5 Health risk myths about cannabis that aren’t true

Published Jun 25, 2019 12:44 p.m. ET
iStock / Charles Wollertz

Though there is no denying that there are some possible negative effects of weed, there are so many more benefits that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Especially since most of the real adverse outcomes from cannabis use are from overconsumption, product confusion, or a simple stroke of bad luck. Unfortunately, the many myths surrounding the negative effects of weed still stand in the way of true legalization, as so many people still believe that these products can be harmful to your health. To help clear the air, here are five of the most popular misconceptions about cannabis.

1. Smoking marijuana causes cancer

Though the act of smoking any substance can be irritating to the lungs, there is absolutely no evidence available to suggest that consuming cannabis in any manner would or could ever cause cancer. Cigarettes are often used as a comparison in this myth, but tobacco and manufactured smokes contain hundreds of additional carcinogens, chemicals, and toxins that are not present in marijuana.

2. Consuming cannabis kills brain cells

A lot of the old school propaganda spread the idea that marijuana consumers were losing brain cells with every single toke. Some of the older cannabis videos from the age of prohibition even went so far as to claim that continued or regular use would lead to you losing your mind and going crazy. The marijuana facts, in this case, do hold some merit, but not enough to concern yourself with. It is true that inhaling anything other than regular air; it will deprive the brain of oxygen, which does inevitably kill off a few brain cells. However, the number that dies are not even close to the amount that is made every single minute. Our brain cells are always naturally dying and rejuvenating, it’s not something we only have a limited supply of, so if you aren’t smoking so much that you can breathe and are suffocating, you won’t be experiencing this negative effect from smoking weed.

3. Weed is more intoxicating than alcohol


A lot of people are under the impression that smoking a bit of cannabis or eating an edible will be more intoxicating and or debilitating then drinking booze. Though regular drinkers who are using marijuana products for the first time may feel sensations that are more intense or uncomfortable than they would after one drink, that is only because they have not built a tolerance to THC. For the most part, regular consumers know that not remembering how you got home is not one of the negative effects of weed, unlike alcohol, which is known for its blackout causing abilities. In studies that have been conducted on cognitive impairment in situations like driving, cannabis consumers have consistently scored an average of 30%-40% better than their drinking counterparts, so there is no way that this myth holds any truth.

4. You can overdose on cannabis

Since marijuana legalization in Canada, there have been several media sensationalized headlines that have used the term overdose in an incredibly loose sense. Most people hear the word overdose and think of alcohol or opioid overdose, which can be fatal and kills thousands of people each year. When it is used in the case of marijuana use, it means something else entirely. An overdose on THC is often an overwhelming sensation that induces panic in the user. A few of the most common are fear, anxiety, paranoia, and trouble moving or staying away. These cases never require more than supervision, a hearty meal, and in some of the worst cases, rehydration to help the person recover from the experience. Cannabis is in no way toxic. The idea of it being possible to fatally overdose has been tested by many, and it would require one person consuming well over 3000 joints all at one time for that to even become a reality, which is physically impossible. Though it is possible to fall asleep and be difficult to wake or become anxious and alarmed after overconsumption of THC products, you do not have to worry about a lethal overdose when smoking or to eat marijuana.

5. Marijuana products will make you hallucinate

Much of the older propaganda cannabis videos implied the possibility of hallucinations after smoking pot. This, along with told stories of intense first experiences, has led many to believe that this is possible. The marijuana facts that can be confirmed almost anywhere you look show that cannabis by itself will not cause this sort of effect. There have been some consumers report blurred colors or vision, especially after their first time with the element, but smoking marijuana will not make you see things that aren’t there, as it is not hallucinogenic.



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