Cannabis, also known as marijuana or hashish, is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that has several molecules with psychoactive effects, including a molecular compound known as “tetrahydrocannabinol” (THC).
On the other hand, another characteristic of marijuana is the high degree of acceptance it enjoys, and its use is very common in countries around the world, especially among adolescents and young people. However, being relatively popular does not mean that this drug is harmless.
The conjunction of economic interests behind cannabis, on the one hand, the complexity of how drugs work, on the other, and the fact that the consumption of these products remains taboo in many respects, has led to the emergence of there are a large number of myths about marijuana, which expose people to misinformation and risk-taking by consuming this substance out of sheer ignorance. Therefore, in this article we will consider major misconceptions about marijuana.
Misconceptions About Marijuana Use
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about marijuana use.
1. Marijuana is a natural product
The concept of “natural” is widely used as an adjective in the marketing world, as it is a vague idea which, however, is associated with positive qualities. In this case, both in countries where the sale of marijuana is legal and in which it is not, it has been implemented a cannabis advertising scheme that claims it is a natural product because it is not created in the laboratory by the synthesis of molecules, but obtained by making minimal modifications to the parts of a plant.
But keep in mind that nature is full of highly toxic and unhealthy elements. That marijuana is called a “natural product” (that is, it can be consumed without being artificially transformed) and comes from a plant does not mean that it cannot cause health problems, because in this sense tobacco and opium are also natural (in addition to tobacco, they often contain a lot of added chemicals, because natural tobacco can also cause long-term health problems).
And, on the other hand, the cannabis plants used to create the product are far from the organisms that we can find in nature; in the vast majority of cases they are the result of artificial selection for generations, so those in which the amount of THC is higher are selected to increase the addictive potential of the drug. Thus, human intervention is in the very DNA of the plant that is used to sell marijuana.
2. Marijuana is harmless to your health
One of the main misconceptions about marijuana use is the idea that some people believe that marijuana is safe for health because it is an “ecological” and natural substance, derived from the myth that we have seen before. .
One of the most notable problems of prolonged marijuana use is the alterations that various studies have shown cause in the brain. Additionally, it can cause a myriad of physical and psychological problems, such as those below.
It should be noted that the results of several studies published in 2022 highlighted that if marijuana is used during pregnancy, it could cause the baby to experience anxiety and hyperactivity.
The most recent edition of the DSM-5 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reflects “cannabis use disorder” and “cannabis poisoning”, the main being Symptoms of intoxication include the following: Recurrent drinking can lead to problematic behaviors and even significant psychological changes (eg, euphoria, motor incoordination, anxiety, impaired judgment, etc.).
Additionally, two or more of the following symptoms may occur with cannabis poisoning: significant increase in appetite, tachycardia, dry mouth, and conjunctival injection.
To be able to diagnose a cannabis disorder, it must have been used frequently for a long period of time symptoms such as the following have been present for at least 1 year: there is a persistent desire or effort to stop using marijuana, investing too much time in activities necessary to obtain marijuana, there is a strong desire to use marijuana, that frequent use causes the person to miss work or school obligations, consumes increasing amounts, etc.
3. Having therapeutic effects, nothing wrong with smoking a leek
Among the false beliefs about marijuana use, we can see that there are those who believe that having therapeutic effects means nothing to smoking. However, the medical uses that are carried out under the supervision of professionals are far from being recreational consumption, therefore it cannot be said to be therapeutic if it has not been prescribed by a doctorin which case the recommended quantities should not be exceeded.
It should be noted that some studies have shown that marijuana can help with pain, provided it is consumed under medical supervision and not to exceed the prescribed amounts. However, data on its therapeutic efficacy are still insufficient today, so more studies are needed to prove it.
4. Marijuana is not addictive
Another common misconception about marijuana use is that some people believe that marijuana use cannot be addictive. they are convinced that they could stop using drastically without consequences. Many researches have shown that prolonged consumption can often lead to addiction, especially if it begins to be consumed during adolescence.
It should be mentioned that the DSM-5 reflects the “cannabis withdrawal syndrome”, the main symptoms being: when the use of marijuana suddenly stops, after having used it frequently for a long time, it can reach 3 or more symptoms such as than aggression. , anger or irritability, anxiety or nervousness, insomnia, loss of appetite and even weight loss, agitation, depressed mood and even certain physiological symptoms (tremors, sweating, fever, chills, abdominal pain or headache).
5. Marijuana is much less harmful to health than tobacco
One of the most common misconceptions about marijuana use is the idea that marijuana is not as harmful to your health as tobacco.
What really happens is that it has been shown that Cannabis contains a high percentage of tobacco carcinogens and also a higher amount (up to 50% more). On the other hand, smoking an unfiltered marijuana leek and deeply inhaling the smoke significantly increases the risk of cancer.
In addition, smoking marijuana produces a bronchodilator effect, which increases the absorption of various toxic substances, such as tobacco. Therefore, smoking marijuana leeks can also be harmful to second-hand smokers.
6. Marijuana cannot cause mental disorders
One of the most dangerous misconceptions about marijuana use is the idea that its use cannot lead to mental illness.
The reality is that at any point in cannabis addiction, even after using very little for a short time, They can trigger a variety of psychiatric disordersthe most common being depressive disorders, psychotic flare-ups or even the development of schizophrenia, so great care should be taken when using marijuana for recreational purposes, as the serious consequences that can be triggered could be irreversible.
7. It’s not dangerous to drive if the marijuana has just been consumed.
Among the main misconceptions about marijuana use, there is one that is very dangerous for road safety and it is the thought of some people who believe that if they have smoked a leek they are not in danger if they drive a vehicle afterwards.
The truth is that if you drive a vehicle under the effects of cannabis, this puts not only his own life in danger, but also that of the people and their companions who are in the vehicles which circulatetherefore, it could be the most dangerous misconception about cannabis use.
It is dangerous to drive a vehicle when marijuana has been consumed because this substance causes a considerable decrease in attention, causes an increase in reaction time, therefore the response and reflexes will be slower, can considerably distort reality and also prevent the person from calculating distances correctly, which could lead to a collision with another vehicle.
Another problem that occurs quite often is when a person is driving a vehicle after consuming marijuana and alcohol, it is not uncommon to read or see on television several reports of an accident caused by a driver who had tested positive for alcohol and cannabis or other substances.
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- American Psychiatric Association. (2014). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM – 5. Madrid: Panamericana.
- Galván, G., Guerrero-Martelo, M. & Vásquez, F. (2017). Cannabis: a cognitive illusion. Colombian Journal of Psychiatry, 46 (2), pp. 95-102.
- National Drug Insurance Scheme (sf). Cannabis myths and facts. Government of Spain. Ministry of Health: National Drugs Plan.
- Ruiz, JM & Pedrero, EJ (2014). Neuropsychology of drug addiction. Madrid: Editorial Médica Panamericana.
- Wallis, C. (2019). Does Cannabis Help Relieve Pain? Mind & Brain, 98, pp. 36-37.