Misinformation hurts everyone who is involved with cannabis

Published Nov 18, 2020 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / frankpeters

The cannabis industry, advocates, and consumers have done their best to bring to light all that this incredible plant has to offer. Still, that information is getting lost amid a sea of misinformation that is spreading across social media platforms, forums, and by word of mouth. When this happens, it's more than unfortunate because when it comes to any substance, including cannabis, misinformation can be dangerous, and under the direst circumstance, deadly,

What is misinformation?

Misinformation is precisely how it sounds. Incorrect facts that spread wide and far often presented as truths to anyone who might listen. It can be spread by consumers, pot shops, media agencies, producers, and just about anyone in between. Its impact can be devastating for numerous individuals who get the shock of their lives when they find out in the middle of a cannabis experience that what they once believed to be accurate, is little more than a myth.

Who gets hurt?

We talk a lot about how misinformation harms adolescence because we worry about our most vulnerable first. Still, we rarely hear about the terrible results that are experienced by the grown-ups who are somehow or another involved with the industry. Here, we're going to focus on them because they are the backbone and drivers of the evolution of the cannabis market.

1. Recreational users

Recreational consumers are the largest group of cannabis users out there, which is why they're number one on our list of those most adversely impacted by misinformation. Be it appropriate dosing, tolerance levels, varying strain effects, or any other aspect of cannabis consumption. Misinformation steers recreational cannabis users in the wrong direction, which can result in less than desirable outcomes.

2. Medical patients

Medical patients often face discrimination based on biased misinformation surrounding cannabis. They struggle to get approval or guidance from healthcare practitioners, and even if they're lucky enough to receive their doctor's blessing, they usually have no idea of where to start. Many medical patients end up at recreational dispensaries, as they're under the impression that all weed strains and their benefits should be equal. As you can imagine, this leads to a lower success rate with this type of therapy.

3. Doctors

Most patients who would like to try cannabis in place of other more traditional pharmaceuticals are stopped when they realize their health expert knows little to nothing about cannabis. One might assume that medical doctors should be highly educated on all possible medicines, but the reality is that misinformation is a demotivator that prohibits this from happening. Doctors assume their patients will always be high or that old stereotypes like Indica for pain and Sativa for energy hold because real education is costly and time-consuming, all of which creates barriers for medical professionals.

4. Producers

Producers are some of the least talked about in the cannabis industry because they do most of their best work in the background, so we don't get to witness their skills, and yet they are some of the most heavily impacted by misinformation. Even in regions where the green is legal, producers must fight and negotiate with municipalities based on their biased opinions of cannabis, and this is a significant barrier in the way of expansion for the pot industry.

5. Cannabis store owners

Cannabis store owners and employees have placed into a precarious situation, thanks to misinformation. Much like producers, they must hope for approval based on municipality rules, which are often based on unfounded myths. On top of that, they must service consumers who have fallen victim to misinformation, so they must choose between encouraging old stereotypes and educating consumers on their products. Something incredibly challenging to do when cannabis ads are so highly restricted.

The effects of misinformation on youth

We promised to focus on the adults that are most impacted by cannabis misinformation. Still, we must highlight the effects that it might have on future generations that follow after us. Some teenagers believe that cannabis use in the least healthy way will cause no ill effects, and many who view cannabis as compared to alcohol or prescription drugs, both of which are vastly different. If we want our youth to come of age and be prepared for what awaits them if they chose to try cannabis then we need to arm them with all of the truth and facts that we can muster.

No matter which way you look at it, misinformation surrounding substances is a hazard that must be stopped. Otherwise, we risk progress and a flourishing future that isn't fraught with problems like the ones that cannabis consumers must navigate today.

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