Despite the legalization of medicinal cannabis in many countries across Europe, the US, and Canada, talking about cannabis is still a taboo for many people, and that makes it a subject riddled with misconceptions and mistakes.
Misinformation is one of the most challenging issues surrounding cannabis education. Here at Manupo, it’s our mission to help you better understand this topic. Therefore, we have compiled a list of the top 3 misconceptions surrounding cannabis that persist to this day.
#1: Not all cannabis plants are the same
When hearing about ‘cannabis’, people tend to imagine that plant with funny-looking leaves that you can smoke and then get high. For most people, ‘marijuana’ is a dangerous drug, ‘hemp’ is the ‘good’ marijuana that you can make paper of, and cannabis is… well… nobody knows really.
Actually, cannabis is the name of a whole family of plants, which comprises different species (plants of the same family but with slightly different features). Marijuana and hemp are the names we usually give to cannabis plants with certain characteristics. These terms are mostly used in legal contexts, where these characteristics are important to distinguish between what is allowed and what isn’t.
‘Marijuana’ is the term that is most widely used to describe psychoactive forms of cannabis (plants that have psychoactive effects on humans, usually known as “getting high”) and is illegal in most countries, while ‘hemp’ is the term used for cannabis plants that aren’t psychoactive and is legal and produced in many countries. This distinction is also sometimes made based on the THC content of each plant (THC above 0.3% is found in marijuana plants, while less than 0.3% is found in hemp), but there are other features that distinguish these two plants.
Also, due to its historical use, the term ‘marijuana’ is considered by many as racist and it carries an inherently negative correlation with drug abuse and illegal immigrants in the US. For that reason, many experts defend that this term shouldn’t exist, and that ‘cannabis’ and ‘hemp’ are enough to distinguish between different species of the plant. Nonetheless, it’s important to know that these plants all belong to the cannabis genus.
#2: Not every form of cannabis will get you high
A direct result from the first misconception, this is the second most common one.
Many people believe that using cannabis, regardless of the form or delivery method, will get them high. This, of course, is not true. As we’ve seen in #1, not all cannabis plants have psychoactive effects on the human brain. Tetrahydrocannabinol, most widely known as THC, is the chemical compound thought to be responsible by the psychoactive effects people usually experiment while using cannabis. However, these psychoactive effects are usually only experienced if the THC content exceeds a certain limit. For that reason, cannabis hemp varieties are legal in many countries because their THC content is below 0.3%, and therefore can yield beneficial medicinal effects without inducing psychoactive effects. Psychoactive cannabis varieties (sometimes referred to as ‘marijuana’), on the other hand, contain more than 0.3% THC and up to 30% of it.
In short, cannabis varieties with high THC content will probably get someone high, but cannabis varieties with very low THC content (such as hemp) usually don’t yield any psychoactive effects and can be safely used for medicinal purposes (and that is why they are now legal in many countries).
#3: Not every form of cannabis is medicinal
Much like the thought that every cannabis plant or cannabis-derived product is bad for you and will get you high, the thought that every cannabis plant or cannabis-derived product is good for you and can be used as medicine is also not true.
Medicinal cannabis is usually hemp-derived since it has a low THC content and high CBD content (CBD has many documented health benefits, and experts also believe it can counter the effects of THC). Plants with high THC content may be dangerous, due to its psychoactive and sometimes addictive effects.
Moreover, that still doesn’t mean all hemp is medicinal. Hemp plants can be grown for a very wide variety of purposes. Industrial hemp, used to make paper, clothing, fuel, and others, although it contains CBD and low amounts of THC, may not suitable for medicinal use, depending on the chemicals that are used on the crops. Hemp cultivated for medicinal purposes needs to be carefully monitored and cared for, and it’s best for your health if no pesticides, heavy metals or other chemicals are used during its cultivation. For these reasons, you should do some research and carefully consider the sources of your medicinal products before using them.
Although there are many more misconceptions regarding cannabis, these 3 are among the most common ones and need to be clarified so that everyone can benefit from the medicinal power of cannabis without putting themselves or others at risk.