Marijuana has been a part of pop culture long before hippies were toking doobies in the 60’s. The anti-weed propaganda film REEFER MADNESS dates all the way back to 1936 and acts as a cautionary tale for young people thinking about smoking weed and features ridiculous exaggerations about the effects of marijuana on the human body and mind. Various people in the establishment felt it necessary to demonize marijuana because they saw it as a threat to civilized society and especially young people. Some people are still touting unfounded and nonresearched assumptions about marijuana and stating it as fact to this day. This article is meant as a bridge between the truths and myths about weed. What naysayers don’t realize is that half-truths and exaggerations, much like the film Reefer Madness, have become a joke among the more enlightened individuals in our society. Lying to us has only kept potential pot smokers from seeking the truth about marijuana because they don’t know what to believe. This article addresses the fundamentals of marijuana use and what it means to our society today. Hopefully this will clear up some of the major misconceptions about weed by addressing the harmful effects as well as the benefits.
Lies about Weed
You can overdose on weed: First of all, let’s address the lies that still seem to be lingering in the dialogue about modern marijuana use. Legalization in states like Colorado and Washington has led to a panic among the opposition and has prompted them to plant stories in social media about the horrible deaths at the hands of recreational pot. Let’s get something straight. No one in human history has ever died from a marijuana overdose! If you see a story about death caused by weed, check the source. The human body is not able to consume enough THC to cause death. You would fall asleep long before that happened.
Weed is more harmful than cigarettes: Are you kidding me? Is there anyone in their right mind that actually believes this? This blatant lie is actually printed in Junior High school literature to this day. Cigarette smoking is responsible for 480,000 deaths a year in the United States alone and averages out to about 1,300 deaths every day. Marijuana smoking is responsible for 0 deaths anywhere in the world. There is simply no such thing as a fatal marijuana overdose. It seems an obvious no-brainer, but 2 major studies proved it. A major study was conducted in California over the course of 10 years. It involved over 65,000 men and women ages 15 to 49 and there was no evidence that marijuana contributed to premature death. Another such study was conducted in Sweden involving over 45,000 people over the course of 15 years and the results were the same.
Secondhand weed smoke gets you high: Another popular misconception about weed is that you can get high by simply being in the same room as someone who is smoking. It is possible to get high from secondhand weed smoke, but it is highly unlikely. If you were in a room while 4 joints were being smoked simultaneously, you would not get high. In order to feel the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke, you would have to breathe in the smoke of 16 burning joints at the same time. Also, weed smoke is not as much like cigarette smoke as you may have heard. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals with 43 of them being very harmful carcinogens as well as 400 other toxins like nicotine, tar and ammonia. They are chemically very similar simply because both weed and cigarette smoke are the results of burning plant matter. The major difference is that cigarette smoke contains Nicotine while marijuana smoke contains Cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the complex medicinal properties of marijuana and have actually been found to kill numerous types of cancer cells. The fact that marijuana smoke contains many of the same carcinogens as tobacco smoke gives the opposition a nice high horse to sit on, but what they fail to tell you is that there are additional pharmacological activities in weed smoke that result in different biological endpoints. The absence of any links between marijuana and cancer of any kind should make this obvious.
The Truth about Weed
Let’s face it. Weed is not harmless. You are burning a plant and inhaling it into your lungs. That can’t be all good. And you have just heard the only valid argument among anti-weed proponents. It seems like it should harm you and ruin your life, but it just doesn’t. What it does is affect you mentally and could cause you to lose motivation. The first thing you must realize about this is that everyone is different. The negative effect weed has on your life really has more to do with you personally than it does the weed. If you are prone to laziness and lack motivation, weed is only going to make you worse. If you are a motivated person, weed is not likely to drag you down into a life of obscurity. Simply put: Weed makes you content. If you are lying around content, you aren’t going to get anything done. It does no good for you to numb yourself to the world around you. It will keep turning while you’re sitting in your beanbag getting high watching the latest Seth Rogen film.
If weed makes you feel good physically and mentally; it makes sense that it could become mentally addictive. The key to responsible marijuana use is essentially the same as the key to responsible eating, drinking, watching TV and even having sex. That key is moderation. If you eat, drink, watch TV, have sex and smoke weed in moderation, you are likely to get better results from all of them. Have you ever heard the saying “too much of a good thing”? Too much of anything is going to start to affect you negatively in the long run. If you stay conscious about your intake, you should have no problem avoiding things like loss of motivation and depression.
Do your kids smoke weed?
As mentioned earlier in the article; lies about marijuana have become a joke among the younger generation. This only serves to undermine the words of parents who are desperately trying to keep their kids off weed that they feel is a gateway drug. Let’s not beat around the bush here. Marijuana IS a gateway drug. Many kids think that, since all the warnings against weed are lies, their parents must be lying about hard drugs as well. That’s why you should seek the truth and warn them about the real dangers rather than the more exaggerated and unfounded ones. Who they are friends with and what you teach them about drugs plays a much bigger part in their decision than weed does.
A much more effective way to keep your children off marijuana at a young age is the truth. If they hear the same propaganda from you that young people have been hearing for generations, they are just going to laugh at you and your words will have no more effect on them than the laughably silly film Reefer Madness. The truth is; inhaling smoke in your lungs is harmful and weed can affect your motivation when it’s not done in moderation. Marijuana smoke adversely affects various cells in your body, but the average adult human can regenerate them fast enough to compensate. This can’t be good for a body that is young and still developing. Knowing the truth may prompt them to wait until they are older and their body is fully developed or, at the very least, make them think twice about smoking a lot of marijuana at a young age.
One of the reasons there has been no link found between Marijuana and major health issues is the lack of research. The reason so much of society remains so ignorant about it is the lack of real information. Propaganda and the demonizing of Marijuana in our society’s history has caused a lack of growth in our understanding about it. So much so that the U.S. government has refused to conduct detailed tests because they don’t recognize marijuana as medicinal. It’s a curious point since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services patented the use of cannabinoids for treating a wide range of diseases. The legalization of pot for recreational use in a growing number of states is the first step toward a deeper understanding of this fascinating plant. Until then, think for yourself. Educate yourself and mind your sources. You have the right to know what you put into your body and you shouldn’t have to sort through lies and misconceptions to find out.
Photo credits: Glen Stubbe, RobotBoot, Shane Cotee