Part of removing the negative stigma associated with marijuana can start with debunking some of the most common myths that people have come to believe as true, when it comes to the effects, traits of users, and impacts of consuming the substance. These myths have resulted in unfair judgement, skepticism and heavy criticism upon the plant and those who use it, based on inaccurate and embellished ideas that have been cultivated within society and are now believed to be true, even though they are far from being so.
Myth: You Can Easily Pick Someone Out Who Smokes Weed
Those who are naive to the cannabis culture might think that they could easily pick a person out from a crowd, of whom they believe to smoke pot, simply based on their appearance only. Pop culture has definitely created an over-exaggerated archetype of what a typical pot head supposedly looks and acts like through TV and film characters, however these representations are far from accurate. Instead of thinking about stereotypical characters like Cheech and Chong when classifying people into the category of weed smokers, society should instead take note of the many talented, smart and professional humans around the world who certainly don’t look or act anything like what a supposed “pot head” does. This can be observed from simply stepping inside a local dispensary and taking note of the vast variety of visitors present at any given time, or by taking a look at artists, celebrities, directors and writers alike, who use marijuana to influence and increase creativity in their profession. No, not all stoners have shaggy hair, wear knitted ponchos and spend their days sprawled out on a couch surrounded by a table full of munchies. Furthermore, pot doesn’t make everyone who smokes it lack motivation, as proven by the amount of people who exercise, write, direct, conduct business, or partake in some other activity requiring thought and energy following the consumption of cannabis. Cameron Diaz, George Clooney, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Aniston, Sting, Whoopi Goldberg and Stephen Colbert are just a few of the many celebrities who have admitted to smoking pot frequently throughout their lives’, and continue to vocalize their support for legalization. Now, do any of the people mentioned above fit the stereotypical appearance of a person who smokes weed?
Myth: Marijuana Kills Brain Cells and Causes Brain Damage
Health risks resulting from marijuana use has always been a favorite topic of discussion for those who are not supporters, or not in favor of legalization. Good news for stoners out there who are trying to defend themselves against these types of people however, because it appears that an increasing amount of research and studies are showing that long-term and frequent marijuana use does not kill brain cells, or damage the brain in any manner. After a study came out in 2014 claiming that ingesting weed can lead to structural damages in the brain, the Journal of Neuroscience attempted to replicate the findings and were unsuccessful time and time again in a series of controlled studies. A direct quote from the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society published by Cambridge University states, “No statistically significant differences were found between daily users and nonusers on volume or shape in the regions of interest. In sum, the results indicate that, when carefully controlling for alcohol use, gender, age, and other variables, there is no association between marijuana use and standard volumetric or shape measurements of subcortical structures.” Another study conducted by doctors at the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research Center at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine compared the brains of 700 regular marijuana users with 484 non-users to see the differences between the two. They documented reaction time, language and motor skills, reasoning ability, memory, and the ability to learn new information from all of the participants, and surprisingly, found differences that were extremely minimal. Researchers also compared test scores and thinking in general between the two the two groups, and once again, the end products were very similar, almost no difference. It seems as though nowadays, doctors and researchers are even highlighting the ways that marijuana can help with brain diseases and health risks, such as Alzheimer’s, instead of speaking negatively about its effects.
Myth: Marijuana is a Gateway Drug
We’ve all heard this statement before, but unfortunately for those who believe this to be true, it’s not, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse can officially back that fact up. Sure, someone who is currently using hard drugs like heroin and meth probably smoked weed before ever doing so, but they also probably drank alcohol too, and no one calls that a gateway drug. What’s really happening, is the fact that weed is extremely prevalent and popular across the entire U.S., making it easily accessible and available to those who are seeking a mind-altering experience. Marijuana isn’t the gateway, some people are just more into experiencing the effects that it provides, effects which are more intensely provided by some harder drugs as well. In fact, the 2014 study done by NIDA proved this gateway theory to be completely false with results showing that while marijuana use has increased in recent years among adolescents, the use of heroin, meth, and cocaine within this same age category have all significantly dropped.
Myth: You Can Overdose on Marijuana
Nope. While consuming very large doses could potentially lead to some negative side effects, especially for someone who hasn’t experimented much with pot before, these symptoms are only temporary and will eventually wear off. No one has ever died as a result of ingesting too much marijuana, and for someone to even come close to doing so, they would literally have to consume 40,000 times more than what’s considered to be the “normal” amount. According to the National Cancer Institute, cannabis and cannabinoids cannot cause a person to stop breathing, based on the pathways and receptors that it acts on upon entering the body.
Myth: You Can Get Stoned From Eating Raw Weed
There are plenty of COPS episodes featuring a criminal in their last moments as a free person, desperately stuffing all their marijuana stash into their mouths in an attempt to not get charged with possession. However, while it’s likely that these suspects are high as a kite while in the back seat en route to the slammer, it is not as a result from eating their last, precious nugs. Eating weed is a great concept, but it really only works if it’s heated and combined with a fatty source, hence how edibles like cannabudder, were created. If your weed is uncooked, it’s best to stick to smoking or vaping it.