At Cream of the Crop, we do more than produce some of the finest cannabis products on the planet; we are also leading the industry with grounded, evidence-based thought leadership. To this end, we now bring your attention to five cannabis myths that we will promptly blaze, right before your eyes...
Myth: Legalizing cannabis will lead to more motor vehicle accidents.
The Blaze: For the sake of responsible use, it’s best to avoid driving while high. However, recent research shows that three years after recreational cannabis legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational cannabis legalization. Other research shows that, in California, decriminalizing cannabis did not impact rates of “drugged driving with marijuana.”
There is some research showing that drivers that use cannabis are at an increased risk of being involved in motor vehicle crashes. However, as we have pointed out, it is very difficult to show that cannabis alone is to blame for any actual increased risk. It could be that people more prone to risky driving behavior also happen to be more likely to be cannabis users. That said, we still recommend avoiding any driving if you have recently used cannabis.
Myth: Using cannabis has long-term negative effects on your brain.
The Blaze: A meta-analysis found no evidence for long-term negative effects of cannabis use on the brain, including attention, memory, learning, and reaction time. The researchers found some negative effects within the first 25 days of people stopping their cannabis use, but these may have been due to withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, MRI research has found that, compared to nonusers, older adult cannabis users did not differ in important indicators of brain health, including total cerebrospinal fluid, gray matter, white matter, and cognitive performance.
In fact, research is now emerging that cannabis can actually have a medicinal effect on brain health. One study found that a low dose of THC restored cognitive function in old mice. Other research investigating the role of the medicinally-promising cannabinoid CBD found that it may protect against brain damage due to injury or stroke.
However, there are some important caveats to consider. First, cannabis DOES seem to impact the brains of people who start using at a young age. New research shows that 10th grade cannabis users, even those that only used once or twice, had less grey brain matter volume than 10th graders who had never used. Overall, it is best to wait until the legal age of 21 before using cannabis.
Myth: Legalizing cannabis will lead to more people missing work.
The Blaze: In fact, the opposite happened! A study of about 60,000 U.S. households found that after cannabis legalization, there were less workplace absences due to sickness, especially in states that made it especially easy to access cannabis. And it goes further: another workplace study found that people were no more likely to test positive for cannabis during a post-accident test, compared to a random one. Indeed, employers need to really start wondering if drug testing for cannabis is nothing more than a waste of time and money.
Myth: CBD helps you sleep.
The Blaze: Thinking of using a CBD product to get you ready to sleep? Try the opposite! Research shows that CBD makes you alert, interrupts stage 3 sleep, and can even counteract the sedative effect of THC! However, it’s understandable that CBD has gotten this reputation; it has been found to be effective in treating anxiety, so perhaps people naturally assume that it has a sleep-inducing effect.
Myth: Cannabis is a gateway drug.
The Blaze: Researchers now generally agree that cannabis use does not lead to using “harder” drugs — at least, no more so than nicotine or alcohol! In fact, recent research has shown that cannabis enhances the effects of opioids, making people less likely to take a higher opioid dose than they actually need. In fact research has shown just the opposite: one survey of nearly 300 cannabis users found that they were using cannabis as a replacement for prescription drugs (especially opioids), benzodiazepines (e.g., valium), antidepressants, alcohol, cigarettes/tobacco, and even other illicit drugs.
Well, we have dismantled five commonly-cited but woefully erroneous cannabis claims — probably enough for one day. Stay tuned for the next installment of Mythblazers, because there is no shortage of myths for us to blaze!