By Alec Rigg, Sanctuary Dispensaries. Las Vegas, NV.
Over the last 10 years, cannabis has received exponentially more coverage not just for legalization, but also further research about its medicinal effects. While there are people who stay away from substances all together, some might have the wrong impression if they were told that cannabis only has negative effects. Cannabis is most commonly used to treat anxiety and several chronic pains, despite misinformation about its dangers. At the same time, cancer awareness is at an all-time high and companies like Sanctuary Dispensaries are bridging the gap between the two to show how cannabis could be the future of medicine.
So, before your next smoke sesh, check out these debunked cannabis myths to know that you are being safe:
- CANNABIS IS NOT A GATEWAY DRUG: While there are a handful of users who have or had a pre-set idea to try illegal drugs, this was not caused by cannabis. The ‘gateway drug’ rumor was a logical fallacy by people who assumed that someone just smoking cannabis, but is otherwise clean, would end up doing coke or heroin because they’re all lumped into the umbrella term drugs. This kind of notion is especially harmful as it could continue to turn people away from medicinal cannabis, thinking their health and well-being would be at risk. Turns out, the number of cannabis users who go on to try illegal drugs is actually so low that it more accurately defines cannabis as a ‘terminus drug’ that turns people away from other substances.
- MEMES COME TRUE: You’ve probably seen the memes of “when you take more edibles ‘cause they didn’t ‘kick in’ then they hit you all at once.” It has been used as a joke, but it’s actually true; delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that has been baked (pun intended) or combined with a food or drink is poorly absorbed when consumed, so it could take hours for your body to process. This is why patients are typically prescribed pre-rolls or cannabis flower to be smoked or vaped as opposed to something like edibles, and also why smoking or vaping is the most popular form of consumption (not just for the looks). Inhaled THC goes through your nose and mouth to hit the brain quicker, but you also ‘come down’ faster smoking flower than you would off an edible. In short, take one and just wait for it!
- SLOWING THE SPREAD: Quoted from our friends at the American Cancer Society, cannabinoids including THC have been shown to slow the growth or even cause death in certain types of cancer.
- NO PAIN, GAIN?: It’s been well-documented that THC is beneficial for pain management, especially in cancer chemotherapy.  Similarly, cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to reduce seizures in children with underlying disorders. Sounds pretty good, right? Not to everyone. Around 22% of people who have used cannabis say they don’t like the ‘high,’ mainly from factors unrelated to the product itself. For some, high is euphoric; for others, unsettling. However, CBD products contain little to no THC, which causes the high, making them safe for those who do not want the intoxicating effect. Basically, it’s a way to avoid inebriation while still enjoying the benefits of cannabis.
- HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? “Overdosing” or just mass, inhuman quantities of anything will kill you, even if it’s good for you—food, water, sunlight, medicine—but does that apply to cannabis? The answer: not really. Keep in mind: Cannabis over-intoxication can result in anxiety, paranoia, loss of coordination, or low or high blood pressure. So, just like drinking, be responsible and know your limits.
- CANNABIS WON’T KILL BRAIN CELLS: While there aren’t many full-on clinical trials linking cannabis and brain development, cannabis has never been directly and solely linked to brain damage, even in heavy users. Potentially impaired judgement and short-term memory loss  are among the commonly cited side effects, neither of which permanently alter brain cells. Conversely, however, one study reported that short-term memory was generally unaffected.  What’s more, one study even reported that a chronic low dose of THC restored cognitive function in old mice!  Note that it can take heavy users 6-12 weeks of abstinence to fight off short-term memory problems, so again, be responsible.
- CANNABIS (THEORETICALLY) AGAINST TUMORS: Again, there are not enough clinical trials to give a solid answer but early research did show a reduction in tumor development and a drop in cancer metastasis. In the late 2000s, mice were injected with human glioma cells, which grow into tumors, but they stopped growing in two subjects after THC was administered.  Granted, these were animal trials with not a lot of variables, but the precedent is there to show that it can be the outcome. In a 2010 study, researchers demonstrated synergy between THC and cannabidiol (CBD) for inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and causing cell death via oxidative stress. 
To conclude, while further trials would better elucidate the effects of cannabis on cancer, it is currently known to treat anorexia, anxiety, chronic pain, and rare types of cancers, among other conditions.  In addition, cannabis contains fewer of the lung-damaging particles in tobacco smoke.  Cannabis can even be consumed in the form of edibles, leaving no lung damage at all, is very difficult to overdose on, and certain products offer medicinal benefits without unwanted inebriation such as CBD-dominant formulations. It is not a ‘gateway drug’ nor a widespread cancer treatment as of yet, but furthering the study of cancer and cannabis could very well lead to more medical innovations.
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