We’ve been lied to about marijuana for a long time. Anyone who grew up in the 80s or 90s will surely remember the war on drugs. A campaign designed to curb the demand for illegal substances so the USA could hit the cartels where it hurt the most- their wallets. On paper this is a sound strategy but as history teaches us, when you lie to the populous it ultimately will doom your end goals.
The case against prohibition is an on-going seemingly never-ending debate. Countries like Portugal have decriminalized controlled substances and have seen their drug use among the population decrease significantly. This is a law that seems unthinkable in North America but maybe we are on our way. Marijuana has become legal in Canada and in 32 states in the USA. It has been a long time coming but being free of these draconian laws has taken a very long time. The reason for that is the stigma surrounding cannabis as a dangerous drug.
Today we are going to focus the lies and myths that surround marijuana that are still believed today.
Marijuana Is a Gateway Drug
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smoked a joint at a house party only to be offered a needle full of heroine shortly after. This is a classic message meant to scare you into thinking your life path will be significantly changed because you gave into temptation. Alcohol is always a good counter-argument for this line of thinking. Imagine a friend of yours smacking a joint out of your hand and lecturing you on the dangerous path you’ll be taking by smoking the devil’s lettuce. Now drop a shot glass full of vodka into your party cup full of beer and chug as fast as you can. Now you’re making your ancestors proud.
According to the American website for drug abuse studies have shown that there is no link between marijuana and harder drugs.
This is a favourite argument for those who are still fighting the war on drugs. Marijuana doesn’t have the same effect as crack-cocaine or meth but can lead you to making the decision of using crack-cocaine or meth. So instead of studying the effects and providing an argument for the negative side effects of marijuana our authorities decided to give it a boogey-man vibe by saying it leads to serious drug problems.
The reason they use this argument is to group together marijuana with dangerous drugs. Not to be ironic but this can be a slippery slop and can be easily debunked. If marijuana is a dangerous drug that can lead to serious drug habits that can cause overdose or permanent health damage, then why stop at marijuana? What about cigarettes? Booze? Coffee? These are all drugs, but they are legal drugs. You don’t have to meet a dealer in a dark alley or dirty apartment building to get coffee you can just go to the store. Imagine you could do that with marijuana? But after buying legal marijuana you will get a craving for heroine? The more you peel away at this argument the emptier it is. It’s much easier to associate marijuana with crime and hard drugs than to do what’s right. Legalize it.
Legalizing Pot Will Increase Usage
Now that cannabis is the law of the land in the true, north strong and free I can’t even get on a bus walking into a cloud of dope smoke. Everywhere I go there are people getting high off the refer and committing crimes that they would never do sober. Just the other day I asked a young man for directions and he blew cannabis smoke in my face. I had to stand there and groove on it because anarchy reigns in this drug haven of Canada. Before you know it opium dens will be on every block and children will flunk out of school because their teacher’s brains are mush from dope.
This might not be an accurate transcript of the thoughts that people who oppose marijuana legalization have but the tone is the same. Fear! Now that it is legal everything mentioned in the above paragraph is not true. If anything these anti-pot squares are giving it a try. Maybe they feared the consequences of breaking draconian drug laws then the drug itself.
Marijuana has been legal for over a year now and society still marches on. There is now an industry with store fronts and publicly traded companies. People in pain, physically or mentally, now have an alternative medicine that is far better than opioid pain killers. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows but it’s business as usual and that’s important to note.
Marijuana gets compared to alcohol and there is a good reason for that. They are intoxicating drugs consumed recreationally and they were both illegal at some point. During prohibition there was a similar fear that if alcohol became legal again then everyone and their grandmother would become violent drunkards. That wasn’t the case though. According Jack S. Blocker Jr PHD in the American Journal of Public Health there was no such surge in drinking after prohibition was lifted. In fact it wasn’t until the 70’s that alcohol consumption per capita reach the same as pre-prohibition levels. So this common fear that everyone will be storming dispensaries because it’s legal isn’t true. The people storming those dispensaries are the ones who already partake.
