Is cannabis a gateway drug to stronger, more dangerous drugs? Is it addictive? Does it affect your brain? It can be difficult to separate the cannabis facts from the myths, particularly because the plant has had a rocky history in the U.S. since it was first cultivated and introduced for recreational purposes in the early 1900s.
However, as legal barriers against medical and recreational cannabis use have been overcome state-by-state over the last decade, consumers are hungry for reliable information. In this infographic, we’ve taken eight of the most common myths about cannabis use and fact-checked them against credible resources.
1. Who uses cannabis?
Pop culture would have us believe that cannabis consumers are grungy, jobless, high-school dropouts. Research tells us otherwise. One study found that among adults age 26 and older, high school dropouts were the least likely to have ever even tried cannabis; adults with some college or bachelor degrees were most likely to have tried it.
2. Is cannabis a gateway drug?
Cannabis is often thrown under the bus as the ground-zero drug that leads people to experiment with and become addicted to both prescription drugs and illicit drugs. The truth is, a number of factors affect addiction, including genetics, psychological dispositions and environmental influences. What you’ll find in the infographic below is research that shows how cannabis is actually used to treat people who suffer from addiction to powerful substances such as opioids.
3. Is marijuana addictive?
Research suggests that cannabis is less addictive than other substances such as nicotine (one of the most addictive), heroin, cocaine and alcohol.
4. Is cannabis stronger today than it was in the 60s and 70s?
The strength of cannabis depends on its THC to CBD ratio, as well as your own biological makeup. See the chart below for the ratio of CBD:THC and the types of effects each typically will produce.
5. Do sativas pick you up while indicas bring you down?
The short answer is, “it depends.” The effects of cannabis strains or cultivars depends on a number of factors, including your own biology, how much you consume, the ratio of CBD to THC in each plant, and the method you use to consume it. There is no scientific evidence that supports the myth that indicas have a sedative effect and sativas an uplifting effect.
The best way to determine how a plant is going to affect you is to try it out at small amounts, observe the effects, and then adjust how much you consume.
6. Does cannabis fry your brain?
The images in the infographic below show one study that found no difference between brains that use cannabis daily and brains that do not.
7. Will cannabis make me infertile?
A few years ago, a study was published that found that borderline infertile men who smoked cannabis became infertile. However, the men in the study were borderline infertile because of genetic and environmental factors.
The research in our infographic suggests quite the opposite of this myth: Cannabis users tend to have a higher concentration of sperm.
8. Is legalized cannabis more expensive?
The last section of this infographic compares the average price of an ounce of cannabis in Canada with the U.S. and shows that in Canada, where cannabis is legal, it costs less than in the United States. The bottom line is, we found no evidence to suggest that once cannabis is legalized that prices increase.
Myths vs. Facts About Cannabis
The infographic below offers more details on the facts about marijuana.
If you have questions about other cannabis myths that we haven’t answered here, explore our resource center. For updated or to become a Happy Valley Insider, enter your email address in the Stay Connected field at the bottom of the page.