The stigma surrounding marijuana may not ever go away entirely, regardless of how much more accepted cannabis may seem to be – and surely you’ve heard lots of misinformation about this plant. Here are five myths about marijuana and why they just aren’t true.
MYTH #1 | Cannabis Kills Brain Cells
A 2003 report was corroborated by University of Louisville research to say that marijuana use doesn’t actually kill any brain cells. While it may alter your short-term memory, consuming cannabis doesn’t affect memories that already exist or cause long-term memory loss.
In many regards, cannabis is neuroprotective and can aid in neural activity instead of hindering or damaging it, like alcohol, which is a neurotoxin. Indulging too much can affect short-term memory and spatial awareness – which may simply make you feel brain damaged.
MYTH #2 | Weed is Legal in Portugal and the Netherlands
Portugal decriminalized pot (and all other drugs) in 2001, which means citizens can possess, but cannot buy, use, or sell without risking fines or community service. In the Netherlands, you’re not supposed to have any at all, but the government sort of lets it slide – due to the immense amount of tourists that flock to Amsterdam yearly to indulge in their famed coffee shops.
MYTH #3 | Pot is Worse For You Than Cigarettes
While the two share some similar components, a national study showed that the smoke from marijuana was less harmful than all the chemicals found in an average cigarette: things like ammonia, arsenic, formaldehyde, lead, and tar, to name a few – none of which are found in weed. Additionally, while an average cigarette smoker may smoke a pack a day, a regular pot smoker most likely won’t smoke 20 joints in a 24 hour period.
MYTH #4 | Weed Stays in Your System for 30 Days
The longevity of weed in your system correlates to the amount you smoke – among many other aspects. If you only smoked one time, you should be clear in a few days. A weekly smoker would need a couple weeks, and a daily smoker could hold THC in their system for at least a month, if not more. Exercising can help expedite the process as THC is stored in fat.
MYTH #5 | Ganja is a Gateway Drug
Perhaps one of the longest-running myths about marijuana, there isn’t any actual evidence that weed is a gateway drug. The Institute of Medicine reported that "no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs." This myth could have stemmed from how common marijuana is in America, and how many users are simply exposed to it before anything else. Cannabis has even been shown to assist addicts in getting off drugs that are arguably more dangerous.