Marijuana Myths and Facts Jack!
It is 2018, there are 9 states and Washington D.C., that have legalized marijuana for recreational use while it still remains a schedule 1 narcotic by the federal government of the United States. DOES THIS BLOW YOUR MIND LIKE MINE? Washington D.C IS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT!
Drugs in the Schedule 1 include: Heroin, LSD, Mescaline, MDMA, GHB, Ecstasy, Psilocybin, methaqualone, khat, and bath salts (hide yo faces). How are these things scheduled? Schedule 1 drugs are categorized based on the following characteristics:
- The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
- The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.
- There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or substance under medical supervision.
Lets explore some of the claims about marijuana shall we?
A) Is it a Gateway Drug?
Although this claim can’t effectively be substantiated without reasonable doubt, we can theorize and explore ideas and look at a little data. If you smoke cannabis you are 104 times more likely to do cocaine. YIKES! Yet as a scientist I have to say, correlation doesn’t mean causation, but that does seem pretty persuasive, lets explore this from a marijuana proponent angle. Where can a marijuana smoker get their marijuana? If its illegal, the black market. How often does a marijuana dealer dabble in selling other narcotics? I would argue more than a legal marijuana distribution center. Does it stand to reason that if you are forced to buy on the black market instead of an established business, you are more likely to be persuaded into using other drugs just by the fact that you are around them? I would say fuck yes it is, but in order to entertain my assumption we need to wait for data concerning those states that have legal weed. With this data, we can evaluate the, “gateway,” theory by following first time users over their lifetime and see if they ever experiment with alternative drugs and compare that to existing data we have from states where it is illegal. Time will tell on this one.
Lets get some science on what exactly the Gateway Effect is shall we?
"The gateway effect, if it exists, has at least two potential and quite different sources (MacCoun, 1998). One interpretation is that it is an effect of the drug use itself (e.g., trying marijuana increases the taste for other drugs or leads users to believe that other substances are more pleasurable or less risky than previously supposed). A second interpretation stresses peer groups and social interactions. Acquiring and using marijuana regularly may lead to differentially associating with peers who have attitudes and behaviors that are prodrug generally, not only with respect to marijuana. One version of this is the possibility that those peers will include people who sell other drugs, reducing the difficulty of locating potential supplies. If the latter is the explanation, then legalization might reduce the likelihood of moving on to harder drugs compared to the current situation."
Kilmer, Beau; Caulkins, Jonathan P.; Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo; MacCoun, Robert J.; Reuter, Peter H., "Altered State? Assessing How Marijuana Legalization in California Could Influence Marijuana Consumption and Public Budgets" Drug Policy Research Center (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010), p. 42.
B) Does Marijuana Cause Mental Illness?
There is no evidence of this in the scientific literature. There is anecdotal evidence that subsequent to marijuana usage individuals have fallen into mental illness, but we must put this into context. Eighteen percent, or 1 in 5 Americans, suffer from mental illness, it would stand to reason that some individuals mental disorder would in fact onset after usage of marijuana. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that despite anxiety, depression, and personality disorders tied to the chronic use of this plant, they can’t say definitively that it causes these problems.
C) Is Pot Addictive?
Marijuana has not been proven to be physically addictive like over the counter narcotics or heroin would be, but experts agree it is habitual, so although you wont feel physically ill, it will be on your mind and you may crave it like you do when you forget your morning coffee. Dammit, why did I forget my coffee? The National Institute on Drug Abuse declares that addiction is the continued use of a drug despite it negatively effecting your home, work or school life, is it fucking you up? Then YOU may be addicted, Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self, chickity-check yo’self. I strongly urge anyone interested in addiction to seek out Dr. Karl Hart. He is an incredibly interesting and brilliant man in the world of drug addiction and has some unorthodox views on drugs and addiction you may find as interesting as I do. If you are not a reader and you dig podcasts go to:
Both amazing podcasts with Dr. Karl Hart.
D) Is it Just as Harmful as Cigarettes?
A 2016 study says NO, it actually promotes FVC-Forced Vital Capacity, it is also a bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory. This sounds all well and fine, but there just hasn’t been long enough studies to determine this without a doubt. For instance there are some researchers that are concerned about the inhalation of plant matter and they speculate that this can be more harmful than cigarettes.
E) Does Marijuana Control Seizures?
A 2003 study says YES. Apparently the alkaloid tetrahydrocannabinol-THC, controls seizures by binding to the brain cells that stimulate the seizures and relaxes them preventing the seizure.
F) Can it Stop Cancer from Spreading?
CBD-Cannabidoil stops the proliferation of cancer by turning off the ID-1 gene. This gene helps cancer spread through the body. There have been several repetitions of this study, and results have remained consistent.
E) Does Marijuana Decrease Anxiety?
Whoa whoa whoa, wait a minute, really? A Harvard study from 2010 says yes. It can act as a mild sedative, putting a person at ease which improves mood and lowers innate anxiety. BUT, in high doses it is known to cause severe paranoia. That can be confusing!
F) Does Marijuana Slow the Progression of Alzheimer’s disease?
In 2006 a study came out of the Scripps Research Institute suggesting THC slows the production of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme that makes them. The plaques are what is assumed to cause Alzheimers.
G) Does it help your Metabolism and Keep you Skinny?
Marijuana has been proven to improve peoples metabolism and reaction to sugar despite the infamous muchies, which commonly cause marijuana smokers to indulge in more eating. Study published in American Journal of Medicine.
H) Can it help Veterans with PTSD?
In can, and there are currently clinical trials underway by MAPS. Cannabinoids found in marijuana, help regulate the internal system that causes fear and anxiety in the brain and the body. This is taking place because cannabinoids, a naturally occurring substance in humans, is also what THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is.
I) Can Marijuana Soothe Parkinson’s Tremors?
Research out of Israel shows that the use of marijuana reduces pain and tremors caused by Parkinson’s. The most impressive improvement in these patients was fine motor skills. Medical Marijuana and research is allowed in Israel and supported by their government.
Fun Fact: Henry Ford’s first Model-T was built to run on hemp gasoline and the car itself was constructed from hemp! On his large estate, Ford was photographed among his hemp fields. The car, ‘grown from the soil,’ had hemp plastic panels whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel. (Popular Mechanics, 1941.)
One thing that you may have noticed is the lack of research into this, “narcotic with no medical benefit,” WHY? With so many states moving forward with legalization, what has the federal government on pause? One would think that if the federal government's priority is truly to keep the public safe, they would be allowing proper research into the subject matter in order to prove their current claims, that marijuana is a harmful substance with no medical benefits. In my next article I am going to dive into the road blocks the government puts up in order to conduct basic, clinical, and population health research into cannabis.
Want to know about the United States History with Marijuana? Click HERE
Want to know more about the Regulatory Barriers Preventing Research into Marijuana? Click HERE
Want to know more about MAPS- Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies ( MAPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. Click HERE