Objectivity has become very scarce these days. We could add rational thinking to this as well. Many people are quick to believe certain claims, for which we can find they have no basis after thorough research. Furthermore, statistics is being manipulated and non-relevant correlations stated as facts. However, no one is to blame as truth is hard to come by nowadays. Critical thinking and especially content analysis in a world, where average focus of an individual is 8 to 15 seconds, reached a whole new chaos level. In this spirit truth about cannabis is on the line as well.
The power of internet brought us an extremely large amount of information. A flood of information, where we can find anything, our minds set out to find. However, this information overload is destroying the quality of information as well. Users need to know how to steer between all the data they are being bombarded with. Claims about a certain topic can quickly spread and become general truths (without any basis, evidence, or research). This also happened with anti-cannabis propaganda. In this article we will review 5 biggest lies about cannabis that spread around the world.
TRUTH ABOUT CANNABIS #1: CANNABIS IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN OPIODS
Controlled substance act was developed in 1970, after the Marijuana Tax Act was assessed unconstitutional in 1969. It is then that cannabis joined Schedule 1 drug group, which already included LSD and heroin. These are substances without proven medicinal value and which are highly addictive. USA being a role model in this legislation, other countries adopted similar approach to cannabis.
In those days there was not enough evidence on safety and efficacy of cannabis in treating various conditions. However, this cannot be an excuse anymore. There are thousands of studies that prove the effectiveness of cannabis in medicine. With all these research papers the part of “no proven medicinal value” is instantly debunked. Addiction part will be reviewed under truth number 3. Additionally, it is very important to note, there are no reported deaths due to excessive use of cannabis. Of course, there are cases where people overused cannabis and did unwise things that lead to death. However, direct connection between cannabis and death cannot be made.
Meanwhile, CDC data shows that over 81,000 Americans died due to drug overdose between June 2019 and May 2020. In these numbers, opioids present a very large part, as well as heroin. In the past, politicians and researchers were not able to answer the basic questions such as:” Is a particular drug more dangerous than cannabis?”. This shows us that health, safety, and evidence have nothing to do with it. Money is the main decision maker.
TRUTH ABOUT CANNABIS #2: CANNABIS IS A GATEWAY DRUG TO “HARDER” DRUGS
This myth has been around from the 1930s. The theory suggests that using small amounts of cannabis leads to the use of harder drugs.
It is true that some toxicological reports found traces of cannabis in the bodies of people who used cocaine and heroin. However, these individuals could as well be using alcohol. Does that mean that beer is a “gateway” substance to vodka or other hard liquor?
In Time magazine one of the writers explained that members of motorcycle gangs were more likely to ride a bike in their childhood than non-gang members. Does that mean we should prohibit the use of bicycles? Cannabis is a gateway substance to heroin as much as beer is a gateway substance to liquor and liver cirrhosis.
Researchers have debunked this theory a long time ago, however it seems to stay present in the world (also among legislators and scholars). Also, the study from 2012 negatively affects the alcohol and tobacco industry. It showed that people who consumed at least one of the mentioned substances in their youth, are 2x more likely to overuse opioids compared to individuals who only used cannabis.
TRUTH ABOUT CANNABIS #3: CANNABIS IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE
The second section of the before mentioned act from #1 states, that cannabis causes very high addiction. It is a fact that some people are addicted to cannabis. However, the addiction percentage is lover compared to substances such as caffeine, alcohol, shopping, or the use of social media. It is closely connected to excessive use and dopamine system. You can read more about it here. As we can see none of the mentioned substances that are clearly more addictive is prohibited (and far from it).
There is research that concludes many other substances are far more dangerous and cause greater addiction than cannabis. This study from 1999 states, that addiction from alcohol is far more likely than from cannabis. Furthermore, other data suggest, that less than 10% of people characterised as “regular” users, are addicted to cannabis.
In 2012 the USA administration reported that one million children aged 12 or more needs therapy due to cannabis use. This implicated a high addiction rate. However, if one digs deeper, it is far from the truth. The system forced almost every offender to enroll in therapy. If not, a jail sentence would be forced upon them. Most likely even the highest cannabis addiction rate is much lower compared to many popular legal substances.
TRUTH ABOUT CANNABIS #4: WE DO NOT KNOW ENOUGH TO LEGALISE CANNABIS
Researchers intensively examined cannabis for the last 25 years in the USA and other parts of the world. The main obstacle for even more research is mostly the legal status of cannabis. As it is illegal in many countries it is almost impossible to conduct the very important double-blind clinical studies.
Even though it is hard, there are still a large amount of data on cannabis, to debunk most of the misconceptions. In 2017 the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) created a 400-page report, where they analyzed more than 10,000 cannabis studies. This is a large amount of data alone; however, it is only a tip of the iceberg compared to all cannabis research conducted. For example, for the keyword “cannabinoids” PubMed search engine finds 28,000 published results.
The NASEM report also found strong evidence on cannabis effectiveness with:
- Chronic pain,
- Multiple-sclerosis symptoms,
- Chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting.
We can find thousands of studies related to cannabis online. Moreover, we can also find studies on tobacco and alcohol, which are very negatively correlated to a person’s health. And still these substances remain completely legal and easily purchased.
TRUTH ABOUT CANNABIS #5: CANNABIS MAKES A PERSON DUMB AND LAZY
Stereotypes of cannabis user include:
- Unhealthy diet.
- Sits on a sofa all day and plays videogames.
- Has no job.
- Lives with parents.
- Wears stained T-shirts.
- Is overweight.
Although there are cannabis users that fit the above description, we could say the same thing about tobacco and alcohol users. Luckily, good old science is here to debunk this myth as well. For example, Jon Stewart and Barack Obama both smoked cannabis in the past and there are many others like them, who are extremely successful and hard-working individuals. In this way we can debunk the laziness argument, especially as there are many similar cases.
We could use the same individuals to argue the stupidity statement. However, we will rather mention a study from 2012, that researched if cannabis use in adolescence causes a drop in IQ with adults. They found that chronic use of cannabis in 20 years leads to IQ decrease of about 6 points (which could be related to other factors as well). We will not go into discussion if IQ is the best method of measuring intelligence, as this is a whole other topic. However, this study had some faults. For example, the drop of IQ occurred only in people who used cannabis at least 4 times a week for 20 years. Furthermore, socio-economic status of participants was not considered. The research clearly points to strong correlation between education level, socio-economic status, and low IQ. The statement that cannabis lowers your IQ was also debunked numerous times in subsequent studies.
On contrary, cannabis can have great results in boosting a person’s creativity. On the following link you can read more about the effect of cannabis on our creativity.
LIES ABOUT CANNABIS
We will not claim that cannabis is perfect, however there are many misconceptions with historical roots of cannabis prohibition. Some facts are just a part of ignorance, while others carry more ominous reasons with them. There is a great share of population that already believes cannabis should be legal for medicinal use. Imagine the results if everybody knew the truth about cannabis.