Misinformation and untruths persist.Reading Time: 4 minutes
Despite numerous scientific studies supporting cannabis as a safe and effective treatment for debilitating conditions like HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and chronic pain, misinformation and untruths persist. With recreational cannabis on track to be legalized within the next few months, cannabis is a hot topic on the minds of many Canadians.
But as more people talk about cannabis, the more confusing this subject becomes – especially when it comes to the misconceptions about medical cannabis.
The headlines are filled with conflicting information.
Trying to navigate the complex medical cannabis landscape can be incredibly overwhelming and frustrating.
We don’t want myths, non-scientific claims, and stigma to prevent Canadians from accessing potentially life-changing alternative health treatments like medical cannabis.
At AHAOC, we’re committed to providing the necessary information and resources to help you make informed decisions about your health – which is why we’re separating fact from fiction in this article.
If you’re confused about medical cannabis, or if you’re simply curious to learn more about it, we’re here to clarify any misinformation and help to remove the stigma attached to cannabis.
Here are some of the most common medical cannabis misconceptions. (And why you shouldn’t let them stop you from considering cannabis treatment.)
Despite a number of compelling studies debunking the gateway drug theory, this myth continues to prevail.
According to a report published in The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of cannabis are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”
Researchers have found a correlation between cannabis and harder drug use, but correlation does not indicate causation.
In other words, hard drug users may also be cannabis users, but there’s no concrete evidence to show that cannabis has a gateway effect.
When looking at factors that act as a “gateway” to the use of illicit drugs, a number of variables come into play – none of which involve cannabis. According to various studies, poverty, poor social environment, and certain psychiatric disorders more commonly act as a gateway to hard drug use.
Alcohol and tobacco also play a large role in illicit drug use. In an article in Psychology Today, Constance Scharff, Ph.D., claims tobacco and alcohol lead to the subsequent use of hard drugs. In the article, she states:
Misconception #2: Smoking Cannabis Causes Lung Cancer
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a comprehensive report earlier this year that examined thousands of past cannabis studies. One of the biggest takeaways from the report? Cannabis does not cause lung cancer.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine:
“Regarding the link between cannabis and cancer, the committee found evidence that suggests smoking cannabis does not increase the risk for cancers often associated with tobacco use — such as lung and head and neck cancers.”
That’s not to say smoking cannabis has no harmful effect on the lungs. However, research has shown low to moderate use of cannabis does significantly less damage than tobacco.
Misconception #3: You Have to Smoke Cannabis
Most people are hesitant to use medical cannabis because they believe you have to smoke it.
While smoking is the primary consumption method for select patients, there are plenty of ways to experience its medical benefits.
You can ingest cannabis-infused snacks, take pills or capsules, consume oils or tinctures, or apply cannabis-infused balms and lotions topically.
Another increasingly popular method is vaping, which involves inhaling cannabis “vapor” or aerosol. Rather than burning it, vaporizers gently heat the cannabis so it doesn’t produce any smoke.
Misconception #4: All Medical Cannabis Gets You High
The two primary components in cannabis are THC and CBD. THC is the ingredient largely responsible for causing the “high” feeling people often associate with cannabis use.
CBD, on the other hand, does not produce any mind-altering effects. It’s also known to counteract the undesirable psychoactive effects of THC.
So, if you use a cannabis strain with a high CBD, low in THC ratio, you can reap the therapeutic benefits without feeling high.
If you obtain a medical cannabis prescription, you can choose from various strains with different concentrations of THC and CBD to suit your specific needs and condition.
Learn more about how to get a medical cannabis prescription and access legal cannabis in this post: How to Get a Medical Cannabis Prescription in 4 Easy Steps.
Misconception #5: Cannabis is Addictive
There is some truth to this myth – medical cannabis is addictive to approximately 9% of users.
However, the likelihood of becoming addicted to cannabis is far lower in comparison to hard drugs and legal substances like alcohol and tobacco.
According to a 1999 study by The Institute of Medicine, 32% of tobacco users become dependent and 15% of alcohol drinkers develop a dependency.
The study states, “Although few cannabis users develop dependence, some do. But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and cannabis dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.”
Misconception #6: Cannabis is Dangerous
While you can take too much cannabis, it’s essentially impossible to ingest a lethal amount. In other words, you cannot die from overdosing on cannabis – and there’s research to prove it.
The reality is many prescription drugs are more dangerous than cannabis. Opioids, in particular, are one of the deadliest pharmaceuticals – an estimated 2,816 Canadians died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016.
Misconception #7: Cannabis Makes You Lazy and Stupid
It’s time to put the outdated stoner stereotype to rest.
The amount of lethargy a person experiences after taking cannabis will vary based on a number of factors, including their tolerance level and the type of strain they’re using.
Some cannabis strains may induce relaxation or drowsiness – which can be highly beneficial for patients suffering from chronic pain or insomnia.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a number of strains produce an energetic buzz that can actually improve focus, boost clarity, and enhance creativity.
And, contrary to popular belief, evidence suggests cannabis may promote neurogenesis in the brain. This means long-term cannabis use doesn’t kill your brain cells – it might actually protect and improve cognitive function.
Looking for more information about medical cannabis?
Despite numerous scientific studies supporting cannabis as a safe and effective treatment for debilitating conditions like HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and chronic pain, misinformation and untruths persist.
That’s why we’ve made it our mission to educate and empower Canadians while enabling them to lead healthier lives.
Aha! is committed to bettering our members’ lives by providing the tools, guidance, and resources you need to make informed decisions about your health.
Contact us or call 1-888-980-9066 to learn more about medical cannabis.