As Cannabis makes it's debut around the country there has been massive amounts of information infecting the internet. Some of it is true, some of it is false. How are new cannabis users able to decipher all of this information? A myth is defined as: "A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events." The key word to focus on here is "story." Marijuana has been around for centuries and throughout those hundreds or even thousands of years users have been creating stories to demonstrate the value of the plant. While some myths have been debunked and others just remain as mystical stories and experiences there is a very big difference between a myth and lies. Lies form from agendas. Lies are intentional as myths sometimes defy concrete evidence due to imaginative speculation and individual experiences. Due to the nature of myths, they lack deceit because they are simply stories being told, where as a lie is used as persuasion to get you to believe one side of an argument or another without adhering to accurate and relevant scientific data.
The article "Is marijuana linked to psychosis, schizophrenia? It's contentious, but doctors, feds say yes" is a perfect example to distinguish lies about marijuana from the myths. To some credit, this article makes no concrete conclusions about cannabis but it's word choices are used to persuade or even warn new cannabis users of the perceived dangers of cannabis use. Some people claim that cannabis is an end-all-be-all solution to everything and that is just as much of a lie as what we are pointing out here. Patients need accurate information if they are going to get all of the benefits from cannabis use. Cannabis use comes with pros and cons like everything else in life. Cannabis patients should accurately weigh out the pros and cons before implementing a treatment plan. Cannabis isn't the holy grail of medicine, but it also isn't a dangerous drug that makes users "lose their mind." This article is the epitome of misleading and persuasive information is used to negatively stigmatize cannabis use. We need to understand how to truly decipher all this information surrounding cannabis and be able to filter fact from fiction. So let's take a look at how you might be able to spot some of the inaccurate information surrounding cannabis use.
First, the writer might tell a story that somebody else experienced. This is similar to a myth because they are actually telling a story of an individual's experience but they are using that as bait to later persuade the reader of something that is not currently backed by science. This is what makes it a lie.
In the first three paragraphs of the article from USA Today you learn about a 24 year old who had a negative experience using marijuana and even after a visit to the doctor, no concrete conclusions could be made until the individual remains symptom free and off cannabis for one year. So this one case study is inconclusive for the next year, and it's already being written to induce fear to new cannabis users. They caution cannabis patients to beware of developing psychosis and schizophrenia and that caution can lead patients away from their best treatment option.
The article even states "There is great disagreement over the strength of the science linking pot and psychosis." The article does point out the flaws in analyzing the data that has been collected and even references Reefer Madness in attempts to pull their article away from being lumped in with such nonsense. However, the next heading in the article reads "Marijuana Killed My Soul," which is the same manipulation tactics used in Reefer Madness.
This leads me to believe that the article is still trying to convince readers of the imminent dangers of marijuana. The article states: "Zorn was diagnosed with 'severe cannabis use disorder,' bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder with auditory hallucinations, paranoia and anxiety. " Every reader should beware of anecdotal evidence like this. It has long been known that patients with multiple psychological disorders should not partake in cannabis treatment because it is not a therapeutic solution to these conditions. The article also points out that Zorn wrote in his suicide note that marijuana killed his soul and his brain. As unfortunate of a situation as Zorn's story is, marijuana contains a psychoactive component that is not recommended to patients with certain psychological disorders. This is important because readers should understand what led to this particular patient's negative experience with cannabis use.
and even certain psychological disorders like PTSD. Cannabis is an extremely beneficial treatment option for so many people across the globe. While the industry should be held liable for misinformation regarding the over-exaggerated benefits of cannabis, we need to hold news sources liable for spreading misleading and inaccurate information regarding cannabis.
Cannabis has undergone enough scrutiny over the past eighty-some years and good people have been put behind bars trying to expose the true nature of the cannabis plant. We need to be realistic with the benefits and drawbacks of cannabis use, but we should allow cannabis to take the stage and present itself for what it really is: medicine. Not everyone should take every kind of medicine just because they have a condition. You don't see doctors prescribing Zoloft for a sprained ankle. It's not compatible medicine and the same is true with cannabis. It doesn't treat everything, but it does treat a lot. It's time we recognized that and showed our appreciation by giving cannabis a realistic representation in the public eye.