Despite the continued growth of legal marijuana, many legislators, lawmakers, and members of the general public remain opposed to pot’s progress based on outdated ideas and misinformation.
These misconceptions have resulted in millions of people missing out on numerous financial, recreational, and medicinal benefits associated with legal cannabis.
Here are the top five myths about marijuana:
Myth: Marijuana kills your brain cells.
How many times have we heard our parents, teachers, or other authority figures parrot this warning over the years? While they may have meant well, it turns out they may be wrong.
While cannabis can cause a temporary, reversible decrease in short-term memory, numerous studies from Leaf Science have shown that it may actually help your body grow and develop new brain cells. This can be especially helpful for stroke victims, people dealing with brain injuries, and those who’ve sustained head trauma. It may also help protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other slower-forming conditions.
Myth: Cannabis is a gateway drug.
While it’s true that marijuana may make it easier for people to use other, harder drugs, many researchers argue that cannabis would probably be better thought of as a “terminus drug,” as the vast majority of cannabis users do not go on to use cocaine, heroin, LSD, or other illicit drugs.
In fact, recent studies from Start Smart NY show that marijuana can be actually an “exit drug” that helps some users curb their dependence on opiates or alcohol by easing difficult withdrawal symptoms.
Myth: You can overdose on marijuana.
If you smoke too much weed, you will likely experience an intense high. Your reflexes will be affected, as will your ability to function normally and your short-term memory. You could even pass out.
But it’s pretty much impossible to overdose and die from a marijuana overdose. This is because the cannabinoid receptors in our body that the THC in marijuana bind to are NOT located in the brain stem, which regulates involuntary functions like heart rate and breathing. You would have to ingest nearly 40,000 times a regular dose of weed — or a bong the size of the Empire State Building — to get a lethal amount of THC.
Myth: Marijuana legalization is causing an increase in crime.
Opponents of medical and recreational marijuana legalization have long warned that legal weed would lead to a spike in violent and property crimes. However, the numbers simply don’t support that view.
Cannabis’ effect in reducing aggression means that cannabis users tend to be less likely to commit crimes, and a study by the National Institutes of Health found that states with medical marijuana laws have actually seen a reduction in homicide and assault rates.
Myth: Marijuana will make you lazy.
How often have you heard that regular pot use will turn folks into useless stoners who are glued to the couch?
While cannabis can definitely help you feel relaxed in the short term, there is no evidence it will affect your long-term motivation to achieve your goals.
For example, a study at Florida International University showed that adolescents (ages 14 to 18) who used marijuana regularly were no less motivated to achieve their goals than their counterparts who only used it occasionally.
Another study by researchers at the University of Colorado showed that 81% of people who reported consuming cannabis before and/or after exercising spent an average of 159 minutes working out each week, compared to an average of 103 minutes for those who didn’t use cannabis. The study also showed that 70% of cannabis users said they enjoy their workouts more than non-users, 77% said cannabis helps them recover better from their workouts, and more than half said it actually increases their motivation to exercise.
Staying in shape is one of life’s ultimate (and challenging) long-term goals. The fact that cannabis may actually help people achieve it is very encouraging.
Legal marijuana is still in its infancy.
Scientists are learning more and more about cannabis use every day, and even the most enthusiastic users can be unsure of the benefits and risks of using it. Be sure to ask an experienced user, budtender, or your physician to help you decide which cannabis products are right for you.
LivWell makes no claims regarding the health and medical benefits of cannabis.