By Paul A Philips
For many years I’ve carried certain untruths regarding cannabis. However, recently I’ve managed to shake off its so called bad reputation through reading some compelling evidence debunking those false claims used to justify the bad reputation and criminalisation. Plus there is overwhelming support for its health benefits.
At the time of writing this article there are 2 states in the USA that legalise it, while other states still make it an illegal substance. No doubt, the latter still carries deeply ingrained scare tactics like that from anti-cannabis campaigners such as Harry Anslinger who was quoted saying: “Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid spectres…”
It has been said that such unfounded claims really do not stand the test of scrutiny. Consistent with some of the most popular arguments against legalization, here are my 5 untruths about cannabis.
1. Cannibis is a step towards a life of crime
In some circumstances, tell people not to do something, make it illegal, then what do they do? They do the opposite, right? This in effect is what has happened by criminalising cannabis while contrary to mainstream media publications, the blanket statement that cannabis leads to crime is untrue. Statistical caveats can be found to debunk this statement. Take for example, the publication ‘PLOS One.’ During1990 to 2006 studies showed no relationship between crime and cannabis for personal medicinal use. In fact, crime figures either stayed the same or dropped.
2. Taking cannabis leads to harder drugs
The gateway theory; that taking this substance leads to harder dangerous addictive drugs such as heroin does not hold water either. This has about as much truth as saying all those who wear jeans will become heroin addicts in time. Meaning, wearing jeans or taking cannabis has no cause and effect relationship tied to heroin addiction. There is also no cause and effect relationship tied to experimenting with other substances. The Rand Institute has documented this from their many studies. Then there are the ‘Dutch Coffee Shop’ studies…
3. No health benefits
The US official Federal stand is that cannabis is dangerous and has no health benefits. Nothing could be further from the truth. Acceptance of effective medicinal use continues to grow: legalization is anticipated in a number of states before the 2015 election.
Health benefits include anti-cancerous effects by reducing tumours and as a treatment for glaucoma.
4. …but it’s addictive isn’t it?
Addiction has been misunderstood by getting tied into lifestyle habits. Just because someone is unkempt, scruffily dressed, dirty, unshaven or hard up for cash, giving someone the idea of a stereotypical drug user and takes cannabis doesn’t mean that the person is addicted. One study showed that cannabis is much less addictive than tobacco, alcohol or well known legal drugs (James C Anthony et al Experimental and Clinical Psycho pharmacology 1994. Vol. 2, No. 3, 244-268).
It should also be noted that this study was criticised. Due to bad science the 9% addiction claim was found to be misleadingly incorrect and in actuality much lower. It should also be remembered that the medicinal benefits were not known at the time. If it had been known then addiction might not have been confused with medicinal use… The same comments can be made for other similar studies.
5. Users lack so much energy…
The idea that users are lazy or lacking in energy is a myth. A small percentage of people have amotivational syndrome (a lack of motivation). Research has found that in comparison, the percentage of individuals with this syndrome in a non-user population was about the same as those in the cannabis user population (By David F Duncan, Psychology of Addictive Behaviours, Volume 1(2), 1987, 114-119). This confirms that cannabis had no significant effects on a lack of motivation.
This study effectively shakes off the prejudices’ that can be attributed to stoners. More and more data is coming to light which favours the legalization of cannabis, which could well blow away the bias or false stigmas attached to users.
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