Canada deemed marijuana illegal in 1923 but recently legalized the drug a couple of years ago back in 2018. Due to the institutionalized efforts to criminalize the drug, several misconceptions have formed, even after its legalization.
There is a stigma surrounding marijuana, more so than any other consumed drug substance. You might have heard people say that it is a monster drug that causes people to commit heinous crimes or leads to serious illnesses. However, now that the drug has been legal for quite some time, it’s time to debunk these myths.
1. Marijuana Causes Cancer
With more people using marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes, a few health experts are concerned about the plant raising your odds of getting lung cancer. Nevertheless, a recent study concluded that smoking marijuana, even when smoked heavily and regularly, doesn’t lead to lung cancer.
While an increased cancer risk was observed in cigarette smokers, the study proved no such association for cannabis users. Even very long-term marijuana users who had smoked over 22,000 joints were not at any greater risk of cancer than nonusers.
This discovery even surprised the researchers who conducted the study, expecting to see an increased risk of cancer among regular marijuana smokers. Donald P. Tashkin, one of the experts, believes that marijuana might have some protective effects. His earlier research has proved that marijuana’s THC content in marijuana might kill aging cells and prevent them from becoming cancerous.
2. Marijuana is a Gateway Drug
Any psychoactive drug that leads to using one or more addictive or dangerous drugs is called a gateway drug. When it comes to marijuana, there is plenty of debate over whether it acts as a gateway to more ‘hard’ drugs like heroin and cocaine.
Marijuana is one of the most readily available and commonly used drugs in the world. Hence, it is likely for marijuana to be the first drug used by many people. It also means those who have consumed other drugs might have tried cannabis first. Nevertheless, this doesn’t make marijuana is a gateway drug.
A higher percentage of cannabis users than the small percentage of hard drug users claim there’s no association between marijuana use and other drug abuse. This situation is further solidified by the benefits of marijuana, treating many medical conditions, particularly pain-relief and inflammation.
Currently, studies show that marijuana users don’t resort to using other dangerous or ‘hard’ drugs, and there’s no evidence suggesting otherwise.
3. Marijuana Causes Crime
People think marijuana causes crime due to two reasons—legalization and usage. Proponents of weed legalization said that it would reduce crime while the opponents said otherwise. Yet, according to reports, while marijuana legalization in Canada didn’t eliminate its illegal production, distribution, and sale, the law did reduce the issues significantly, thereby relieving the burden on courts, prisons, and law enforcement and allowing them to focus more on violent crime.
Furthermore, due to the rate of marijuana use being higher among offenders than non-offenders, people believe it leads to criminal behavior.
Various studies have shown no cross-sectional associations between marijuana use and violent or property crime rates. Unlike alcohol, marijuana doesn’t unleash aggression. It is much harder to link the plant to violent crimes, and more often than not, other factors drive the result.
4. Vaping Marijuana is as Harmful as Cigarettes
The number of people who believe vaping marijuana is exceptionally harmful, perhaps as dangerous as smoking cigarettes, is growing exponentially. A vaping-related illness you might have heard of would be EVALI—E-cigarettes or Vaping Product Use Associated Lung Injury—that’s typical symptoms include nausea, dizziness, tiredness, etc.
While scientists are not sure of the exact causes of the illness, most sufferers report using THC-containing vape products (vape pens that use e-liquid and not dry cannabis flowers) and some nicotine-containing products.
Early research suggested that E acetate—a thickener used in cannabis-containing vape cartridges—might cause the problems. However, this statement was proved wrong by the CDC in 2018.
While vaping dangers are disputed, it is considered a safer way to consume cannabis than smoking. Vaporizing burns cannabis below its combustion temperature, thereby not producing smoke and letting users consume marijuana just as they would through other methods.
For now, Health Canada strictly advises Canadians to use only regulated and approved legal THC vape products. Hence, when buying THC vape pens in Canada, sticking to legal, regulated products will likely increase your safety.
5. Marijuana is Addictive
Some pot smokers develop a marijuana addiction, but a majority of pot smokers don’t. According to NIDA, users who start smoking marijuana before the age of 18 are more than four times as likely to develop a disorder than those who wait until they are of legal age.
Health experts and scientists agree that marijuana can be addictive, though it isn’t addictive the same way as alcohol or hard drugs. As cannabis potency soars, a few experts also worry about its addictive potential rising, especially for users who are under 25, as their brains are still developing.
With marijuana dependence, the brain’s neural circuitry is altered in young adults. According to a brain-imaging study, people with heavy marijuana use had abnormally high connectivity in brain regions that are important for reward processing and habit format.
THC—a compound found in cannabis that mimics the brain’s endocannabinoid system—a system in your body that controls all the other neurotransmitter systems. THC hijacks the system in your body and increases the secretion of dopamine, which makes your brain not able to process emotion properly, especially pleasure, the result of which is a good feeling. When people start marijuana usage from a very young age, it alters their developing brain structure, potentially setting them up for addiction down the road.
No Drugs With Cure-All Effects
The critical element to remember is that there are no drugs in this world with cure-all effects. While marijuana can offer relief to people suffering from pain and inflammation, there might be some potential drawbacks. Before consuming or restraining from using any substance, it is best to find the truth about the common misconceptions. Always remember to act with your overall health in mind.