Top 10 Wrong Myths About Cannabis
Although there have been a number of refreshing conversations about cannabis in recent months - particularly those happening on Capitol Hill - cannabis still remains one of the most misunderstood substances out there. There is myth, and then there is reality; here are five of the most persistent cannabis myths.
1. Does Marijuana Cause Memory Loss?
There is no definitive scientific data stating that cannabis affects short-term memory over a long period of time. Contrary to popular belief, short-term memory is only affected during intoxication.
2. Hormone Changes
Studies conducted as far back as the 70's have claimed detrimental effects to sex hormones, but modern science has debunked these findings. Ironically, alcohol (a legal substance) has been linked to hormone changes.
3. The Non-Existent Overdose
There is no evidence that anybody ever died from a marijuana overdose. Studies conducted on mice have revealed that the necessary ratio of cannabinoids in the body would have to be 40,000:1 to cause an overdose. Compare this to the rate required by alcohol, which is between 4:1 and 10:1.
4. Brain Damage
Unlike alcohol, cannabis does not produce toxins that kill brain cells. Furthermore, use of cannabis over time hasn't even been linked with wearing out brain receptors. The truth is that marijuana has been associated with slightly increased alpha-wave activity, which is most commonly associated with a meditative, relaxed, and creative state of mind.
5. Marijuana and Reproductive Difficulties
This is another myth that has no basis in reality. An 1980's study on marijuana's detrimental effect on the sex cells of rhesus monkeys claimed that the changes could be indicative of a similar effect in humans, but to date no such evidence exists.
6. Weakened Immune System
Studies involving lab rats have indicated that, in exceptionally high doses, THC in the blood stream may potentially have an immunosuppressive effect. What this means is that the cells responsible for combating bacterial infections might be compromised. The caveat here is that the effect only takes place during intoxication, and only then if the dosage of THC has been unrealistically high.
7. Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?
This is one of the all-time favorite cannabis myths. The truth is that there is no scientific data to back up this claim. In fact, just the opposite is true. Studies performed in the United States have found that over 75% of American citizens who have used marijuana at any point in their life have never touched a "harder drug." Even more interesting: studies have also shown that people who are already hooked on harder drugs got their start with... alcohol. Once more, we see marijuana vilified instead of alcohol.
8. Marijuana vs Tobacco Smoke
Another popular myth out there states that smoking pot is more dangerous than smoking a cigarette. Quite simply, there is no truth to this. The most dangerous chemicals contained in a cigarette are carbon monoxide and tar. While these chemicals are twice as common in marijuana as in tobacco, they are consumed in far less concentrated doses. In other words, a cannabis user would have to smoke a huge number of "pure" joints over time to match the tar and carbon monoxide intake of a tobacco smoker.
9. Would Legalizing Pot Cause More Car Accidents?
Those who argue against the legalization of pot like to suggest that our highways would turn into gauntlets of mayhem if it ever came to pass. The truth, as always, is in the statistics. The data available suggests that pot smokers have about as many car accidents as people who only drink alcohol. Furthermore, 85% of people who had a car accident while under the influence of marijuana had also been drinking alcohol during the same period of time. What this means is that, as usual, correlation is not the same thing as causation.
10. Is Marijuana Highly Addictive?
Here's another popular myth: it states that marijuana is a highly addictive substance. Less than 1% of Americans smoke marijuana on a daily basis. Do you know how many people drink coffee every day? The fact is, marijuana is less habit forming than caffeine - another legal substance.
At the end of the day, there will always be those who ignore scientific fact when it's right in front of them. Even so, our country is on the verge of recognizing that marijuana is not the scourge it's been made out to be. With just a little more patience, we may see public opinion continue to change.