Look, weed is great. It has medical benefits that continue to shock researchers, and it has profound effects on our bodies and brains. But when some well-meaning morons spread misinformation or outright falsehoods, it makes us all look bad.
There are a lot of crazy weed myths, and here are the five biggest ones that the cannabis community needs to give up.
1. Weed Cures Cancer
This is one of those weed myths that people spout because it sounds so seductive.
Some studies have shown that cannabinoids can affect cancer cells, and in some instances slow or halt cancer growth. That’s a really promising observation, but it’s hardly definitive. There needs to be a lot more research done and it’s absolutely absurd to say weed can cure cancer.
In fact, it’s a little ridiculous to say anything cures cancer. ‘Cancer’ is an umbrella term for thousands of different but similar maladies. A ‘cure’ for one cancer may not cure another.
2. The Founding Fathers Smoked Weed
This is one of those weed myths meant to underline the hypocrisy of our current laws. If the founding fathers smoked pot, it’s downright unpatriotic to ban it.
But there’s just no evidence that any of the founding fathers smoked weed. There’s a meme that floats around that George Washington grew hemp on his estate. He did but didn’t smoke it. Thomas Jefferson also grew hemp, and he even grew the female variety that would get him high if he dried it and smoked it. He never did though.
There’s a quote that floats around attributed to Jefferson: “Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.” Jefferson never said that.
While it’s possible some founding father smoked some kind of hash product. If they did, we don’t know about it so we should probably stop saying we do.
3. Weed is Totally Safe
Weed is incredibly safe. The stuff doesn’t kill you. It’s also really, really powerful and we still don’t understand many of its effects. We should be able to acknowledge that weed is fun and can be a great medicine while still acknowledging its limitations.
There’s evidence that suggests weed can be addictive. In fact, nine percent of weed smokers apparently have issues quitting which results in symptoms like insomnia and appetite disturbance. There also seems to be a link between young people using weed and mental illness. Weed isn’t fatal, but we still need to be smart when we use it.
4) Most People in Prison Are There For Marijuana Possession
This is one of those annoying weed myths because it’s just flat out false. In the United States, there are about 40,000 people in prison on cannabis-related charges. That’s disgusting, but it’s not even close to most prisoners. Plus, of those 40,000 people, most are in on trafficking charges, not possession. And by most, I mean 99%.
It’s awful anyone is in prison for weed. The war on drugs has been a scandal and a tragedy. But it’s much easier to dismiss arguments that aren’t based on reality. To make sure fewer people get arrested for weed every year, it’s important we have an idea of what’s actually going on.
5) Weed Cures Depression and PTSD
There is some evidence to suggest weed can help depression. But, it’s not well understood, and unless you’re actively working with a mental health professional, this ‘advice’ is one of the weed myths that can be downright dangerous.
Depression is a nuanced condition. Like anything in the brain, it’s incredibly complicated and still shrouded in mystery. If a person and their doctor decide together weed may be a good course of treatment, and they monitor progress, that’s a good thing. But the word “cure” when referred to cannabis and mental health, in general, is misleading.
Even with post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s been shown that when people stop smoking weed, the condition comes back. At this point, professionals generally accept that weed can help ease the symptoms of mental health conditions, but it does not actually rewire the brain in any way. This is not the case, however, with other mental health treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and MDMA which have been shown to actually change the way the brain processes trauma.