Did you and your friends ever seek out weed with purple in it, just because you thought that somehow purple meant more potent? I sure did. It was only much later that I learned it’s either genetics or growing conditions that turn some flowers purple, not some sort of super THC. This was only one cannabis myth that has been spread for years. We can blame cannabis prohibition for a great deal of the many myths and lies that surround cannabis. After all, it was because of prohibition that we have so few research studies and clinical trials on the plant. Due in large part to the lack of research, people were left to rely on rumors and anecdotal evidence, some of which have been damaging to the movement as a whole.
A great deal of the propaganda and subsequent myths spread during cannabis prohibition were aimed at scaring people. They gave the public unfounded reasons to fear the otherwise harmless plant and its effects. They worked to incite panic among the public, and the fear they created would resonate for decades to come.
Pro-cannabis movements aim to correct the wrongs done by cannabis prohibition. That said, the roots of cannabis prohibition are long and deep, and its propaganda has significantly harmed cannabis in the public eye. Even today, when society is more accepting and tolerant of pot/ pot smokers, we’re still fighting to spread the truth despite everything the public has heard to the contrary.
Missed Treatment Opportunities
Every year an increasing number of patients say they prefer medical cannabis as a substitute for over-the-counter and prescription drugs. In fact, a survey revealed that almost half of its participants used cannabis to replace their painkillers, antidepressants, and anxiolytic drugs. The participants also reported a marked improvement in their symptoms.
While it’s clear that cannabis does have therapeutic and medicinal benefits, the fear and misconceptions stemming from cannabis prohibition still prevent many people from benefiting from it.
Below are some of the common myths that surround medical cannabis:
Cannabis Myth 1: Smoking Weed Kills Brain Cells
One of the most classic stereotypes assigned to cannabis users is that of the ‘burnout’. In films, they’re portrayed as the village idiot, who often struggles to grasp even the simplest concepts. This image works to suggest that cannabis users are unintelligent and the plant is to blame. The reality is; there are worse substances than cannabis that kill brain cells. Even legal drugs like nicotine and alcohol do more damage to brain cells than cannabis. Chronic, heavy, and long-term use of these substances can lead to the death of neurons.
The cannabinoids found in cannabis, on the other hand, are neuroprotective. This means that they have the ability to protect the brain cells from harmful compounds like free radicals.
Now, we’re not delusional. Cannabis is not a miracle plant with no potential for negative side effects. Like many things in life, you can become dependant on it. Furthermore, if you’re in a place where you’re feeling a lack of motivation, it can only make it worse if not used correctly. To try and say that cannabis does not affect the way you think would be irresponsible and obviously incorrect. Anyone that has used it knows that it affects our thoughts; that’s why so many people use it in the first place. It can undeniably make certain tasks more difficult. It is not, however, killing your brain cells.
Yes, heavy cannabis use can affect the thinking process and short-term memory, however, when it comes to neurotoxicity; nicotine and alcohol do more damage than cannabinoids.
It should be noted though that chronic cannabis use can have negative health effects on the developing brain. Studies have shown that adolescent cannabis exposure can reduce IQ by six to eight points. That said, there is absolutely no indication that cannabis use by adults has any negative side effects on brain cells.
Cannabis Myth 2: You Can Overdose on Cannabis
There are numerous prescription drugs that leave their users susceptible to a fatal overdose, most of them opioid-based painkillers. Cannabis, however, also a powerful analgesic, has never caused an overdose leading to death.
In the case that you take too much THC, while you may feel incredibly uncomfortable and like your heart is beating too fast, or your breathing is off; they cannot be affected enough by cannabis to cause any immediate health risks. There are not enough cannabinoid receptors in the brainstem, the brain region that controls our heart and lung functions.
Opioid-based painkillers, on the other hand, have a high overdose risk. There are many opiate receptors in the brainstem.
Cannabis Myth 3: The Longer You Hold In The Smoke, The More Stoned You Will Get
If you and your friends like to challenge each other to see who can hold in a bong hit the longest… don’t.
Here’s the thing. The transfer of cannabinoids between the lungs and blood happens almost instantaneously. According to a study, the moment you inhale cannabis smoke, your body will absorb 95% of the THC and CBD content. So holding in the smoke for a longer time is pretty useless. You won’t be absorbing more THC this way, but you’ll only be allowing more tar to accumulate in your lungs.
Yes, you may feel dizzy and lightheaded and credit this effect as a heightened high, but the truth is you feel dizzy simply because by holding your breath you deprive your brain of oxygen. So don’t waste weed if that’s the feeling your after. Just hold your breath and count the brain cells you’re killing.
Cannabis Myth 4: Freezing Your Weed Keeps It Fresh
Freezing food prevents the growth and proliferation of harmful microorganisms. So it makes sense that you can also freeze your weed to prevent mold, bacteria, and fungi from growing on your precious buds, right?
If you freeze your weed, you’ll only encourage their growth. Each time you take them out of the freezer to thaw, you’re giving these harmful microorganisms a window to grow and multiply. The freezing method only works if you’re keeping it there long-term and not removing it.
More importantly, freezing cannabis also reduces its potency. At freezing temperatures, the silvery-white trichomes that cover the buds become brittle and fall off. The static charge produced by plastic containers will also attract the trichomes. This is definitely something that you don’t want to happen. Trichomes contain the highest concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes, the compounds you need to get high or control your symptoms.
Can you store it in the refrigerator then if freezing weed is not an option?
No. Although the refrigerator won’t freeze your weed, the frequent opening and closing of its door will cause the temperature inside it to fluctuate, affecting its humidity. These changes in humidity and temperature encourage the growth of microorganisms. To preserve your weed better, you need to store it in a cool, dark place, preferably one with constant humidity and temperature.
Cannabis myths are just that; myths. Due to fear and a lack of awareness, these myths still prevent many patients from benefiting from medical cannabis. They also prevent recreational cannabis users from enjoying the full potency of their weed. Fortunately, these myths have been debunked by studies and by cannabis experts.
With cannabis legalization, we can also expect more research studies and clinical trials on the medicinal benefits of cannabis. By learning more about this herb and educating people about its potential as a treatment for various diseases and illnesses, and its long-term side effects; we can slowly eradicate the fear instilled in us by decades of cannabis prohibition.