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Debunking 7 Prohibitionist Myths that Just Won't Die

Anti-cannabis and prohibitionist myths are as antiquated as they are unfounded. Check out our latest article, where we debunk 7 of these most common myths.

Jason SanderJason Sander · Jan. 11, 2021 · 6 min read
Debunking 7 Prohibitionist Myths that Just Won't Die

Some age-old prohibitionist talking points have been used for far too long, even though they have been debunked countless times. Here, we debunk seven stubborn myths that prohibitionists and anti-cannabis crusaders continue to propagate.

1. Myth: Cannabis Makes You Stupid

Facts: No Scientific Evidence Supports This Myth

We debunked this antiquated myth in a June 2020 blog post, but it never fails that prohibitionists will continue to hammer this myth home. As voters in South Dakota were deciding whether to legalize cannabis - both for recreational and medical purposes during the 2020 election season, this “pot makes you dumb” myth reared its ugly head.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) was one of the most outspoken opponents of the ballot measure. She appeared in an ad from the No Way On Amendment A committee. The governor claimed that she heard from law enforcement officers as well as addiction counselors who favor the continued prohibition of cannabis. In a now-deleted Facebook video, the Governor outlined why she and other South Dakotans opposed the measure, namely because it changes the state’s constitution.

“The fact is, I’ve never met someone who got smarter from smoking pot,” the governor said.

Thankfully, the South Dakota-based prohibitionists didn’t get their wish, as voters decided to legalize both the recreational sale of cannabis and a medical program for the first time in the U.S. Prohibitionists like Governor Noem keep throwing out this myth, but science says otherwise.

In 2017, several institutions associated with the National Academy of Sciences published a study that was conducted for over ten years. The study tracked pairs of twins, and researchers observed the IQ scores on one twin that didn’t consume cannabis, while the other twin did. “Marijuana-using twins failed to show significantly greater IQ decline relative to their abstinent siblings,” the researchers concluded.

2. Myth: Cannabis is a Gateway Drug

Facts: The Majority of Cannabis Consumers Do Not Use Harder Substances

On their website, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that there is “more research needed to determine whether cannabis is a gateway drug.” As is the case with many prohibitionist myths, the CDC then contradicts itself by saying that “the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances.”

Another part of this myth is that cannabis leads to addiction, or that people can become cannabis addicts. This is just flat-out false. About nine percent of chronic cannabis consumers reportedly become psychologically dependent, according to a study from the National Institute of Health. However, this is a small minority of an even smaller group of people - those who are considered chronic, problematic users. Not to mention, this oft-cited study was conducted in 2007, and we now have more than 13 years of advancements in knowledge, technology, and so on.


Additionally, with more states legalizing cannabis, a qualifying condition for many medical programs is that of opioid addiction. In 2018, a survey conducted by the Harm Reduction Journal of Canada found that nearly 60 percent of people who responded substituted cannabis for opioids and eventually stopped taking opioids entirely. Alcohol consumption almost always decreases in states with legal cannabis, and it can help problematic drinkers quit booze completely or at least dial back their drinking to a healthy level.

3. Myth: Cannabis Lowers Sperm Count

Facts: The Exact Opposite Could Be True

This myth is less prevalent than the others on this list, but it’s still a ridiculous one nonetheless. One study published in the scientific journal Human Reproduction at Oxford Academic suggests the exact opposite - that males tested were more fertile if they consumed cannabis.

"These unexpected findings highlight how little we know about the reproductive health effects of marijuana, and in fact of the health effects of cannabis in general," said study co-author Jorge Chavarro in a press release.

Of course, the study doesn’t mean men should start consuming a lot of cannabis with the hopes of becoming more fertile. It’s important to remember, as all science-minded people should, that everything is relevant. The participants of the study likely have more impact on the result than cannabis. A Danish study in 2015 showed that cannabis consumers had a lower sperm count than non-consumers. Future studies like these should ask other, more critical questions than if the participants consume cannabis. For instance: are they healthy, what’s their diet like, and what about their genetics? These factors likely influence sperm count more than consuming cannabis does.

4. Myth: Cannabis Consumers Cause More Car Accidents While High

Facts: No Evidence Exists

The most famous anti-drug commercial is probably the one known as “ this is your brain on drugs.” This one was factual and effective. Since then, not so much. There were several “driving while high” videos put out by anti-drug groups over the years. Perhaps the most no more ridiculous was the one where a cannabis consumer exits a fast-food drive-through and runs over a little girl riding her bicycle.

A May 2019 study found no evidence that drivers whose blood samples tested positive for cannabis were more likely to cause traffic accidents. The study was published in the Canadian journal Addiction. No evidence exists that consuming cannabis is associated with a higher risk of vehicle crashes, and a message to that effect was conveyed in a June 2019 U.S. Congressional Research Service report.


What’s more, cannabis can stay in your system for a month or more - meaning that many drivers involved in accidents that test positive could have consumed a month ago. Also, a majority of the population consumes cannabis, so of course, it would show up in their systems. We certainly do not condone consuming cannabis and driving, flying, boating, or doing anything that could put you in danger of hurting someone else. But the fact remains, that these skewed statistics are affectedly used to justify the continuance of cannabis prohibition.

5. Myth: Cannabis Is Stronger Today than it Ever Was

Facts: Dosage is the Key Element

Another prevalent myth that prohibitionists use to argue against cannabis legalization is that cannabis is stronger today. Yes, THC levels in today’s cannabis are indeed higher than it was even 10 years ago. Selective breeding and genetic modification is a key element in agriculture and is important in the growth of many crops - not just cannabis. With legalization happening more, and technology advancing like better grow environments and better nutrients, of course, breeders and growers will be able to grow higher quality cannabis.

It is imperative to keep in mind that it’s the dose that is the key element. As the saying from Swiss physician and chemist Paracelsus goes: it’s the dose that makes the poison. Harm can only be caused if the concentration is high enough. The same is true for the THC level of cannabis. Today’s cannabis consumers need less to achieve the same effect as consumers of yesteryear. For instance, products like dabs weren’t available ten years or so ago, so of course, concentrated cannabis is stronger than flower. Cannabis consumers must know their limits, and take the proper steps to sober up after consuming too much.

6. Myth: States with Cannabis Legalization Have Higher Crime Rates

Facts: Again, No Evidence Exists, And the Opposite is True

In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and infamous anti-cannabis crusader claimed that communities were seeing “real violence” in states with legal cannabis. Researchers analyzed data from a collection of studies to find that violent crime decreases in states with legal cannabis. Since California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis, violent and property crime has decreased by 20% dating back to 1996, studies show.

7. Myth: Cannabis Makes You Lazy

Facts: Tell That to These People

If cannabis makes us lazy, someone forgot to tell some of the most successful and ambitious people in the world. Just some of these include more than 50 political leaders, uber-successful CEOs and content creators like Elon Musk and Joe Rogan, gold-medal-winning Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps, and groundbreakingly influential scientists like the late great Carl Sagan.

HashDash - Education for Today’s Conscious Cannabis Consumer

We hope you found value in our content debunking prohibitionist myths. Be sure to check back to our blog often, because we post fresh content every week! We’ve got a ton of awesome cannabis-related content planned for 2021, and that’s not even to mention launching our matching platform. Connect with us on social media: @hashdash.com on all platforms.

Here at HashDash, we are compiling an entire information database that will continue to answer your questions regarding all things cannabis, as well as where to find the best dispensaries in your area. Be sure to sign up for HashDash if you haven’t already to discover your cannabis matches. As always, thanks for reading, and happy consuming!

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.




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