10 Big Cannabis Myths Debunked

For a plant that has been around pretty much for most, possibly all of human civilisation, cannabis has gotten a pretty bad rap.

Cannabis was subject to the ‘reefer madness’, a negative propaganda campaign fought for commercial and racial reasoning, and since then it has found it hard to get a fair hearing in the court of public opinion. As such there are many myths.

  1. Cannabis kills brain cells and lowers IQ

Actually all the evidence says the opposite, that promotes the growth and development of new cells (Roperh, Ismael, et al. “The endocannabinoid system and neurogenesis in health and disease.”), whilst have a neuro-protective effect on existing cells. Studies show promise for treating brain injuries, stroke and all sorts of neurodegeneration.

2. Cannabis is an addictive gateway drug

People get dependant on pot, but it’s not common. Further the withdrawal effects are closer to those of caffeine (like getting bad sleep, and not finding family guy funny anymore). And recent research shows cannabis is in fact ‘an exit drug’, with people substituting cannabis for more harmful drugs like alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs (Reiman, Amanda. “Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs.”)

Around 9% of people who use cannabis form dependence, compared with 15% of cocaine users, and 24% of heroin users.

3. Pot is a bad for driving as alcohol

“The evidence suggests that marijuana presents a real, but secondary safety risk; and that alcohol is the leading drug-related accident risk factor.” A quote from (D. Gieringer. 1988. “Marijuana, driving, and accident safety”)

Actually while it’s not good to drive stoned, especially straight after smoking, it’s considered a minor risk next to alcohol for driving.

4. Smoking pot is worse for your lungs than cigarettes

This large scale study found pot is less harmful to the lungs than cigarettes,

5. Most people that smoke it are pot heads

This is a very very pervasive myth that culture is continuously feeding with stereotypes in jokes, movies and TV shows. Only 1/5th of Americans for example who use weed, use it on a regular (semi-daily basis). The vast majority in fact use it less than once per week, less regularly than the majority of drinkers drink.

6. Weed smokers all look and act the same, the stereotypical stoner

When you actually look at people who have smoked, or smoke pot, you’ll find doctors, scientists, businessmen, politicians and people from all walks of life. The majority of people who toke, do not look like surfies and hippies.

7. Cannabis Makes People Hungry And Fat

According to the science, cannabis smokers are one third less likely to be obese (Le Strat, Yann, and Bernard Le Foll. “Obesity and cannabis use: results from 2 representative national surveys.”).

Which if you think about your friends who smoke heavily, I think you’ll see is true – they tend to be skinnier.

8. Pot smokers are lazy

Interestingly what is termed ‘amotivation syndrome’ does seem as a population trait, seem to exist within the pot smoking group. However there is nothing to tie this quality, with pot smoking. Rather than pot smokers being lazy, there are ambitious pot smokers, lazy pot smokers and it seems to be that some lazy people are attracted to it slightly more, rather than pot itself making you lazy – I guess like you might find slightly more lazy people like sunbathing, but not all sunbathers are lazy.

9. Cannabis makes people mentally unstable

There may indeed be a link between psychosis and schizophrenia onset and marijuana use. However this link is so weak, that to prevent one case, 2000 people would have to give up. Other drugs such as alcohol exhibit identical effects, and it may even be a more potent effect than cannabis given the science, but it is under studied. Even caffeine effects your odds. The strength of the effect is all about quantity and some drugs are worse than others, primarily amphetamines, not cannabis.

So in view of this, cannabis has no interesting or unique properties of causing or stimulating mental illness – rather it is much the same low effect as other drugs.

10. Pot makes teens delinquents

Actually, a study in the 1980s found pot was amongst a cluster of behaviours that the more rebellious are attracted to. That is to say it’s like laziness – rebellious people are attracted to smoking pot, pot does not make you rebellious.

As you can see, weed smokers aren’t taking drastic risks and they aren’t bad people. They are just average people, for the most part making perfectly reasonable lifestyle choices.