“If you substitute marijuana for tobacco and alcohol, you’ll add eight to 24 years to your life.” —Jack Herer
The United States has a long and problematic history with the cannabis plant. As far back as the colonial era, American production of hemp was not only encouraged by the government, but was prominently grown by several of the founding fathers (Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington to name a few). It wasn’t until the 1930s when Henry J. Anslinger, the founding commissioner of the Treasury’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, began his rampant campaign for the prohibition of cannabis—citing extremely racist commentary such as “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races,” and baseless claims such as, “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.” We may look at these quotes today and think what a bunch of racist nonsense but you would be surprised how many of those attitudes still exist today about the plant. Much of our society’s misunderstanding about cannabis is founded on lies and claims that have been debunked by decades of research and science. This article will serve to debunk some of the myths that have surrounded cannabis for nearly a century.
Myth 1: Commercial cannabis isn’t as strong as it used to be.
You have probably heard this one before from older, generational, users of cannabis. The fact is that the cannabis that is being cultivated is significantly stronger than any other time in the history of the plant. With multiple advances in chemistry, genetic shaping, and farming practices cannabis potency has increased significantly!
Myth 2: You can’t overdose on cannabis.
But it won’t kill you! This is a particular favorite argument of cannabis advocates (I’ll admit that early in my education I was told the same myth and spread it myself.) This myth comes from the misunderstanding of what “overdosing” means. The simple answer is that an overdose is taking more than a normal or recommended amount of ANY substance. Several factors go into this experience including your bodyweight, tolerance, amount taken, and even bioavailability (absorption). This does not mean that cannabis is unsafe to consume, vape, or smoke! In fact, in moderate amounts cannabis can provide you with many positive effects and benefits for your health and wellness. Each person is different and each body is unique so it’s important if you are a first time cannabis user to not only consult your physician but also to start slowly with low doses!
Myth 3: Cannabis can turn you into a criminal or can lead to violent crime!
Consuming a cannabis gummy or taking a hit from a pre-roll doesn’t automatically turn you into Al Capone. Numerous studies have been conducted trying to show a correlation between cannabis use and violence but results are very much inconclusive. One research study even concluded that the level of cannabis use has no direct link to increased violence or property crime.
Myth 4: Marijuana is a gateway drug.
Believe it or not, a U.S. Department of Justice study concluded in a 96 page document that there is no causal link between cannabis use and the use of other illicit drugs. Many conservative or anti-cannabis use this argument to attempt denying safe access legislations in several states but the research shows that causation does not imply correlation in the case of narcotics users. Another relevant study by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that addresses this myth directly!
Myth 5: Cannabis is dangerous!
Numerous studies have shown that cannabis is less harmful to users than alcohol and tobacco. The idea that cannabis is a dangerous substance is a large point of contention without any basis in facts. This is a hotly debated issue, mostly carried by anti-cannabis organizations or conservatives that are attempting to use the same tactics that Anslinger used when crusading against the plant!
No More Reefer Madness!
These are just a few of the myths that surround cannabis. There is a lot of noise surrounding the plant but we urge you to always do your research and challenge outdated and prohibition-era propaganda. It is only in the last couple decades that people are becoming more interested in cannabis and it’s incredible health benefits. Cannabis has become a popular alternative for athletes, health and wellness minded individuals, and even people who are looking for a better alternative to manage pain. Cannabis is becoming more accessible too, almost exclusively based on word-of-mouth. As a staple ingredient in wellness products cannabis is easily accessible to so many people who need a little help finding relief.
Resources & Citations
- Kelly, Annie (September 27, 2006). “Hemp is at hand”. The Guardian.
- Wren, Christopher (April 1, 1999). “U.S. Farmers Covet a Forbidden Crop”. The New York Times.
- Wasserman, Harvey (January 29, 2009). “This President’s Day, Remember that George Washington Raised Hemp & Probably Smoked it”. The Huffington Post.
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