Wednesday July 22, 2015
These days, marijuana isn’t as much of a boogeyman as it used to be. Though some attitudes still need to shift and policies need to be updated, the days of “reefer madness” endangering all that we hold dear, or the populace being frightened by the Reagan administration’s “Just Say No” scare tactics are hopefully in the past.
But there are still misinterpretations and misconceptions, mostly due to the fact that it’s hard to know who’s telling the truth after so many years of herb use being either ignored or treated as something to be stamped out.
Whether you’re new to the weed scene or have been indulging for years, here’s the scoop on some of these beliefs that should be busted for good.
1. Marijuana is a gateway drug
For generations, parents were warned that Junior puffing a joint would instantly expose him or her to a life of crime and a greater willingness to indulge in much worse drugs. Today, even the National Institutes for Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse said this claim no longer holds up. The NIDA says early exposure to cannabinoids may alter the pleasure centers of growing brains and encourage greater needs for more stimuli, at least in animal experiments. And that the elements in some social environments can encourage increasingly self-destructive behaviors, such as gang cultures. However, no direct correlation has been shown that pot use automatically opens the door to harder stuff.
2. Anything goes in the legal states
Washington and Colorado voters were the first to pass recreational pot initiatives, so entire legal frameworks had to be created on the commercial and enforcement sides. Residents can now buy small amounts for personal use at licensed dispensaries, but there are still bans on public use, public impairment, re-selling it yourself or taking product to other states. Individual employers in these states still have the right to ban this legal activity and require random or pre-employment drug tests.
3. Everyone wants it legalized
You and your friends might think that apart from some conservative politicians and uncool cops, the rest of society is fine with relaxed rules. A Pew Research study said this isn’t entirely true. It said that support for legalization has grown faster in the last decade than in prior years, but as of spring 2015, only 53 percent of surveyed Americans want it legalized while 44 percent still don’t.
4. This country was founded on pot
Marijuana advocates sure know their history, at least to tell you that Jefferson, Washington and other Founding Fathers were big-time tokers. And to prove it, the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp. The National Constitution Center said that both men grew hemp on their plantations with other crops, but it was used purely for industrial purposes, such as rope, and it contained no THC or anything that merited smoking for recreational purposes. Though Jefferson may have written a Declaration draft on hemp scrap paper, the final signed document was on formal parchment.
5. Marijuana makes you fat
One of its strength is that it encourages appetite, which is a nice benefit for people suffering from nausea as a result of chemo or other medical treatments. And then there’s the image of the plus-sized chronic user who has the munchies full-time. But according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, regular marijuana users (3 days/week) have less prevalence of obesity than non-pot users, between 5-10% less in both studied samples.
6. Pot is worse than alcohol
This one has been hard to quantify because there has been little research comparing and contrasting a legal product and an illegal one, and there are so many variables such as behavior during consumption and long-term effects. But a 2015 study of users of various legal and illegal products, from alcohol and tobacco to pot and cocaine, showed that marijuana users had the lowest risk of death.
7. Pot causes cancer
While generally recognized as a natural form of pain relief for those battling cancer, there are still some who are sure that marijuana can contribute to cancer. This was seen in a 2006 study at UCLA that investigated if there was a link between cancer and cannabis use. Interestingly, heavy marijuana smokers showed less danger of lung cancer than heavy tobacco smokers, which is something that researchers expected would be similar because both behaviors involve inhaling and keeping smoke in one’s lungs. It was theorized that tar and other chemicals in cigarettes may actually be more harmful.