Twenty 4:20 | #7 Urban Myths About Cannabis

After nearly 100 years of prohibition and propaganda, there’s a lot of bad information still circulating about cannabis. Scientists are making discoveries almost daily, but public knowledge of the plant still lags. Cannabis writer Curt Robbins examines some of the biggest myths about cannabis in episode 7 of Twenty 4:20.

(00:02): Welcome to Twenty 4:20, the bite sized educational podcast from Tom at Kannaboomers and Curt Robbins, author of more than 500 articles about the science of hemp and cannabis. We're giving 20 cannabis topics 20 minutes each to help you get smarter about terpenes cannabinoids, cultivars, and much, much more. And our show starts now.

Kannaboomers (00:29): Okay. It's Tom. We're back with Twenty 4:20, our ongoing series with Curt Robbins. How are you doing Curt?

Curt Robbins (00:34): I'm doing well, Tom. It's pandemic and everybody's in a different mode, but we're hanging in there. How about you?

Kannaboomers (00:41): Yeah, still hunkered down. I'm getting out for a walk with a bandana around my face when I can, but yeah, this, this too shall pass. We did our previous episode on COVID 19, the coronavirus and the kind of the misinformation around that. And you brought up a great point. There's a lot of misinformation about cannabis out there.

Curt Robbins (01:01): Right? Just a, that episode reminded me that a claims that a CBD or any other molecule produced by hamper cannabis acts as a preventative agent, you know, that it, quote unquote prevents or quote unquote cures coronavirus in on, I, I recommend listeners who haven't heard that previous podcast to check it out. That's what we deep dived on during that one. That's all we talked about. But this is true for many other conditions, quite honestly like, like cancer and, and others. And you know, I, I understand that these people are sick and in a desperate position and often, you know, the healthcare system is not the resource they wish it was. So almost out of desperation they go looking for something to help them. And there's definitely a lot of help on hemp and cannabis, but we just have to be extremely careful. We're not using terms like prevent and cure because they have meaning.

Kannaboomers (01:56): Well, and as you and I have both mentioned previously, we're coming out of almost a hundred years of propaganda where there was just bad information. This is a demon weed and it can cause all kinds of problems in the road to ruin... The pendulum swung back and maybe it's swung a little too far because people are willing to ascribe all sorts of miracle attributes that may or may not be true. So it's time for some real clear scientific thinking.

Curt Robbins (02:22): Right, right, exactly. I mean I believe that there can be spiritual and emotional and psychological wellness benefits from this plant. But those are often like religious experiences, extremely subjective and just unfortunately cannot be generalized to the entire public.

Kannaboomers (02:43): Also true. I keep hearing the people I'm interviewing saying we're not even sure how many cannabinoids there are. I just read about a new one the other day. I've heard that from a few people I've interviewed where the ongoing research is repressed for so long and now it's opened and there's just new discoveries happening all the time about terpenes, cannabinoids and other compounds.

Curt Robbins (03:05): We discovered two new cannabinoids and put a link in the show notes. An Italian research team published a paper on December 30th, 2019 that identified not only to a unique new cannabinoids, THC-P and CBD-P, but it also discovered that P series, and you know, I won't dive into it right here, but also I've got an article I wrote about the research study. And it goes back to misinformation cause there were some major magazines like High Times and some others, some that even had the word science in their name. And they were misinterpreting the study results, like grossly, like they just slapped it together and mailed it in. So yeah, there's misinformation even coming from some arguably reputable sources.

Kannaboomers (03:53): That's the beauty of a free discourse of ideas. It's the marketplace and you put it all out there and eventually the truth rises to the top, I guess is theory, right? Sometimes one who has the biggest PR budget sometimes. So, anyway, that's our focus. And you've identified several of the major urban legends, kind of like the bigfoot of the, the bigfeet of the cannabis world. Right? And so what's your first one?

