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Top 10 Marijuana Myths Debunked
Contributor: John Falcon
Following the increasing popularity of marijuana and the growing number of states moving toward legalization, it befits us a society to address the many myths and misconceptions associated with its use. We can agree that the first step toward comprehension is clarity. To understand the truth, we need to distinguish myths from facts.
Hot topics like marijuana receive much attention. You hear many different, even contradicting, so-called facts; rumors, for the most part, that cannot be relied on as truth. Friends, family, co-workers – almost everyone has an opinion, an experience to share. Most people have either read or heard something completely improbable about marijuana. The type of comment that makes you scratch your head and ask: “are you sure about?”
To say marijuana is a misunderstood substance would be an understatement. In fact, misinformation and lies have shadowed cannabis since before its official prohibition. Today, we still have much to learn about the benefits and long-term effects of recreational and medicinal marijuana use. Thus, on that note, the time has come to debunk ten of the most notorious myths about weed. Some might sound familiar, others can come as a surprise. Either way, here you have it, the Top 10 Marijuana Myths Debunked!
1. Weed Kills Brain Cells
One of the oldest myths about marijuana. Thankfully, it has long been debunked. Medical research has shown that long-term and even daily marijuana use does not cause permanent brain damage (alcohol, however, does cause brain damage, and is legal all over the world). Nevertheless, even though no evidence of pot killing brain cells exists, responsible use is advised. Marijuana has been proven to cause persistent short-term memory deficits in chronic users. Like with all things that make you feel good, it’s best used consciously and in moderation.
2. Marijuana is Addictive
Technically, still a myth, though not nearly as clear-cut as the previous entry. Without a doubt, a very controversial topic. On one hand, marijuana does not create a physiological dependence like alcohol, cocaine and opiates. On the other hand, it can and does produce a serious mental dependence where everything you love about life becomes associated with weed, making it an unhealthy habit when consumed irresponsibly. Regardless, compared to other drugs, including alcohol, marijuana is not difficult to stop using.
3. Marijuana Causes Cancer
The largest study on this topic concluded that smoking marijuana, even on a daily basis, does not lead to lung cancer. It’s true that cannabis smoke – like tobacco smoke – contains carcinogens, yet no association was found between marijuana use and lung cancer. Keep in mind, however, that smoking anything is always bad for your lungs. Some doctors believe that marijuana has similar effects on your lungs as tobacco, even if there is no direct proof of marijuana causing lung cancer. The good news is, there are many other fun ways to consume cannabis.
4. All Marijuana is the Same
Only someone who has never been in contact with marijuana can utter such a statement. Here is the deal: most, though not all, scientists agree that two species of marijuana plants exist: indica and sativa. Chemically, these strains are different in their composition of THC and CBD, as well as their balance of flavonoids and terpenes. The sativa plant is believed to create a cerebral high that feels energizing and uplifting, while the indica effect is more relaxed and laid-back, ideal for relieving pain, reducing anxiety and aiding sleep.
5. All Pot Smokers are Lazy
Some people criticize marijuana by saying it kills your ambition. Even today, the media tends to portray the typical pot smoker as someone glued to the couch, watching television, surrounded by clouds and junk food. The truth, however, is that different strains of marijuana affect different people in different ways. For example, if you are already prone to laziness, a potent indica strain will probably leave you with a serious case of couch lock. Sativa strains, on the other hand, provide an invigorating sense of energy that some people use as motivation to be productive and get stuff done.
6. Marijuana is a Gateway Drug
Another clichéd myth about smoking marijuana, used particularly to scare away curious teenagers. Does this sound familiar: “start smoking weed and soon you’ll be doing hard drugs every day.” Despite what your junior high school teacher said, marijuana does not lead to crack cocaine and heroin. In addition, the gateway myth poses a logical fallacy: since marijuana is the most used illegal drug in the world, a large portion of the population should be consuming hard substances. Right? Obviously, that’s not the case. The large majority of marijuana users do not move on to heavy drugs.
7. You Can Overdose on Weed
Marijuana consumption, in and of itself, is never life-threatening. In contrast, legal prescription drugs and alcohol cause thousands of deaths each year. The next time someone says you can overdose from smoking too much weed, tell them that’s simply not possible. Nevertheless, that’s not a green light to go crazy. Consuming too much marijuana (especially when you are not in a good place mentally) can lead to unpleasant experiences. Depression, paranoia, anxiety and panic attacks are all real symptoms of marijuana abuse. If, of course, you already suffer from these conditions, smoking marijuana can make them feel much worse. Bad? Yes, but you will not overdose.
8. Smoking Weed Will Turn You Into a Criminal
Why is that, in the movies, criminals are always depicted as weed smokers? While it could be argued that criminals are more likely to consume drugs, getting high will NOT send you spiraling into a life of crime. In fact, one study shows that when states on the Mexican border legalize medical marijuana, violent crime goes down. For the most part, the effects of marijuana do not lead to aggressive behavior, unlike alcohol, which has always been linked to violence. Keep in mind, however, if you get busted with marijuana in a state or country where it’s outlawed, you could, from a legal perspective, be qualified as a criminal. So there’s that.
9. Driving While High Is Safer Than Driving Drunk
False. Driving under the influence of any psychoactive substance is dangerous. Driving requires an individual to focus their full attention on several tasks simultaneously. Even a moderate dose of marijuana will diminish your ability to divide your attention, therefore impairing your driving performance. Indeed, the chances of a car accident double while driving high. You need to be alert and concentrated, not with your head in the proverbial clouds. It’s very simple: when you’re driving, don’t smoke; and when you’re smoking, don’t drive. Follow this rule and live a longer, better life.
10. Marijuana Makes You Creative
While it’s true that many artists use marijuana as a source of inspiration, that doesn’t necessarily mean that weed is making them more creative than they already are. Creativity, inspiration, imagination, vision – these things come from within, not from a plant you smoke. One study, however, shows that cannabis use does increase divergent thinking, which is a measure of creativity. Nonetheless, marijuana is certainly capable of creating the illusion of enhanced creativity, which might explain why so many stoner artists often get a little too creative with their work. So creative, in fact, that nobody in the world gets it except them.
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