Despite expanding legislation and a cultural shift towards acceptance, misconceptions about cannabis, its effects and the people who take it still persist. Stigmas and myths are problematic not only because they spread inaccurate or incomplete information, but also because they fuel misguided arguments in support of continued prohibition. Reefer Madness does more harm than good, so here we dig into 3 of the most common misconceptions.

Cannabis has no medicinal value.

The Federal government defines cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug, which by definition means it is viewed as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”. This designation places cannabis in the same category as heroin, while drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone are included among the legal, less dangerous drugs assigned to Schedule II. Yet there is substantial clinical research contradicting this, and a growing number of health organizations are voicing their support for patient access to medical cannabis.

But bear in mind…

Beware of questionable sources claiming cannabis as a cure for cancer and other diseases. While cannabis may help ease the symptoms of these illnesses and some patients see dramatic improvements as a result of taking it, more research must be done before cannabis can be officially labeled a cure.

Cannabis is a gateway drug.

The idea that cannabis inevitably leads to the use of harder drugs is at the heart of the “gateway drug” theory. But there is no clear evidence that smoking a joint automatically leads to the use of heroin or cocaine. In fact, Dr. Denise Kandel, the medical sociologist and Columbia University professor who coined the phrase in a research paper 40 years ago actually found nicotine to be the gateway drug, not cannabis. Not only that, studies like this one reveal that states with legal cannabis are experiencing a reduction in opioid deaths, suggesting cannabis may actually be an exit drug.

But bear in mind…

Cannabis contains many different chemical compounds, so it’s important to be aware of how cannabis might interact with and even effect the potency of other drugs, including prescription medications and alcohol.

People who take cannabis are unmotivated and lazy.

Side effects of taking cannabis can include lack of motivation, but there is no definitive evidence that cannabis causes laziness – or for that matter, productivity – in the long term. This misconception disregards strain variations and the fact that everyone reacts to cannabis differently, while placing a value judgment on what it means to be “high”. The reality is that while some people may choose to take cannabis and do nothing all day, others power through to-do lists, manage their businesses successfully and take care of their families without a problem.

But bear in mind…

Some people develop a dependence on cannabis even though it is generally considered non-addictive. In such instances, an individual’s cannabis use disrupts their ability to manage the more important aspects of their lives, and it may be necessary for them to seek treatment.

Cannabis is legal in more than half of the country, yet these and other misconceptions continue to fuel prohibition efforts. But knowledge is power – whether you personally take cannabis or not, do your own research and learn the facts.

Kaisha is a content writer specializing in the cannabis industry. Judging by her social media, she’s super into cats and Jeff Goldblum.