Pot Can Cause Brain Damage
“What are you smoking?” is usually a term we dish out to stupid people who say or do stupid things. This can be attributed to the false notion that the buzz from consuming marijuana causes permanent brain damage. Now while enjoying a THC buzz one can assume that your brain is going through some sort of transformation. When you start laughing at something that doesn’t make sense the term brain damage may be thrown around. If you do a tiny bit of research you will find that science does not support this whatsoever.
Anyone who grew up in the eighties will remember these three phrases. “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs (smash open egg yoke). Any questions?”
While effective and to the point the only problem with this public service ad is it’s too vague. What drug smashes my brain like an egg? Where can I get it? Will my egg brain go back to normal after the drug wears off? Do all drugs do this? Or just the illegal ones? Is that why they are illegal? Why are cigarettes and alcohol legal?
There are multiple studies that have shown that marijuana use does not cause permanent brain damage. Now that’s not to say there isn’t any side effects. The munchies, uncontrollable laughter, paranoia, short term memory loss are all examples of side effects affecting the brain. The good news is your brain will no melt into delicious scrambled eggs. Instead it’s possible that marijuana can actually be good for you brain. According to a 2013 study there is a cannabinoid CBC (cannabichromene) that can stimulate the growth of brain cells and make the brain in a sense, stronger! Where’s that commercial?
Marijuana Can Cause Violent Behavior
Another boogey man tactic designed not only to vilify marijuana but marijuana users. Since the devil’s lettuce has been grouped together with other controlled substances it’s received a stigma of being hardcore. When you hear the word marijuana they want you to think of gangs, violence and big drug deals. Although maybe if some common sense was used once upon a time and cannabis wasn’t sold on the black market we wouldn’t associate weed with violence.
In the 1960s there was a peaceful movement and counter-culture against the establishment. This establishment seemed pretty hungry for war and violence at home and abroad. You see the United States wanted to fight communism all over the globe and had the public’s support until they kept screwing it up. The Bay of Pigs and Vietnam soured the public’s opinion on America’s foreign policies. People were sick and tired of war. President Nixon decided to respond to this criticism by branding his opponents as violent drug users. That was the birth of the war of drugs. Now all those damn peace loving hippies can be rounded up and prosecuted for the crime of possessing a plant. The same propaganda painting marijuana users as violent criminals still goes on today.
The most famous piece of propaganda has to be the 1936 film, Refer Madness. This film came out before all that communism craziness but helped form the image of a violent drug user. The film is about teenagers who are lured into trying marijuana for the first time. Once the characters get high they’re subjected to hallucinations (that’s not pot), attempted sexual assault, suicide, manslaughter and a descent into madness. The film was funded by a church group intent on teaching kids the dangers of drugs. Unfortunately facts are part of their creed.
If you’re in the mood for creepy old timey propaganda, check it out.
Cannabis Causes Psychosis
It’s bad enough we have to deal with haters claiming marijuana causes brain damage but now they want to tell us we can get psychosis from it. I know what your thinking. What the heck is psychosis?
Psychosis is a mental ailment where the person loses their grip on reality. They can start to hallucinate or hear things that aren’t there. These symptoms usually come and go and are considered psychosis episodes. Other symptoms can include anxiety, insomnia and depression.
So if we are keeping score here marijuana turns you violent, gives you psychosis, will make you take harder drugs and permanently damages your brain. How could they legalize such an evil substance?
The psychosis myth has been around more recently as there’s been a stigma about how marijuana is manufactured today. There is a claim that marijuana is far more potent and therefore much more dangerous.
The truth is according to the Medical Cannabis Network:
Although most experts agree that cannabis use alone doesn’t trigger psychosis or conditions such as bipolar disorder, there is a possibility it could trigger psychosis in those who already have the condition. Studies have also found that cannabis is the most commonly abused drug among those diagnosed with bipolar disorder.2 This abuse of cannabis increases the chances of an adverse reaction over time. As a counterpoint, research is now showing that medicinal cannabis has a part to play in stabilizing a patient’s mood and alleviating the symptoms of depression.