When you want a relaxing evening at home, what’s your preference between alcohol and weed? Individuals who are in chronic pain often have the choice between marijuana and prescription painkillers. The fact that cannabis is compared to other legal substances should be enough to change people’s perceptions about the safety and effectiveness that comes with weed, but sadly that’s not the case.
Those in the cannabis community know the truth - that smoking, vaping, or ingesting weed is safer than getting drunk and far less addicting than the prescriptions that many take for medical conditions. However, what does the rest of the world think when someone references pot?
All too often, movies like Cheech and Chong come to mind, with stoners who have no filter for their behavior and, in short, act like complete morons. When people haven’t seen the truth about using marijuana, they’re left with the perpetuated messages that society feeds them, and it creates negativity toward using weed when in fact people should be encouraged.
The stigma around pot takes many shapes and forms, and most of us know them well. Let’s explore some of the most common marijuana myths out there and uncover why they’re just flat out wrong.
1. Weed is a gateway drug.
We’ve all heard this time and time again - start smoking a joint and the next thing you know you’ll be doing hard drugs regularly. More than likely, this myth is communicated by those in authority, specifically parents and teachers, to try to dissuade teens from getting high. The fact of the matter is, whether you smoke pot or not has nothing to do with your future drug use.
Rather than leading you down a dark and drug-filled road, marijuana use can actually help to increase recovery times in those who are struggling with addiction. Treatment centers across the nation find that introducing marijuana to those with opioid dependency helps to create that same “high” feeling they long for without the damaging side effects.
2. You can become addicted to marijuana.
This myth is very generalized and fails to take into consideration the nuances of addiction and the various roles that marijuana use can have in someone’s life. When you step back to examine the concept of addiction, it relates to a person’s physical and biological dependence on a substance and the difficulty they encounter when trying to stop engaging in this specific behavior.
Using that definition alone, you could say that people can become addicted to marijuana. But a deeper look reveals that instead of true addiction, some individuals experience what’s called cannabis use disorder. Found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, cannabis use disorder is associated with varying levels of severity based on each individual’s situation. From a scientific standpoint, you can say that while people do struggle with removing marijuana use from their lives, the broad statement that weed is addictive is simply an inaccurate myth.
3. Potheads are just lazy.
It’s a prevalent misconception that smoking weed glues you to the couch and you sit there day in and day out, collecting unemployment and watching television for 18 hours straight. As marijuana has become more widely accepted, more and more individuals have begun to speak out about the incredible benefits of getting high.
While some strains do impart a very relaxed feeling and could contribute to a Netflix binge, there are just as many options for a motivating and creative experience. Regular smokers know that sativas, in particular, can create feelings of euphoria and energy, allowing those with depression or chronic pain to actually get out of bed and take on the day with vigor.
4. Smoking weed kills your brain cells.
Individuals who smoke a lot of pot might always have a spaced out type of attitude and often say they forget things because they use weed too much. This might be a convenient excuse for why you forgot your girlfriend’s birthday, but in reality, there is no direct link between memory loss or negative effects on the brain and marijuana use.
Multiple scientific studies over the last several decades have concluded that individuals who consume cannabis on a regular basis do not show a drop in IQ scores over time. Furthermore, MRI scans have even been utilized by some researchers to clearly demonstrate that no differences are present between users and non-users. Unfortunately, the stigma that pot makes you stupid is a hard one to overcome, but it’s completely false.
Legalizing marijuana increases local crime.
Those who are staunchly against marijuana will use any statement and logic they can find to try to justify their reasons for keeping weed illegal. Since it’s often thought of as a drug, and a gateway one at that, pot is heavily associated with typical drug activity. Robberies and violence come to mind when certain individuals make the association between weed and crime, citing that allowing pot to become more prevalent will only increase criminal activity.
This is flat out untrue, and the FBI Uniform Crime Report has the data to prove it. They’ve noted that introducing the legalization of marijuana reduces crime rates, whereas a whopping 25 to 30% of violent crimes are related to alcohol. If you think about it, it makes sense: smoking marijuana tends to calm us down and create feelings of euphoria. Common sense tells us that you’re less likely to engage in violence if you’re stoned.
As a nation, we have a long way to go before marijuana is treated with the respect it deserves, but we’re slowly getting closer to more acceptance and reducing the dissemination of false information. It took 13 years of prohibition before alcohol became legalized, and the substance was fairly quickly adopted afterward. How long might it be before marijuana is as commonplace as purchasing aspirin at your local pharmacy?
Only time will tell, but until that day comes, it’s your job to be a proponent for marijuana and an individual who aims to educate those who falsely buy into these common myths. In fact, try bringing a friend into one of your local upscale dispensaries, like The Bakeréé, to offer a perspective that perhaps they haven’t seen before.