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  • Olivia Castro

Common Marijuana Myths Debunked

Unfortunately, there is a huge stormy cloud of stigma and stereotypes that has engulfed the medical marijuana community for decades now. This stigma has caused so much of the controversy surrounding medical marijuana legalization and simply marijuana in general. It has contributed to why the “war on drugs” began which resulted in locking up more incarcerated people in the criminal “justice” system than ever before in American history.

This has caused a lot of tension in our society due to the large gap between those who agree that marijuana should be legal, either recreationally or medically, and those who do not. While a lot of these issues are obviously rooted in something deeper than “stigma,” it is one of the fights that cannabis advocates draw up the sword to combat every day.

The stigma surrounding marijuana use has created a sort of fog around marijuana in general. It is dense, it is hard to see through and most just give up trying to find their way through it so they settle on easy, digestible theories that are outdated and ultimately, not based in facts. This “stigma cloud” blurs out marijuana discussions altogether in everyday society. This leaves many medical marijuana patients feeling isolated, having to hide that marijuana helps them from even close family and friends. It also leads those that are potential patients so far from the truth that they are afraid to even consider medical marijuana being an option for their health care needs.

But what are the facts? Can decades of long standing stigma be dismantled? Will patients ever feel the true freedom of being able to choose which health care is best for their medical condition? Will patients ever feel confident enough to be open about it?

Here at Tennessee Marijuana Card, we fight every day to make this possible, not only for our patients but for people all over the state! We believe that relief is not a privilege but a right that everyone deserves access to, especially those that are battling chronic medical conditions. We are here to bridge the gap and break the stigma!

Debunked Myth #1: “Marijuana is a gateway drug.”

We have all heard this one before as it is probably one of the most widely used scare tactics about marijuana. I’m sure this takes you right back to your “D.A.R.E.” class back in your old middle school days. Maybe you were even the one to tell your kids to arm themselves with this information in one hand while outstretching the other into a stop sign to “say no to drugs” when their friends offered them drugs behind the gym bleachers. Either way, this long standing myth has been one major player for the marijuana stigma side and has burrowed itself deep into societal views on marijuana.

Marijuana is in no way a gateway drug. There is no evidence connecting marijuana use to hard illegal drugs such as heroin or meth. This myth has been spread since the “war on drugs” started. During this time was when marijuana was scheduled a Schedule I drug. Unfortunately, this category is reserved for highly addictive drugs with no medical value which we know isn’t true for marijuana, yet it remains in the category. Cannabis activists have been trying to have marijuana rescheduled for decades and it is still a fight that lives on to this day.

This scheduling is most likely what led to the false theory of marijuana being a gateway drug. The thought process behind this is that since Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous, those who struggle with additions and use one of these drugs will more than likely use another Schedule I drug. Unfortunately, this myth also applied to marijuana even though there is no evidence that shows marijuana causes other drug use.

In fact, marijuana has been proven to do the exact opposite! Marijuana can actually help those with drug addictions wean off of them and provide a track for a fast and safer recovery. This has been seen in treatment centers for opioid addiction all over the country!

Debunked Myth #2: “Marijuana is addictive.”

This myth can be easily debunked because the answer is actually just not that easy. Saying firmly that marijuana is addictive glosses over the nuances of addiction and is way too general of a statement to make.

There are very real, very diagnosable addictions to many different things. A person can be addicted to alcohol, painkillers, sugar, or gambling and these are just some of the common addictions we hear about. There are more rare addictions that are less known, in fact there is an entire TV series about it! So just like anything else, of course marijuana can be misused, over consumed and an emotional dependency can be created. But in this sense, marijuana is not any more likely “addictive” than anything else.

One of marijuana’s saving graces that sets it apart from other drugs is that it is not lethal. Anyone who has a loved one struggling with true drug addiction knows that the one of the worst parts is the thought of losing them. There are no overdoses with marijuana. While there have been a few suspected isolated cases, the deaths were not very clear and could have been linked to pre-existing medical conditions. Other deaths that have been linked to marijuana use are also not a direct link either; they usually have other contributing factors such as driving under the influence. Saying marijuana is addictive is just another way to brush off marijuana’s medicinal, healing values and scare people away from using it!

Debunked Myth #3: “People who use marijuana are lazy.”

Although this myth is not as dangerous as the first two, it still stings as it is insulting. There has been a persistent stereotype of the “pothead” or “stoner” based on the media's portrayal of marijuana users. This stereotype has been portrayed in classic movies such as “Cheech & Chong” and “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.” These movies are light hearted fun but also leave a false impression on society as to who marijuana users are. Films like these show marijuana users as being lazy, silly, and dumb when in reality marijuana users can be an entire plethora of things!

What this stereotype really does is glides over the reality that marijuana is beneficial for its users! There are strains that definitely make you feel more relaxed and chilled out which can contribute to the “couch potato” stereotype. But this ignores the truth that some medical marijuana patients actually need that for their health and wellness. Many medical marijuana patients struggling with chronic or intractable pain only find relief with relaxing marijuana strains. And there is nothing wrong with that!

You also do not have to just be relaxed and chilled out when using medical marijuana. There are plenty of strains, such as sativa strains, that have the opposite effect making you feel motivated and energetic to get those tasks on your to-do list done! These strains are great for daytime use and help aid those with depression, anxiety or PTSD.

Debunked Myth #4: “Using marijuana kills your brain cells.”

Over the years, the “potheads” stereotype has contributed to the myth that using marijuana can kill your brain cells. This is an offensive belief to hold about those who use marijuana because it alludes to marijuana users being dumb aka having less brains cells than the non-user. We know this is not true and that marijuana users lie all over the “smarts” spectrum, just like any other group of people.

There is also no direct link between using marijuana and negative effects on the brain! Back in 2012, a study was conducted which showed a link between marijuana use and lower IQ over time for adolescents and young adults, which was later replicated by other studies. But what these studies overlooked was the fact that correlation does not equal causation (hello stats 101)! A more recent twin-study took a deeper look at the methodology behind the previous studies and showed that these studies were making unsupported assumptions about marijuana’s role in IQ decline. What this study found was that marijuana does not cause a decline at all! Instead, in the original study, genetic and environmental factors were completely ignored which both are leading contributions to lower IQ and increased marijuana use.

Debunked Myth #5: “Medical marijuana is just a way to get ‘high’ all the time.”

This myth that medical marijuana is just a way to get “high” is a very dangerous one! Many people who are against marijuana use believe that medical marijuana is just a way for users to access marijuana legally. This thought process ignores that marijuana is used for medicinal purposes and only looks at the “fun side” of marijuana use.

We know this to be completely and utterly false for a couple of reasons. Most people who consume marijuana are not looking to have a good time but are actually looking to find relief for their medical condition. This fact alone debunks this myth as it shows that people are not using marijuana just to get “high” and party, they are actually in a lot of pain and looking for relief. This is not to completely ignore marijuana’s place in recreational use, which more and more states are legalizing. But we also know a lot of marijuana users are consuming for the healing properties which keeps users coming back to aid their medical conditions such as cancer, Crohn's Disease, intractable pain, multiple sclerosis, PTSD and more!

We Are Here To Help!

Here at Tennessee Marijuana Card, our number one job is to focus on you and your needs. We are only here to help you! This includes debunking myths and stereotypes of medical marijuana users so Tennessee residents can feel more free to choose the best health care options for themselves, when Tennessee’s medical marijuana program is legalized. We believe that self care and relief can come from medical marijuana and we will help you every step of the way!

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