Weed, Mary Jane, bud, ganja, dope, hemp, and grass. Whatever you call it, you’re sure to have heard about it from family, friends, or colleagues. Of course, we’re talking about marijuana: the drug that weed lobbyists and enthusiasts have been trying to de-stigmatize for years. But despite the increasingly open attitudes regarding its use, cannabis still gets a bad rap due to some myths that still pervade the public consciousness.
Is cannabis wildly addictive, and is smoking marijuana really as bad as smoking tobacco? These are just some of the common myths that people believe about cannabis, and this article aims to set the facts straight.
Myth 1: Cannabis Increases Risks of Lung Damage
Research on the effects of cannabis on the human body is still limited, but some studies suggest that light or moderate use of cannabis does not lead to a higher risk of getting lung or upper airway cancer. However, results are mixed when it comes to the carcinogenic risks of chronic marijuana smoking. In addition, a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that long-term cannabis smoking is strongly linked to severe coughing and chronic bronchitis.
Similar to smoked tobacco, smoked cannabis contains carcinogens that may harm your lungs and airways as well as those of others through secondhand smoke. Cannabis smoke, in particular, is often inhaled more deeply than tobacco smoke, which may lead to high toxin exposure.
So even though claims of cannabis causing lung damage may be a bit conflated, it’s still a good idea to limit smoking and opt for other methods of cannabis consumption. For your next dope delivery, consider other products such as edibles and transdermal patches that offer the same benefits you might get with smoking weed. Some cannabis experts also suggest vaping, which is said to expose your lungs to fewer hazardous chemicals than non-vaporized smoke. Still, it’s best to stay cautious and monitor your smoking and vaping habits to prevent the onset of respiratory diseases.
Myth 2: Cannabis Is a Gateway Drug
One common and exaggerated myth about cannabis is that people use it as a “starter drug” before moving on to harder substances like heroin or cocaine. Many anti-pot advocates preach this belief, but this is largely false. A lot of people who use cannabis almost regularly still manage to lead normal, functional lives. While it’s true that there’s a subset of cannabis users who also partake in other drugs, the same can be said with any potentially addictive substance, be it caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, or anything else.
When discussing addiction and drug exploration, it’s important to note that substance abuse stems from various genetic, environmental, and social factors. It’s undeniable that cannabis can also be addictive, but as with other substances like nicotine and liquor, it takes responsibility and awareness of your limits to consume it safely.
Myth 3: Cannabis Causes Mental Health Issues
Another hyperbolic claim about marijuana that has been making rounds in anti-legalization circles is that it causes psychosis, which in turn leads to crimes such as assaults and murders. However, research shows that there is no clear link between marijuana legalization and instances of violent crime. Moreover, some researchers argue that these claims ignore how cannabis helps treat mental health issues like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in addition to potentially decreasing crime rates.
While there is evidence that heavy cannabis use and psychosis are linked, it’s hard to determine if one causes the other. In other words, it’s also possible that someone addicted to marijuana already has an underlying mental condition. It’s also for this reason that cannabis experts strongly advise people with a history of psychotic episodes to check with a psychiatrist before partaking in the drug.
Because weed has psychoactive effects, users might experience heightened sensations when taking the drug. If someone is having a bad trip, they will likely experience side effects such as confusion, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and anxiety. Again, it’s best to take weed in moderation and consult your doctor first if you have pre-existing physical or mental conditions.
Myth 4: All Forms of Cannabis Are Dangerously Potent
Some people feel discouraged from exploring marijuana due to the belief that cannabis has become more potent than ever. There is a grain of truth to this, with some researchers claiming that weed now contains higher levels of THC—the main psychoactive component of cannabis—than ever before. According to one study, the THC levels of cannabis samples from 2014 are drastically higher than those from 1995. The study also notes that cannabis from 1995 had roughly 4 percent THC content while those from 2014 had around 12 percent.
However, cannabis products are not just blunts, buds, and joints. The increased adoption of marijuana has led to more legitimate dispensaries offering a wide array of cannabis products in various shapes and forms. While there are products intended to induce that THC-driven high, there are also less potent cannabis products that contain lower levels of THC. For instance, you can opt for CBD products that contain little to no traces of THC. These products are great if you want to take advantage of cannabis’ capacity for relief and pain management without getting high.
Weeding Out the Myths from the Truths
From health problems to addiction concerns, marijuana has been associated with certain issues that may not be entirely true. For the most part, these myths are over-exaggerations of what cannabis is and what it might do to your body. When all is said and done, it’s best to focus on claims that have been backed by science and research than those formed by misinformation and prejudice. As long as you remain mindful of your actions and listen to the experts, you don’t have to stop yourself from exploring what weed is truly all about.