Along with 100 years of prohibition came strong propaganda, so much so that it requires a complete public re-education to undo some of the ideas implanted by the anti-cannabis political stance of the past. Until the last decade, even scientific research with respect to cannabis was limited because of strict policies against testing. This left a huge gap in the scientific understanding of cannabis, how it actually affects humans and whether or not it has a valid medical application.
It has been a colossal task of the cannabis industry to address this public miseducation, and cannabis legalization around the world has led to a monumental amount of scientific research. The growing understanding is slowly chipping away at rumors that have been developed over a century. Even education at a base level, such as in medical school, needs to change to accommodate everything we are now learning about cannabinoids.
Let’s have a look at 3 rumors about Cannabidiol and cannabis and whether or not we can bust those myths.
- Cannabis makes a person stupid or crazy
It is almost entertaining these days to hear the rumor that cannabis makes a person stupid or crazy. In fact, some of the world’s best entrepreneurs, athletes, celebrities and thinkers have admitted to using cannabis at some point (Carl Sagan being a prime example). At the same time, a huge part of cannabis propaganda was that it made a person stupid, lazy, unable to maintain relationships, prone to impulsive behavior and maybe even psychotic.
The case of cannabis and psychosis is sensitive, as it has been generally accepted in the past that there is a direct causal relationship between THC and psychosis. But modern science does not accept this hypothesis, nor has it ever been proven. Rather, there is an association between THC and psychosis, and it may be bidirectional. That’s to say, those who are prone to psychosis are possibly more likely to self-medicate with cannabis. On top of that, in places where cannabis has been legalized and its use has increased, there has been no noted increase in psychosis cases.
It is also important to add that cannabis contains much more than THC. One of the most prevalent cannabinoids in cannabis is actually anti-psychotic, it mediates the effects of THC, and it is sometimes even recommended as an adjunctive treatment for schizophrenia. It is CBD, and is one of the most commonly used cannabinoids in the USA, especially by medicinal cannabis users.
It’s a mystery, in fact, that so many people came to accept stupidity, laziness, and psychosis as side effects of cannabis use. There has never been any evidence to support these claims, and the widespread acceptance of these claims is a testament to the power of propaganda. Chronic use may have an effect on cognition, memory, and productivity in the long term, but there is no evidence to suggest that these effects are imminent even for infrequent users. Plus, there is no evidence that states these negative effects as irreversible even after cessation.
2. CBD is a hoax or a scam
Another rumor prevailing American media at the moment is that CBD is a hoax, a fad, or simply a marketing gimmick. Even Forbes published an article about why CBD water is a scam and might even be dangerous. Other well-frequented blog websites such as Muscle For Life also go so far as to say that “CBD oil is basically a scam”.
There are two ways to tackle this rumor; the first is by discussing some of the therapeutic benefits of CBD that have been scientifically proven. The second is to address the marketing tactics at play for this unregulated industry and to demonstrate that they do not devalue the therapeutic qualities of CBD.
Firstly, countless studies have been conducted on CBD’s ability to treat symptoms of epilepsy, anxiety, chronic pain, cancer, depression, PTSD, Crohn’s disease and many, many others. Perhaps the most pertinent one to discuss is CBD’s analgesic effects because more and more Americans are choosing cannabinoids over opioids for the treatment of chronic pain.
An estimated 20.4% of the American population is dealing with chronic pain, leading many to seek relief from opioids. At the same time, the opioid crisis has caused a dire need for alternative treatments and plenty of Americans have turned to CBD. At least 6% of Americans have turned to cannabinoids for treatment of chronic pain.
Walker and Huang, in this study, point out some of the key antinociceptive qualities of cannabinoids in cases of acute and persistent pain. The role of the endocannabinoid system in the treatment of pain has also been implicated as in this study, where it was concluded that stimulation of the CB1 receptor reduces inflammation and hyperalgesia. This may be more appropriate to the discussion of THC, as it is THC that stimulates the CB1 receptor. Nonetheless, it is relevant to this topic.
In fact, three studies have just been cited about the effects of cannabinoids for pain, and there are hundreds more. Next, to chronic pain, epilepsy is probably the next most investigated disease in the context of cannabinoid treatment. GW Pharmaceuticals has even manufactured a pharmaceutical-grade, cannabis-derived product for the treatment of epilepsy. It is called Sativex and contains a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio. There is class 1 evidence that adjunctive use of CBD improves seizure control in certain kinds of epilepsy.
CBD is certainly not a hoax, a scam or a marketing gimmick of the cannabis industry. It holds real and important value in the medical world, especially for treatment-resistant conditions. Furthermore, it should not be dismissed as a hoax purely on the basis of propaganda.
That’s not to say that there are not CBD companies out there taking advantage of marketing techniques in order to acquire sales. Just as with any industry, including the pharmaceutical industry (which is allowed to advertise pharmaceutical medications on television), consumers should be diligent and discerning. In fact, the cannabis industry remains more or less unregulated because it is a newer industry still in its development. Regulations are slowly being implemented, such as in California, where analyses of cannabinoids and contaminants must be provided. However, consumers should still exercise caution and refrain from purchasing products that don’t meet industry standards or are manufactured in substandard facilities.
CBD is absolutely not a scam, but there are “scam products” in the cannabis market that are labeled with “CBD”. Certain manufacturers put labels on CBD oil that do not indicate the true amount of CBD present, and this is misleading for customers. This should by no means deter people from CBD and its therapeutic potential.
3. Legalizing cannabis will lead to increased drug use, dependence and crime
Perhaps the biggest hurdle for the cannabis legalization movement to overcome has been the hypothesis that cannabis legalization will lead to increased drug use and marijuana dependence. At first, it is believable because even as a society, we have been led to believe that criminalization of drug use should lead to decreased drug use and crime. But when we really break this down, legal access does not mean increased drug use.
Colorado, which legalized cannabis for recreational and medical use in 2014, has watched the number of young cannabis users (aged 12-17) has continued to decrease since legalization. In fact, it is the lowest it has been since 2007/08. Adolescent use of cannabis also dropped in Washington after legalization.
Interestingly, FBI data from Colorado and Washington report greater police productivity after legalization. With less time spent on cannabis arrests, crime clearance rates (how long police spend trying to solve a crime) for violent and property crimes increased in these states. Police have literally become more productive, not having to waste crime-solving time on petty cannabis crimes.
It’s also worth pointing out Portugal’s drug legislation, which decriminalized personal drug possession almost 20 years ago. This essentially means that drug users are no longer considered criminals. Rather, in the event of, a person is offered treatment on demand or is simply left alone. Drug use is no longer considered a criminal matter but a medical one. The Portuguese policy does not decriminalize the sale of drugs, as distribution and manufacturing is still illegal activity.
One of the most notable impacts of decriminalization in Portugal is a drug-induced death rate over five times lower than the rest of Europe. Addressing the rate of opioid-induced death was one of the biggest incentives for Portugal’s leap of faith, and it demonstrates that criminalization actually fuels the war on drugs rather than overcoming it.
This rumor is completely and utterly exposed. Even the belief that criminalization is a way to manage the drug problem is deeply fallacious. It is not based on any real evidence that criminalization decreases crime. Now, thanks to decriminalization and legalization, we are able to observe the trends and the impacts of legalization.
The cannabis industry faces a lot of rumors, and we are coming out of a proverbial dark age of cannabis education. An incredible amount of misinformation occurred in the American population during prohibition, and it’s an immense task to undo these rumors. As the legalization movement continues, so too should re-education of the public.