MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT CANNABIS

Misconceptions about cannabis:

Wrong. There has never been a single confirmed death by a cannabis overdose in the history of the world. True, cannabis has occasionally been a contributing factor in deaths, but those are instances of either lifestyle dangers (e.g., trafficking/dealing/cartel violence) or gross negligence leading to accidents. And those outliers are vastly usurped by alcohol-related deaths, prescription drug overdoses, or even accidents resulting from fatigue.

There are countless other everyday things that are more likely to kill you than cannabis (heck, even atomic wedgies have been more deadly lately), but cannabis opponents are often all-too eager to jump on any potential drawbacks of the plant and spread fear messages that cannabis will kill you. Like alcohol, cannabis is intended for responsible adults (with some medical exceptions, of course). And like alcohol, sometimes people abuse cannabis or are irresponsible with it. But unlike alcohol, cannabis tends to get the brunt of the blame when something negative happens. Does an angry mob lash out at Budweiser or Grey Goose and clamor to make alcohol illegal whenever someone gets a DUI or dies from an alcohol-related incident?

Let’s be clear: anything can be dangerous in excessive amounts. You could die from drinking too much water, for crying out loud. But because cannabis has a global spotlight shining on it, it’s all the more important to be both responsible with and respectful to a plant that too often gets a heap of criticism piled atop it. As far as how dangerous cannabis is, well, so far the population of Colorado hasn’t died off drastically since January 1st (in fact, crime is down in comparison to the same time period in 2013) so that’s a pretty good sign thus far that the world won’t devolve into a Thunderdome situation if cannabis were legalized.

Wrong. We’ve all heard this one from as early on as our elementary school D.A.R.E. days, and it’s a popular argument your parents have used to illustrate the slippery slope that starts with cannabis and ends with injecting heroin between your toes. Yes, there is a correlation between cannabis consumption and other drug use, but as TIME points out, correlation does not equal causation. While hard drug users may also be cannabis users, the vast majority of cannabis users aren’t going to graduate to stronger drugs.

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences compiled a report commissioned by Congress examining the potential dangers of cannabis. Included in the report was this statement:

There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.

Other studies have followed suit, and alcohol is actually being touted as more of a serious gateway drug than cannabis. Yet somehow the naysayers don’t get tired of whipping this misconception out of their debate book and using it as ammunition.

The general negativity surrounding the word “cannabis” or “marijuana” alone is frustrating enough. All of the above misconceptions bubble up as soon as someone who is opposed to cannabis hears the word uttered. Or maybe people just have a negative association with cannabis simply because they’ve been taught for so many years that cannabis is bad. Either way, “Cannabis = evil” is something the industry has been trying to overcome for decades. We’ve made incredible progress in the past couple years alone, but we still have a ways to go before most people think of “cannabis” as just another word instead of a launchpad for a heated and misinformed debate.

A misconception that’s inspired numerous states from coast to coast to make a change. Yes, cannabis is illegal federally, but not because it has negative connotations, it’s dangerous, it makes you lazy and stupid, or because it’s a gateway drug. In fact, cannabis was quite a cash crop before the 1800s. Unfortunately, hundreds of years of misguided drug labeling, xenophobia, and fear mongering has twisted a plant once celebrated for its therapeutic and textile benefits into a big bad bogeyman that hides in your kids’ closets and turns them into junkies against their will. So actually, cannabis is illegal for no logical reason other than misguided tradition. As more states continue to shape history and change the way we think about this plant, our hope is that in the near future, this misguided tradition will quickly become a fading memory.