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Debunking These 5 Common Myths About Weed

The beliefs and superstitions surrounding marijuana are numerous and almost ingrained into its use as much as the classic stereotypes. From “reefer madness” to hallucinations there is no shortage of stories regarding interesting, and nearly supernatural, effects people experience after using marijuana. In this post, we will take five common myths and break down why or if people may experience them. 

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Myth 1: Weed Can Cure Cancer

There have been several articles floating around social media showing research papers that have found tumor reduction supposedly caused by marijuana use. One such article was published in 2009 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation [1]. While it is true that the paper describes a reduction in cancer cells when exposed to THC, there are several problems with using it as proof of a cancer cure.

To start, as with many research papers, this experiment describes a very specific case. This is not to say that the results cannot be expanded upon or used to draw conclusions, but liver cancer is very different from pancreatic cancer is very different from brain cancer, and a way of combating one type may not necessarily work on another. The number of individual experiments is also very low, only two in some instances. As it stands, more studies are being planned on human participants, but there is yet to be a universal conclusion on its efficacy.

Myth 2: Weed is a Gateway Drug

The belief that marijuana use leads to the abuse of harder drugs has been around for decades, and the true pattern may be harder to understand than originally thought. Research shows that rats who have been exposed to THC show stronger responses to other drugs [2], meaning that after exposure to THC, other drugs have heightened effects. It has also been shown that marijuana users are more likely to later develop alcohol use disorder later [3]. Though this may seem damning, the vast majority of marijuana users do not go on to use other drugs or harmful substances. It is currently believed that though there may be a correlation between marijuana use and the use of other drugs, it is not causational, and may be due to other variables, such as interacting with others already using other drugs and the environment in which marijuana was previously bought and sold. 

Myth 3: All Weed Can Get You High

This one is simple, the idea that all marijuana can get you high was borne from recreational users, most of which were looking to get high themselves. If this is the case, then most people who previously bought and used marijuana prior to legalization were likely buying recreational, high-THC marijuana, and it was this THC that was causing them to feel high.

THC, short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of many cannabinoids produced by the marijuana plant. It is also the chief psychoactive compound responsible for the famous marijuana high. The sensation is caused by THC molecules binding to the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors, causing many profound downstream changes both physically and mentally. However, if a strain of marijuana were to have no, or very little, THC, then this effect would not occur. Surprisingly, this has already happened, with hemp having little to no THC and some companies producing CBD-only marijuana. 

Myth 4: It is Impossible to Overdose on Weed

Again, this one is a bit more technical. While it is believed that it is not possible to consume a lethal amount of marijuana, the medical definition of an overdose is as follows: An overdose is when you take more than the normal or recommended amount of something [4]. This can lead to death under certain circumstances but can also be milder. In the case of marijuana, ingesting too much can cause paranoia, confusion, and irregular heartbeat, and, while the consumption of marijuana itself cannot lead to death, the side effects of an overdose put the user at an elevated risk. 

Myth 5: Weed Has No Harmful Side Effects

Marijuana has many incredible and helpful use cases for a wide variety of people, but there are some scenarios where using marijuana can be dangerous if not moderated or controlled. For example, marijuana is often used by people with insomnia. Marijuana has been shown to effectively help people fall asleep faster, so it makes sense why people may pick up the habit. It has also been found that marijuana may reduce the number of nightmares experienced by people with PTSD, allowing them a better night’s rest. However, it has also been shown that marijuana use can reduce sleep quality, resulting in a groggier morning. If taken ritualistically over time, it may also result in dependency, and the user may have trouble falling asleep when they try to sleep without marijuana.

In Conclusion

These is no doubt that marijuana has been subject to criticism and misunderstandings, leading to many people believing some ideas which are less than accurate. Some of these myths paint marijuana in a positive light while others deem it harmful, and both may contain a bit of truth. It is likely that these myths will continue to be changed and reworked as more information becomes available and marijuana use becomes more common, but for now it is important to speak with physicians and licensed workers about any questions you may have regarding marijuana to get the most up-to-date and accurate information. 


Cited Works

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673842/

[2] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s002130100875

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26875671

[4] https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007287.htm