Cannabis class is in session. Although the drug has been around (and used) for a long time, there are still myths that surround marijuana and all it can do. Here to teach us a lesson is Tammy Pettigrew (she/her), cannabis educator and advocate known as The Cannabis Cutie. The entrepreneur is all about facts over fiction, especially when it comes to enlightening others on her podcast Lasagna Ganja, where she and her co-host explore everything from cannabis’s history and culture to the latest industry trends and scientific breakthroughs. Now, let’s learn our ABCs CBDs. 🍃

Myth #1: Marijuana has no medical benefits.
No. Our bodies have a lock and key system with the cannabis plant. Basically, the plant chemicals are keys and the stress, pain, discomforts, etc., are what closes the locks. When you insert the key into the lock, it opens the lock back up and helps with relief of these uncomfortable feelings. That’s why this plant can help with so many different ailments. I can see why it sounds like snake oil, but the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is truly remarkable, and is still a fairly new scientific discovery. Your body also makes its own version of THC under duress called anandamide and it’s pretty cool!

Myth #2: Smoking weed is as harmful as smoking tobacco.
UCLA has debunked this a few times and again with the latest study concluding in 2023. The findings stated “neither former nor current marijuana smoking of any lifetime amount was associated with evidence of COPD progression or its development.” Another reason that cannabis doesn’t carry the same risks as smoking tobacco is due to how tobacco grows. Tobacco is grown with a fertilizer that contains radioactive materials which is extremely harmful when ingested or inhaled. Cannabis has also been proven to be a bronchodilator, which means it opens up airways.

Myth #3: Cannabis use leads to lung cancer.
Actually, the cannabis plant has hundreds of chemicals and some of them are anti-tumoral and great at fighting cancer cells, including lung cancer. The chemical best to help with lung cancer is called CBD, and it induces cell death with lung cancer cells and cancer stem cells.

Myth #4: Weed is addictive/a gateway drug.
Nope. Evidence has shown that alcohol is the gateway drug and cannabis has been proven to be an exit drug, especially from alcohol and opioids. That’s not to say cannabis can’t be abused because it absolutely can! It’s important as a user of this plant that you’re constantly checking your habits and intention around your consumption so that you impart positive benefits.

Myth #5: Marijuana use causes long-term memory loss.
No, quite the opposite in fact. Cannabis is a neuroprotectant and if you’re skeptical of this, the federal government filed a patent (that’s now expired) for a cannabis chemical as a brain protectant and antioxidant. Meanwhile, Italy found out about a chemical in the cannabis plant that can help with neurogenesis, or regenerating damaged brain cells. (That’s huge!) Now, short-term memory loss while consuming—that’s a thing!

Myth #6: All forms of cannabis have the same effect.
Cannabis is kind of like wine in this sense. Some cannabis cultivars, also known as strains, have distinct smells. Some smell like candy, others like gasoline, and there’s a whole category of orange and citrusy-smelling strains and ones that smell really piney/earthy. These smells are from a chemical group called terpenes and these terpenes influence how you’re going to feel. It’s very important to find out what smells work best for you as an individual. I prefer gasoline and sweet-smelling cannabis, and I say no to citrus-smelling strains. It induces the worst anxiety sometimes and other times it’s an immediate headache. Smell what you’re about to consume and watch how your body reacts. The nose knows!

Myth #7: You can only smoke cannabis.
There are so many types of ingestion methods! You can eat it, apply it topically, wear it in a patch, soak in a bath with it, or even make a nice mocktail. You can also grow cannabis for its plant fibers to make thousands of products. This type of cannabis was actually used as a form of currency in the 1600s in the Virginia Colonies, and today you can buy or build a house made completely from cannabis that’s super sustainable.

Myth #8: Weed cures anxiety.
Not true. It can even make your anxiety worse at times if you’re not careful. Your set and setting matter so much when it comes to using this plant. If your consumption or possession is illegal, that doesn’t help at all, nor does hiding your use. Make sure you’re safe, in a familiar setting with people you trust, and have a plan if you start to feel uncomfortable. Cannabis can absolutely help with feelings of anxiety, as long as you’re applying intentional use. I like to pair other practices with my cannabis use to help with my anxiety like journaling, meditating, breath work, yoga, walks, hiking, going into nature, etc. Lastly, if all else fails, therapy!