Curt Robbins (04:23): Let's talk about runner's high for years, basically since the 80s when, you know, running became extremely popular as, as a hobby and, and for exercise in the seventies and eighties and it, you can still find articles right now, go Google runner's high and you'll find scientists and doctors and articles that attribute the runner's high phenomenon to endorphin or endorphins as they're popularly called. And endorphin is a hormone that's produced by the pituitary gland and it is kind of an internal opioid. It's a painkiller. Okay. Plain, plain and simple. So it makes sense if you're going out and running a marathon and you're really testing your body and there's a pain involved that our body tries to deal with that pain with these endorphins. But here's what we learned since the 80s, is that it turns out the endorphin molecules cannot produce the, there's basically low level and sometimes not low level psychoactivity involved in this runner's high. It's why we use the word high, right? It's kind of a bliss state. Well, it turns out the endorphin molecule is not allowed to cross the blood brain barrier to get into the brain. And here's the catch to have a psychotropic or psychoactive response there. These molecules, like we thought it was endorphin and it's not have to plug into CB one receptors in the brain and central nervous system in order to have that psychotropic effect. The endorphin molecules are just way too big and for other reasons. See the blood brain barrier is extremely selective. It's like a list or party in LA, right? It only lets certain people in, well, it turns out that despite this selectivity that it's an internal cannabinoid, an endocannabinoid, we call them from our bodies, they're called endocannabinoids. And if they come from a plant like hemp or cannabis, then we call them phytocannabinoids, phyto for plant-based, and we produce two of these endocannabinoids called 2AG and anandamide, and that's a real famous one. It's been dubbed the bliss molecule. Well, it turns out those endocannabinoids are allowed to cross the blood brain barrier, plug into the CB one receptors. And are the reason for this runner's high. It's not endorphins.

Kannaboomers (06:49): That is super interesting because I was among those guys chasing that and to me it was a reliable euphoria. You know, I was never tripping, but I would reach a state where a kind of a steady state where there was no perceived exertion. I was just moving through my environment and you know, I wasn't slow, I was going pretty fast, but I didn't have the, the pain that you can have when you're running until you get yourself in physical shape. So it was an analgesic maybe you know, I was never really hallucinating or anything, but I felt fine. I knew this was a reliable euphoria that I could reach. And to know now that it's related to the endogenous cannabinoid system is very interesting because you know, Runner's World and everybody told us, 'Oh it's the endorphins. Go chase your endorphins.'

Curt Robbins (07:34): Yeah, exactly. Now, you know, at one level, regardless, is it endorphin, is it anandamide? At one level it doesn't matter cause it's our body's producing molecules and they're wellness molecules, they help us in times of stress. And you know, when you're out there running 25 miles, there's some of these crazy ultra marathoners run like 200 miles. So a, you know, you've got to think of the response that their body has to that and trying to make sure that, you know, they don't fall over dead.

Kannaboomers (08:00): Yeah. Yeah. I was never that extreme, but I did probably a dozen marathons, so I did my share of 20 milers.

Curt Robbins (08:06): Yeah. You probably got way into that runner's high zone. Some athletes, you know, report a very pronounced state of bliss or being high. And those that have consumed cannabis containing THC have said that sometimes it's very similar.

Kannaboomers (08:23): Very interesting. Your next one was about memory loss.

Curt Robbins (08:27): Yeah. This was, you know, during the DARE program of the last few decades. It was only recently within the last couple of years that DARE dropped cannabis, you know, enough states had gone legal with it that they kinda made the right decision there. But you know, for decades, I don't know if you remember growing up commercials and, and other government propaganda that said it'll kill your brain cells. Right. And this is one reason I didn't become a regular consumer in high school actually I started consuming at the age of 14, but it was really for the next several years. That's only when people offered it to me. And the reason was, you know, I knew that I was destined to not you know, do physical labor that I was going to be a what are sometimes called a knowledge worker. And I thought, 'holy shit, if it kills brain cells,' it was really very intimidating to me. Right? And I think it was smart PR on the government propagandists you know, and they deserve credit because it is very intimidating to think that we're going to, you know, squelch our IQ.

Kannaboomers (09:26): I read something recently that as you age, THC can actually help your memory.

