We’ve gathered four of the most common myths about marijuana and its purveyors and debunked them with facts for your (and perhaps your concerned aunt’s) convenience.
Cannabis’ surge in popularity, accessibility and acceptance over the past several years has been a wonderful thing for stoners everywhere, but it’s not without its consequences: it feels like we’re constantly fighting against a tide of misinformation, false assumptions and straight up myths. We’ve gathered four of the most common myths about marijuana and its purveyors and debunked them with facts for your (and perhaps your concerned aunt’s) convenience.
Cannabis smoke can cause lung diseases or cancer
Many cannabis naysayers will use the idea of cannabis smoke being as harmful, if not more harmful, than tobacco as a crutch to their arguments. A study led by Dr. Donald Tashkin at UCLA has proven this is simply untrue: the study showed that smoking cannabis does not increase the risk for serious lung diseases like lung cancer or emphysema. In fact, the anti-cancerous effects of the cannabis plant have been touted frequently by medical researchers. While it’s worth noting that Tashkin’s research did identify a few negative outcomes of long-term cannabis smokers such as sore throat, wheezing, and cough, these outcomes pale in comparison to the dangers of cigarette smoke, and can easily be remedied by using cannabis in different ways such as vaping, tinctures or edibles.
Cannabis is addictive
The debate about whether or not cannabis is addictive has been a hot-button topic for several years, especially following its legalization in different parts of the world and more and more people using it recreationally. The Science of Marijuana, a book by Leslie L. Iverson (pharmacology professor at the University of Cambridge), reports that only 9% of cannabis users will develop an addiction to it. Marijuana is much less addicting to other substances: it’s estimated that 32% of people who smoke cigarettes, 23% of people who use heroin, 17% of cocaine users, and 15% of alcohol drinkers will develop a serious addiction. Marijuana is also significantly easier to quit if desired, compared to cigarettes or other substances.
Cannabis is a “gateway drug”
The term “gateway drug” was coined in 1984 when Ronald Reagan was in office and the war on drugs was at its apex, and assumes that people who smoke weed have a higher likelihood of picking up harder substances like cocaine, heroin and meth. This study debunks that myth: while yes, marijuana is often the first illicit substance people experiment with simply due to its ubiquity, there is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs. In fact, it’s often found that the first two substances used by people who have developed serious addictions to Class A drugs were alcohol and nicotine, which are the two most common substances that are abused.
Cannabis smokers are deadbeats
You’ve heard it waxed poetic hundreds of times: people who smoke weed are lazy, live in their parents’ basement, can’t hold down a job, and are generally going nowhere with their lives. This is a damaging assumption about cannabis users, and utterly untrue: the vast majority of pot smokers are highly-functioning, often very successful members of society. In fact, many of our world’s geniuses, visionaries, and celebrities use cannabis: Steve Jobs was known for smoking weed regularly to enhance creativity and relax, and Bill Gates touted marijuana as his “pharmaceutical of choice” while he was building Microsoft. Barack Obama said he smoked a lot of weed as a young person, and Carl Sagan was an passionate advocate for legalization. Rihanna and Madonna are both very open about their enthusiasm for the plant. Even Shakespeare might have smoked the stuff: researchers found clay pipes with traces of cannabis in the garden of Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-on-Avon, dated to the 17th century, which is the same time Shakespeare was around.
So, next time someone tries to warn you about the “devil’s lettuce”, show them this article. You might just make a believer out of them, or at the very least, open their mind up a little more to the wonder plant that is cannabis.