Debunking Cannabis Myths

Let’s get it straight.

Long before Richard Nixon’s “war on drugs” was a campaign against cannabis – it has a longer history led by Harry Anslinger in the 1930s. While many of his claims are now known to be false and openly racist, Anslinger’s push to criminalize cannabis led to misconceptions many people still insist are true today.

Those stereotypes are slowly breaking down, thanks to countless studies, growing usage and legalization. Below we break down some of the biggest myths about cannabis.

Myth: Cannabis is a gateway drug

Perhaps the biggest myth often associated with cannabis is that it leads to the usage of harder drugs. While it may be true that many illicit drug users started with cannabis and alcohol, correlation does not equal causality. In fact, some studies have shown that medical cannabis can help reduce the use of other drugs as a substitute for opioid-based medications and pharmaceuticals. As far as being linked to drug abuse or use of illicit drugs, there’s no conclusive evidence that cannabis is related at all.

Myth: All cannabis makes you high

While it’s true that consuming some cannabis produces a “high” effect, not all cannabis is psychoactive. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of over 100 cannabinoids identified in cannabis, and is the principal psychoactive constituent. However, CBD, or Cannabidiol, doesn’t produce a high at all. Often, CBD can help counter the psychoactive effects of THC.

Myth: Cannabis makes you lazy

Of course, the “lazy stoner” stereotype has persisted for a long time, but there hasn’t been any truth to it found. Study after study comparing groups where half were cannabis users and half never touched cannabis have found no significant difference when it came to motivation or energy levels. A “lazy stoner” might just be a lazy person.

Myth: Cannabis changes your brain

There has been no compelling data showing that cannabis alone causes structural changes to the brain, and a recent study from the University of Louisville showed that long-term and heavy cannabis use did not kill brain cells. In fact, antioxidants that are neuro-protective have been found in the cannabis plant, meaning cannabis may be helpful in promoting growth of new brain cells.

Myth: Cannabis is addictive

For years, the “pothead” stereotype has supported the idea that increased cannabis use promotes dependency, which is simply not true for the majority of users. Of course a small percentage of users (less than 10 per cent) consider themselves dependent on cannabis, but that number is far less than the number of cigarette smokers dependent on tobacco and drinkers dependent on alcohol. Addiction is more common with younger users, but compared to alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs, cannabis use is significantly less habit forming.