We know that there are persistent myths about cannabis among opponents of reform, from the gateway drug theory to demotivational syndrome. But there are also myths among cannabis smokers.
1. Natural is better than synthetic
Many people who smoke cannabis feel superior to the users of other drugs, especially of synthetic drugs. “I only smoke natural man, no synthetic shit enters my body,” they say. That sounds great – only if you don’t know the real risks and harms of drugs, which have nothing to do with how the drug is produced. There are very natural plants that are so toxic that they can easily kill you. And there are synthetic drugs produced in laboratories with relatively low risks, if used appropriately, such as MDMA.
2. Decriminalisation is enough
There are people who smoke pot but don’t support legalisation. They think that it is enough to decriminalise the possession and cultivation of drugs for personal use; that this will solve everything. I don’t agree with this position. First of all, if you only decriminalise drug use the harms caused by the illicit drug market will stay. Organised crime, violence, mass incarceration, and all the uncertainties of the black market. People do not only deserve not to be punished because of what they put into their bodies – they deserve to access legal, taxed, quality-controlled products. Of course we can have a civilised debate about how drugs should be regulated – but regulation itself is a must.
3. Cannabis cures cancer
Just because you saw a Youtube video with someone talking about his/her miraculous cure from cancer with the help of cannabis oil, it doesn’t prove that cannabis cures cancer. Yes, according to preclinical research (that is performed on lab mice and rats), cannabis has promising potential to reverse some forms of cancer. But it is far from being a universal cure for all forms of cancer. As Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen argues, it is especially dangerous to persuade people to avoid proven therapies and use cannabis instead. What we hate in the war on drugs is that it is not based on human rights and scientific evidence. Let us also keep to the evidence when it comes to medical marijuana!
4. Soros wants Monsanto to control cannabis
According to some conspiracy theorists American philanthropist George Soros is funding cannabis legalisation efforts because he wants to make profit from investing in Monsanto’s genetically modified weed. This is a hoax, widely spread even among pro-cannabis folks, and was smashed to pieces by Chris Conrad, a recognised expert in cannabis cultivation and use. There is absolutely no evidence that supports these allegations. But conspiracy theories are like zombies: you can kill them as many times you want but they still move.
5. We have to legalise pot because it’s not harmful
When alcohol prohibition was ended in 1933 it was not done because people realised that alcohol is harmless and “it will save the planet”. They had had enough of the black market controlled by violent criminal gangs and wanted to create a regulated legal market, addressing the real harms of alcohol with social and public health policies instead of punishment. It’s not so different with cannabis. It obviously has fewer harms than alcohol but that doesn’t make it harmless. If you are a cannabis patient it may be even beneficial for you to smoke pot and occasional recreational pot smoking for most adults is not particularly harmful. But don’t forget the young, the marginalised, the vulnerable people for whom pot smoking can be problematic. While most people don’t become dependent on cannabis, a sizeable minority do.