3 Marijuana Myths Debunked
3 Myths About Marijuana that Need Debunking
As we all know, marijuana is quite the controversial topic. After all, it is a psychoactive drug whose potential benefits (but also potential detriments) are not fully known. And it still isn’t widely accepted, mainly due to it still being designated as a drug. That being said, both alcohol (which, for the record, was illegal in the US back in the day) and tobacco are technically drugs AND socially acceptable even though we know that they can be quite harmful to your body. But that’s an entire conversation in itself (and one for another day).
There’s one common obstacle to marijuana becoming socially acceptable that we can conquer right now: the myths. There are numerous preconceived notions and a wealth of false information about cannabis being recirculated on a constant basis. This article will try to debunk three common cannabis fallacies.
Marijuana Myth #1: Marijuana is (not) addictive.
Some argue that weed is addictive; some argue that it simply is not. Well, which one is it?
Jason Busse, the co-director of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research at McMaster University, asserts that regular users of marijuana can, in fact, develop what is called cannabis use disorder. Cannabis use disorder is defined as the continued use of marijuana products despite presenting clinical impairment. That’s not a good thing — and it’s a bit more common than you might think. However, it is worth pointing out that Busse used the phrase “use disorder” rather than “addiction”.
Addiction is defined as “a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm.” In that sense, there isn’t much evidence to support the idea that marijuana is addictive in the same sense that harder drugs like opiates or narcotics are. In line with what Busse claims, the heaviest pot users experience a “dependency”, suggesting that they form a mental attachment to weed more than anything. And if you’re still wondering just how common that is, Wil Fulton of Thrillist claims that “[a]round 9% of people who use weed heavily will grow dependent in their lifetime, as opposed to 15% of heavy cocaine users and 24% of heroin users.” Heavy marijuana consumers that experience a hefty dependency exist in a much smaller proportion when compared to hard drug users that demonstrate signs of addiction.
According to experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cannabis use disorder can devolve into addiction. “Estimates of the number of people addicted to marijuana are controversial, in part because epidemiological studies of substance use often use dependence as a proxy for addiction even though it is possible to be dependent without being addicted,” write the experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In layman’s terms, that means that dependency can be classified as a form of addiction, but only in extremely severe cases. And if you recall, not only is the line between the dependency and addiction quite blurred, J. Michael Bostwick of the Mayo Clinic plainly states that marijuana simply does not have the same addictive qualities as other substances do.
Debunked? Marijuana is not an addictive substance, at least in the way we commonly think of addiction. The bottom line is: if you consume cannabis in moderation, your chances of becoming dependent are next to nothing.
Marijuana Myth #2: You can overdose on weed.
The first step to debunking this particular myth is to clarify what an overdose is. An overdose is defined as “when you take more than the normal or recommended amount of something, often a drug.” So yes, strictly speaking, it is possible to overdose on cannabis. In this case, though, overdosing isn’t the frightening thing that it is when it comes to harder drugs (remember that scene in Pulp Fiction? It’s not like that at all for weed). In order to ingest a lethal dose of THC, you would have to consume about 40,000 times the “recommended” dose of weed, all at once. That means that you would have to “consume approximately 15,000 pounds of marijuana in about 15 minutes” to be in mortal danger, according to a 1988 petition. As Fulton of Thrillist says, “So basically, you would have to build a bong the size of the Empire State Building, stand inside of it, and breathe deeper than a yoga instructor on top of Mount Everest to even come close.”
Debunked? Yep. That one is a hard no. You cannot overdose on weed (to the point of death or mortal danger, that is).
Marijuana Myth #3: Marijuana is a gateway drug to harder, more dangerous drugs.
Another toughie, but maybe not in the way you think. Buddy T. from Verywell Mind writes, “Though few young people use cocaine, for example, the risk of doing so is much greater for youth who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse agrees with this point from a scientific point of view:
“Early exposure to cannabinoids in adolescent rodents decreases the reactivity of brain dopamine reward centers later in adulthood. To the extent that these findings generalize to humans, this could help explain the increased vulnerability for addiction to other substances of misuse later in life […]”
So, in a sense, yes, it can be the first drug that someone experiments with; it can be a social experience and doesn’t feel nearly as intimidating (or outright scary) as other drugs might. But that isn’t indicative of a causal relationship, and as the experts from the National Institute on Drug Abuse went on to say, nicotine and alcohol could be considered gateway drugs in the same way.
So in that sense, marijuana use may lead to heavier drug use because if you are willing to try one drug, chances are you’re willing to try another. You may also be around others that use marijuana and other drugs, leading to experimentation. This quality of predisposition sparked the creation of the gateway drug theory. Part of the idea of marijuana being a gateway drug stemmed from it being illegal. “Well, I’m already breaking the law, so why not?” was a common mindset in the past when marijuana was still illegal in the US (though please note, it is still federally illegal). But, just like Adi Jaffe for Psychology Today writes, “As marijuana becomes legal in essentially all states for medical use and is accepted in more and more states recreationally, it is entirely possible that this whole Gateway theory will simply no longer be relevant.” So, there’s a chance we won’t have to worry much about it in the future.
Debunked? Yep. Marijuana itself isn’t a “gateway drug” in that you are guaranteed to want to use harder drugs in the future, but it could put you in the position to try other things should you be so inclined.
Do you still have questions or concerns? What about preconceived notions that we’ve got you questioning now? There’s no time like the present to get this sorted out.
Book a tour with Green Dream Cannabis Tours today, and find out for yourself! We’re happy to answer all your questions and then some.