Weed never hurt anybody, right? Well…
Before we begin: This article is going to touch on some hard subjects. We’ll be discussing mortality, serious injuries and other topics that can be difficult to talk about. So, fair warning, while we think these are important things to discuss, those sensitive to such subjects might want to peruse one of our other, slightly lighter-in-tone articles. May we suggest
While it’s true that there are
Why does this happen? There are a number of reasons, but there is one root cause that, in some shape or another, underlines nearly all cannabis-related injuries: Misinformation.
What you don’t know can hurt you, and in today’s piece we’ll be discussing the whys and hows of dangerous cannabis myths, the sorts of damage they can cause and what you can do to help make them disappear. Let’s get started.
How Cannabis-Related Myths Form
First, to understand the propagation of misinformation in cannabis, we need to understand the history of cannabis itself, and its position as an underground, counter-culture activity.
Though cannabis use was prevalent among various cultures throughout history, the 20th century brought changes to the laws of many countries, ultimately classifying cannabis as a harmful drug and pushing its use to an underground status.
An illegal drug is a dangerous drug, not only due to any inherent harm it may cause but due to a lack of information – both in the scientific and public eye – as to that drug’s effects.
With cannabis made illegal (and often vilified) for so many years, scientific research on the subject was brought to a virtual halt (save the
As an example: The common knowledge that indica-strain cannabis induces a heavier, sleepier sensation, while sativa-strain cannabis offers a lighter, more energetic high.
This is a capital-T Truth, one that literally every stoner in the world knows about – odds are it’s one of the very first things you, our reader, learned about cannabis use (likely from one of the stoners previously mentioned).
Colloquial Evidence Does Not Equal Actual Evidence
How did humanity collectively come to this conclusion about sativa and indica strains? Your guess is as good as ours.
At some point in history someone (likely with the aid of others) smoked a sativa strain of weed, then smoked an indica strain of weed, and they decided unilaterally that one got them lifted while the other got them couch-locked.
This anecdotal evidence was then shared with others (who likely agreed either due to similar anecdotal experiences or some form of social pressure), which was shared with even more others, and so on and so forth until it is assumed to be a true fact that is widely accepted.
Rigorous scientific study has, in more recent years, worked to
Not All Myths Are Equal
While our above example is certainly a myth that needs to be dispelled, ultimately the harm arising from this sort of misinformation is fairly negligible – it’s likely that very few people have ever been injured mistaking a sativa from an indica. But it serves as an excellent example of the ignorance fostered by prohibition.
Had cannabis been legalized throughout most of the world during the 20th and 21st centuries, information such as this could have been made available much sooner, offering us greater insights into the therapeutic benefits and differences between varying types of cannabis.
We, as a knowledge-seeking public, could have been much better informed, and a lack of information on cannabis can lead – and has led – to death.
Cannabis & Accidental Deaths
Though there have been no deaths on record directly identified as being caused by an overdose of cannabis consumption, that doesn’t make getting high without its risks.
While reports of traffic accidents
Likewise, in 2017 horrific explosions
At the time of the Portland explosion, the DEA estimated that at least
A Lack of Regulation
In combination with a lack of information, a lack of governmental oversight and regulatory committee on cannabis also leads to decreased public safety.
We talk about this topic in greater detail in our article “
With virtually no oversight, and thus no standardized levels of quality control, cannabis products containing dangerous contaminants are unfortunately common. One of the most recent and notable
Know What You’re Vaping
It is believed that for a majority of those who suffered from ill effects in the above outbreak, a vitamin E-based acetate was used to either dilute or thicken the vape liquid that made consumers fall ill.
To date, though, no one identifiable compound has been singled out as the culprit for the outbreak; with so many different vape brands and untested products being used, it’s likely there were multiple chemicals causing varying reactions among consumers.
With a lack of regulation (both in the cannabis industry and the booming vape industry) there are no federally-approved lists of safe ingredients for cannabis vape carts, placing the responsibility of safety in the hands of the companies making these products – companies which, in the above case, ultimately cared so little about anything other than profit that they sold cannabis goods that left people either dead or dying.
Legal Cannabinoids & Lax Regulations
Lack of regulation has effects on more than just the cannabis market; it also affects
In 2019, Austin-local CBS affiliate KEYE-TV ran a
Additionally, and more recently, the rise of the legal cannabinoid Delta-8 THC has given cause for concern among medical professionals and researchers through-out the U.S.
Delta-8 & The Unknown
Though most Delta-8 THC companies claim that their products do not contain D9 THC (and naturally no other contaminants), this is sadly not always the case.
In a study presented by the self-styled (and in no way governmentally official) “U.S. Cannabis Council” they found multiple Delta-8 products (
These are all issues that could be helped, if not completely mitigated, by creating smart federal regulations and oversight committees for the production and sale of cannabis-related products.
Prohibition as a Cause For Danger
We’ve gone from a lack of information to a lack of regulation – how do these two things tie together? For one, both ultimately stem back to marijuana’s status as a prohibited substance.
Being an illegal drug, not only is the general public ill-informed as to what cannabis is and what its effects are, but also what they, as smart consumers, should be expecting from their cannabis products.
With no governmental regulatory boards overseeing the manufacture of cannabis goods, the analogy of “the wild west” gets thrown around a lot and with excellent reason.
Years of keeping cannabis use relegated to the underground means that most people are misinformed as to what cannabis actually is – how it affects the human body, what it should do and how it should be taken.
General members of the public also are unlikely to be aware of what they should be keeping watch for when using cannabis-related products; that they should be wary of goods that don’t proudly display third-party and independently verified laboratory tests.
And, though it may feel different in areas where cannabis use has been legalized in some fashion or another, there is still a large stigma around cannabis use of any kind through-out large parts of the United States (often particularly among older citizens).
Rather than going through a trusted, more public source, an older person seeking relief via CBD oil might go through a black market – and more private – channel for their medicine, rather than run the risk of being judged by their peers who still see any weed-related good as a “drug” to be detested.
What Can Be Done About Dangerous Cannabis Myths?
These are some pretty serious topics, and so far none with easy conclusions. So, what can be done about all of this?
Halting the spread of misinformation starts with one person – you. And though the world of legal cannabis can be a tricky one to navigate, still filled with vast swaths of myths and outright nonsense, keeping yourself up-to-date with the latest news and information on cannabis is the best place to start (we personally recommend
Additionally, don’t be afraid to share the truth, and to help inform others of misinformation where and when you can. Nobody likes an obnoxious know-it-all, but where possible don’t be fearful of speaking up and letting others know that there’s new research and information coming out every month that may dispel some of their own misconceptions about marijuana.
And finally? Speak out to and among the powers that be, which include your local, state and federal government. Your vote – your voice – makes a difference, no matter who may try to convince you otherwise. Particularly now, as cannabis decriminalization on a federal level seems to be more and more likely, it’s important to get involved with politics both local and national, and let your opinions be known.
If you find yourself interested in becoming involved in helping spread true information about safe, responsible use of cannabis, there are a number of groups devoted to helping shape national discussion and policy on both medical and recreational marijuana use; if you feel like donating your time, money or both to the cause, we would recommend taking a look at the following organizations:
We hope our article has helped shed some light on why the removal of myths in the cannabis world is important.
The more everyone stays well-informed – cannabis consumers and abstainers alike – the more we, as a society, can begin treating cannabis use as both the recreational entertainment and potent medication it can be.
Stay safe, and as always, happy smoking!