5 Myths Surrounding Cannabis
Cannabis has been used by humans for thousands of years for both medical and recreational purposes. Throughout our history it has been used and shared freely without persecution or discrimination. It is only within the last one-hundred years that we have made it an illegal substance, and all without any science to back it up. The outlawing of marijuana has largely been the result of scaremongering by industrialists and politicians, who have seen it as both a threat and a scapegoat for xenophobia. However, with the drug ongoing and increasing popularity, the scientific community has begun conducting research into exactly what marijuana does to us, and how it can be of medical use.
The finding of much of this research is quite eye-opening, and people are becoming much more aware of what this drug can do for mankind. This has led to the increasing support for the cannabis movement, and the much more positive view people now have of it. Whilst this is great and everything, there are still myths lingering about, myths that anti-cannabis campaigners and advocates are quick to spout with little to no evidence, or even a second thought.
The following are 5 of the big ones, myths that need to be realised and dispelled to end the frustration pro-cannabis advocates often face.
1. “Cannabis is dangerous”
This is probably the biggest held myth there is. Cannabis is dangerous, using cannabis will harm you – it is nonsense. To this day there has not been one recorded death resulting directly to the use of marijuana. It is true that cannabis has been an aggravating factor in death, but these instances are usually down to the danger surround its illegal trade (gang violence and trafficking), or due to accidents caused by irresponsible use. There is no evidence to suggest that the compounds it contains are actually harmful.
This leads many against cannabis to say smoking it is harmful. This once again, is a half-truth – the cannabis itself is not the problem. Smoking any plant is bad for you. The process of combustion creates toxins, which in the long run, will harm your health. However, if you vaporise, eat or drink cannabis in any of its forms, then none of these toxins are created.
We are not saying that cannabis is 100% fool proof and safe. Much like alcohol, cannabis needs to be enjoyed responsibly and in moderation. Consuming too much of anything is bad for you – even things like water. It comes down to the individual at the end of the day. But when you consider many scientists believe that alcohol and tobacco are much more harmful to both society and the individual than cannabis, it seems silly that it is illegal and these other substances are not.
2. “Marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs”
This is an argument that a lot of the public are quick to jump to, especially by those who have children trying to put forward an example of the ‘slippery slope’ drugs can be.
There is a correlation between cannabis use and the use of hard drugs. However, correlation does not mean causation. Many who use hard drugs use cannabis as well, not the other way around. In 1999, after extensive research, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences submitted a report to the US Congress explaining that there was no conclusive evidence to suggest that the use of medical and recreational marijuana acted as a gateway to harder drugs.
Some research since then even suggest alcohol is much more likely to lead to harder drug use – and if the vast majority of people can enjoy alcohol without doing harder drugs, then they can with marijuana as well.
3. “Marijuana causes brain damage”
It is widely and commonly believed that weed kills brain cells, effecting all kinds of cogitative functioning – including memory and intelligence, hence marijuana sometimes being referred to as dope. The truth could actually not be further from this. Recent studies suggest that marijuana protects brain cells from damage caused by other cell killing substances such as alcohol, and can even encourage neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells).
This goes hand in hand with the view that cannabis makes you lazy and unmotivated. Sure, some people who use cannabis do fall into this category, but at the same time, other regular users are CEO’s, run marathons, are highly educated, hold positions of power and lead perfectly normal lives. It is a case of misrepresentation by the media and thinking of the stereotypical ‘hippie’ when the term cannabis is mentioned. It is not cannabis that causes laziness. Instead cannabis is appealing to those who are naturally lazy and laidback, but it is also appealing to those who get on and are active in life. Of course, certain strains of cannabis do have an immediate sedating effect, but this does not cause long term laziness, apathy or dopiness. This is backed up by studies which suggest that there is little evidence chronic cannabis use causes amotivational syndrome.
4. “Cannabis prohibition is enforced for a reason”
This is one of the more frustration myths surrounding cannabis, although they are all pretty frustrating as it is. Many will bring up the argument that it is illegal, and must be for a reason. Well, that reason is greed and political manipulation. It wasn’t a result of scientific findings or danger that saw marijuana and its cousin, hemp, outlawed. Major industrialists whose industries were threatened by hemp lobbied to have it, and marijuana outlawed. They did this through a campaign of fear mongering, blaming crimes committed by ethnic minorities being a result of smoking weed.
What industries were threatened you may ask? Mainly the paper and big oil industries, as hemp has the potential to be used for both. It just so happened that 2 very prominent names within these industries were the biggest voices warning against the ‘danger’ of cannabis. Bear in mind the real threat was hemp, not cannabis; but cannabis was used as a scapegoat to get both substances outlawed.
It is now that people are beginning to realize they have been lied to about the nature of cannabis, and are adding their voices to those who want to see drug reform. A great example of this is Dr. Gupta, a prominent US doctor who was at first against legalization, but changed his mind once he researched the truth and lies for himself. He has even publically said that we have all been “systematically misled” on the nature of this plant.
5. “Cannabis causes psychosis”
A myth that many worry about when it comes to cannabis is that long term use causes psychosis and other mental health issues. In truth, there is very little evidence to support this, and even some completely refuting it (based on specific mental conditions). In fact, one very recent study published in the journal of Schizophrenia Research found that marijuana had no effect on the risk of developing psychosis at all – even in high risk patients.