marijuana Myths – Pot smokers lack motivation
This one is easy. Whoever suggests this to be true likely doesn’t smoke weed. While everyone recognizes that the “couch-lock” phenomenon exists, that does not mean it is the cannabis alone. In the same way smoking a joint can make you have creative ideas, it does not mean smoking marijuana will make you a rock star.
Listen, all you really need to do is to go to a Cannabis convention. You will find thousands of active people running some very serious businesses that depend on intense mental and physical labor. Day in, day out – and they all love smoking pot. Some people can work on weed, others can not – so if you are of the latter group – do not smoke and work!
It is that simple.
A sativa will be uplifting and perfect for daytime, indicas are more sedative and great at night. So maybe just switch strains and test? I’m a nerd so I have my periodic table of cannabis poster
I have lost count how many times I found myself without weed and still felt couch-locked, lazy and thought “nah, I’ll deal with that tomorrow”.
Let’s say you smoke a huge bong of the strongest indica, and someone offers you a million bucks to go outside. I would bet you would never say “naaah, I’ll deal with that tomorrow” – see what I am getting at?
Cannabis will not make you lazy. Cannabis is a natural mood enhancer. If you tend to be lazy, cannabis will enhance that. So don’t go blaming the weed, man.
Marijuana Myths – Cannabis/Marijuana Will Kill You
Here is a myth that floats around, seemingly, just for effect. If you stop to think about it, this is a very serious statement to make, equating marijuana with death.
Although many would like to believe this to be a universal truth. The fact remains there is no record of a death from cannabis overdose. Anywhere. Ever. Just look it up. You’ll find nothing. Of course, there will be reports of gross misuse or drug trafficking or dealing leading to injury and, in some cases, death. But that, sadly, happens more frequently with alcohol, a much more pervasive drug and accounts for thousands upon thousands of deaths in the U.S. every year. Interesting, isn’t it
Surely you will notice that this topic keeps popping back up for more rounds of debate
No matter how many news reports are made, how many papers are published, or how many articles written – some myths just seem to linger on, generation after generation, no matter how many times they have been debunked.
I mean, seriously… The Flat Earth Society is an actual thing! It exists. It is a group of very serious (living) people who just cannot accept the world is not a pancake! Let me be clear, that is their opinion and they have every right to it. I don’t judge them for that opinion and I respect their opinion however, it isn’t one that I share. I don’t share this opinion simply because the facts are there to prove it otherwise. Just as the facts are there for marijuana use. Think I’m playing? They have books on this stuff! .
The same types of fact-denying opinions exist about weed. Cannabis was once the most important and valuable crop grown in America. Then it was demonized and vilified with a flick of a switch. The Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 was bad enough. Then came Nixon in 1971 with the War On Drugs and took things to the next level.
Governments need excuses or reasons to enforce their will. Many people feel that lawmakers create a problem where there is none, and propose a solution. In the middle of all this, insert heavy doses of fear mongering, and you are set.
The War on Drugs did a fantastic job in brainwashing an entire generation. To this day many people simply cannot accept the fact that they were lied to.
Marijuana Myths – Cannabis Has No Medicinal Benefits
The U.S.D.A. once ruled that cannabis has no medicinal benefits. They stated that it has “no accepted medical use” and should remain illegal, federally, no matter what legislation says at a state level. In fact, they even went a step further to label it a “Schedule I Drug”, equating it to heroin. Heroin?!?! Wow.
In fact, we know today, that cannabis has incredible medicinal benefits.
The cannabinoids, or chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers allow people who live with chronic pain, anxiety, and disease an alternative to synthetic pharmaceuticals otherwise prescribed.
Cannabinoids mimic these things called endocannabinoids. These are compounds that our bodies naturally produce to help maintain our internal well-being. When we use marijuana, cannabinoids fuse to various parts of our brain and tell it to bring relief. This creates a temporary feeling of peace, ease, and comfort.
There are at least eighty different cannabinoids that we know of today.
The two main players, most often talked about are THC and CBD. THC is the one that makes you feel “high”. CBD is the one that relives pain.
The misconception that all cannabis makes you feel is silly, crazy, hazy, and “stoned” is one based on fear and propaganda. When pain is concerned, many turn to CBDs to temporarily reduce discomfort, anxiety, stress, and other chronic ailments.
Why is this happening? Who knows. Perhaps it’s because cannabis is a plant that makes people them feel uncertain about how to define its parameters. From the law enforcement agency side, the numbers don’t seem readily available. It seems as if the number of law enforcement officers who refuse to even entertain the idea of cannabis incorporating into a functioning society is shrinking when compared to the number of officers who shun the idea of even responsible, respectful, legal, and reasonable marijuana users.
Sure, I imagine that there are law enforcement agencies all over the country would like to make us think that we should be fearful of the harmful effects of marijuana, and to know that, if they find us, they will catch us and make their opinion known, by way of arrest, fine, and even imprisonment.
Because of this, many people feel ashamed or embarrassed
People who are legally acquiring and partaking in the drug that will lead to “reefer madness” and beyond, often feel ashamed or embarrassed at the thought of marijuana making us all crazed denizens of slack and illicit behavior.
Although not federally recognized yet, we are slowly seeing, states recognizing the fact that cannabis is a highly medicinal plant. One that can help make the people in our country, as well as the world, feel and become healthier global citizens who can better contribute to their communities.
We have come so far. But we still have such a long way to go. Hopefully one day soon, all states will recognize and acknowledge the powerful and healing benefits of this drug that we know as marijuana. And with any luck, someday smoking “weed” will be seen in the same light as having a martini after work or grabbing a beer with friends.
Here’s to hoping,
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- Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A Benson, Jr., “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base,. ” Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999), p. 6. – Direct Link
I am not a doctor and this is not to be taken, interpreted or construed as medical advice. Please talk with a licensed medical professional about this or any conditions you have or may believe you have. The information in this article is provided as an information resource only. These are just my own personal opinions and not a prescription or a diagnosis or any form of health care whatsoever.
Last update on 2019-12-07 / I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.” / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API