50 years ago in Canada, people thought cannabis was incredibly dangerous. They said to each other, “Pot will make you go insane.” They said, “It’s bad—nay, evil. Stay away!”
Somehow it was okay to drink alcohol, and okay to smoke cigarettes, but marijuana? Get that stuff away from me!
Since then, the natural flower has become far less stigmatized in Canada, as more and more studies are vouching for its benefits, and more and more Canadians are using cannabis for medicinal purposes like easing pain and anxiety. Most Canadians know that cannabis can help with pain, especially chronic pain; that’s why doctors prescribe it as pain management medication. Most Canadians also know that cannabis products like cheap weed can help people relax, fall asleep, and be creative.
The public perception of cannabis has become more accurate. Yet for all the progress we’ve made, myths around the drug still abound. People tell their kids, “It’ll give you cancer!” They say, “The stuff will get you addicted!”
Here’s a look at those two myths and why they’re just that—myths.
Myth #1 Cannabis Causes Cancer
Smoking cigarettes causes cancer, everyone knows that. But does consuming cannabis do the same?
It makes sense why people would believe cannabis is carcinogenic. People smoke cigarettes, and people smoke weed, and smoke is bad for the lungs.
However, in reality, although marijuana smoke does indeed contain small amounts of carcinogens, it contains far less than tobacco smoke. And even though marijuana smoke contains small amounts of carcinogens, even heavy users, it turns out, aren’t more likely to get cancer than non-users, according to one pivotal study. On the contrary, using cannabis has been linked to reduced rates of cancer. It may sound counterintuitive, but weed may actually inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors.
Still, it is true that smoke isn’t good for your lungs. If you’re still worried about smoking joints, then, remember that other options are easier on your lungs. Consuming cannabis edibles and beverages are two popular alternatives. They have a similar effect to smoking marijuana but take longer to kick in, due to the way the body processes them. Some people prefer joints to edibles and beverages, while others prefer the reverse. It depends on the person and context.
Myth #2 Cannabis is Addictive
Cannabis doesn’t come without some risk of dependence. Research shows that about 9% of marijuana users become dependent at some point in their lives. But cannabis is certainly not as addictive as people once thought it was.
For scope, just under 20% of Canadians are heavy drinkers.
People who use cannabis in their adolescence are far more likely to become dependent than people who use cannabis later in life. People with a history of schizophrenia who use cannabis may be more likely to develop psychosis than they would if they avoided the substance.
The Bottom Line
Cannabis used to have a bad reputation in Canada, but as more and more research suggests, the drug isn’t as dangerous as people once believed. On the contrary, it may come with a lot of positive attributes.
Not enough research has been done to draw any firm conclusions, but what research has been done so far is promising for cannabis users and people considering giving cannabis products a try.
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