Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Cannabis research is in its infancy, so it's no surprise how many misconceptions there are regarding marijuana. This is largely due to the fact that until recently marijuana and its derivatives (such as CBD) had been prohibited in the US and most other countries. Still, studies have already debunked several different myths about marijuana.
Myth #1: Marijuana Makes You Lazy
The classic portrayal of a stoner leads you to believe that marijuana makes you lazy, but this simply isn't true. To better understand its effects, you need to understand the difference between indica and sativa, as well as the terpenes of each strain.
There are two variations of cannabis, indica and sativa. However, due to a large amount of cross-breeding, most strains found today will be some sort of hybrid, which may lean heavier one way or the other.
A strong indica lends the image of the lazy stoner, as it's known for its relaxing and sometimes sedating effects, whereas sativa is known for its uplifting and energetic effects. Neither strain is sure to have either of these effects, though.
Along with whether the plant is a sativa or indica, the actual strain of cannabis and what terpenes it contains will play an important part in its overall impact.
Cannabis is a complex plant that has many different terpenes causing several very different reactions. These chemicals that are also naturally found in your body's endocannabinoid system interact differently from person to person. This plays a crucial role in determining how a particular strain will make you feel.
So to simply say "marijuana makes you lazy" is a lazy way of looking at it. Marijuana can certainly be said to be sedating, which is why many choose to medicate with it instead of taking pills, but it can also be uplifting, therapeutic in several ways, or just help you have a good time!
Myth #2: Marijuana Is A Gateway Drug
Since the 1960s, pot has been portrayed as a gateway that leads to more dangerous drugs. However, recent studies have shown this simply is not the case.
Even as early as the '80s, when cocaine use soared and pot use plummeted, there was strong evidence to refute this idea. On the contrary, marijuana can actually be used to replace more harmful habits, such as alcohol, tobacco,and heavy narcotic use.
Marijuana became an increasingly popular drug during the '60s, largely among people considered to be hippies or other members of the anti-establishment movement. In the '80s this idea of pot as a gateway drug began to unravel, as cocaine use took off and marijuana use went in the opposite direction. D.A.R.E. was one of the last onslaughts of this war.
Studies of other countries in which marijuana is not prohibited clearly show no tendency towards higher narcotic use. These countries instead only provide evidence that the prohibition of cannabis causes more crime, and the gateway effect only applies to the illicit sale of marijuana.
Myth #3: Cannabis Use Causes Crime
This is probably the most laughable myth about marijuana. The notion that cannabis causes crime can be traced back to after its prohibition in the 1930s. It's highlighted well in features like Reefer Madness, in which cannabis users are depicted as sex-crazed lunatics. This was perpetuated up into the '80s, when it reached its peak during the "War on Drugs."
Today studies have shown that cannabis users are actually less likely to commit crimes, due to a decrease in aggression among users. In addition, the states that have already legalized recreational use have all reported a decrease in overall crime.
However, in areas where marijuana is illegal, there is a tendency for drug dealers to fall victim to the gateway effect mentioned earlier. Unlike cannabis users, studies have shown that marijuana sellers on the illicit market are likely to switch to selling narcotics, such as cocaine, meth, and pharmaceuticals. This declines drastically when recreational marijuana is legalized, as does possession.
The reality is, cannabis only really causes crime when it's a crime to use cannabis.
Myth #4: Marijuana Causes Memory Loss
While it is true that marijuana causes short-term memory loss, studies have shown this is only true while under the influence. No conclusive evidence has shown that this continues after the effects of the marijuana wear off. Furthermore, when it comes to long-term memory and other cognitive abilities, studies have actually shown marijuana to be beneficial.
Cannabis use is believed to help deter the onset of Alzheimer's, as well as improve other neurotransmitter functions. On top of its FDA-approved application for use in the treatment of epilepsy, it's also used to treat PTSD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia (which, ironically enough, it used to be thought to cause).
As more studies are conducted, researchers are realizing there's still a lot to be learned about marijuana and its different effects on the brain. CBD extract and its ability to increase a user's focus has been an important part of this new research.
Myth #5: Cannabis Is Just Used To Get High
The more the public learns about cannabis and its derivatives, such as THC and CBD, the more this myth is debunked. You may already be aware of the difference between THC and CBD: the former is associated with the effect of being high or intoxicated, while the latter is used to treat various ailments and is non-psychoactive. Neither of these notions are entirely true, though.
The idea that THC gets you high is accurate. However, as most people know, THC is also widely used to treat several medical conditions. In addition to its intoxicating effects, THC is known to help symptoms of nausea, extreme distress (PTSD), and chronic pain, just to name a few. The many uses of THC are only beginning to be understood, as more states legalize marijuana and more studies can be conducted.
The second idea, that CBD is non-psychoactive, is completely inaccurate. The fact that CBD is used to treat anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and several other cognitive disorders shows it clearly has an impact on our psyche. Without these properties, CBD wouldn't be effective as a sleep aid either, or in many of its other applications.
Understanding the different ways in which THC and CBD interact with your body is important if you're considering using marijuana, or switching what you currently use. It's also important to learn how the different terpenes may affect you. In the end, though, you'll just have to experiment and see how the different strains and forms make you feel, and just go with whatever works best for you.