Curt Robbins (09:31): I believe that's true. And I think we have research that leans toward that. Well I'll put, you know, we'll put the links in the show notes, but here's the summary of this. Multiple studies have shown that yes, THC does have a negative effect on short term memory. Now a lot of people in the cannabis industry don't want to talk about this because you know, it's, it's a, it's, it's just an obvious you know, not great selling point. Right. but both of the studies that I've looked at to this topic said that within 30 days of cessation of consumption of said THC the short term memory of the participants was right back to total normal. Um, so what we're seeing is yes, there is an impact on short-term memory, not long-term memory, but that that impact is relatively short-term and brief.

Curt Robbins (10:26): And you can essentially hit the reset button.

Curt Robbins (10:29): Exactly. It's not as if, well, again, you take that argument to the extent of propaganda and you say it kills brain cells. No, it, that's not the mechanism behind it. It's not killing brain cells. And to your point, we found for patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases that some of the molecules in hemp and cannabis, like terpenes and cannabinoids and CBD and CBG and THC, and we talk about these every episode, you know, these molecules that they are neuroprotectants. We have many studies that reveal various mechanisms of neuroprotection. And there's anecdotal studies too. And in fact, another thing we'll put in the show notes is an article that I wrote for StrainPrint a year or two ago and I decided to include a speech that I saw Jack Herer or the hemp activist who was so famous and wrote The Emperor Wears No Clothes, an excellent book that I recommend to your listeners. Anyway, he told a story in Lake County, California that I was privy to listen to in person. This was like November, 2006 a long time ago. But anyway, his mother on the East coast, he's from Brooklyn and he, you know, spent most of his career in California and then Venice Beach and Northern California. But his mother was still back in Brooklyn with her second husband who was quite conservative, more about that in a second. So she went and visited Jack for 30 days, and everybody knew she had Alzheimer's. And he said, look, mom, we're gonna deal with this and believe in the curative powers of cannabis. He gave her a joint in the morning and a joint at night, and he basically said, you're going to sit here and smoke this, whether you like it or not. And basically her Alzheimer's according to hair went into a remission. It just, she was back to normal because she got in so bad she was not recognizing family members, like children. Right? and he said he got her totally back to normal, so he sent her back to Brooklyn with 60 joints. That's two joints per day for a month. And he said, he said, 'Mom, when you run out, I'm going to ship you more and I'm just going to keep you fed with these. So we keep your Alzheimer's at bay.' And unfortunately, her husband was very conservative and he flushed the joints down the toilet. It's not a happy ending. She, the Alzheimer's came back and she got to the point where, yeah, she didn't recognize children again and it eventually took her life. Unfortunately. Now this is not scientific proof. This is called anecdotal evidence and it's a story from one person.

Kannaboomers (13:10): You know, I've got some experience in that realm too with my family and you know, I wish that the nursing homes were more open. They're not there yet, but hopefully they're there on their way. It's tragic all the way around. Your next topic was the misinformation that cannabis, we've all heard this cannabis cures cancer, right?

Curt Robbins (13:28): And this is extremely similar to our last episode when we talked about a CBD company, owners and celebrities basically shoveling misinformation and using terms like prevent and cure. And they were talking specifically about CBD for the coronavirus. But there are plenty of people, they're easy to find on social media and you know, God bless them. We want to believe in these curative powers. And I'm one of those people who wants to believe, but it's got to be driven by evidence and science and you know, peer-reviewed research studies and as we've talked about before, not just one but you know, multiples. But there are plenty of folks who believe that cannabis or some of its constituent molecules like cannabinoids and terpenes can basically cure cancer. A lot of these people are kind of anti-big pharma. They, and I can understand because big pharma does both good and bad. I mean, I have family members who big pharma helps them get through their day for pain management. But you know, they also use cannabis products too and they don't want to become addicted to opioids and things. So we have a lot of pros and cons and in our healthcare system, I think to go 100% anti-big pharma is kind of a zealotist and ridiculous perspective. We just, we can't say CBD or any other molecule cures. And you've interviewed Mara Gordon before and Peter Grinspoon and Ben Kaplan. These are some of the leading researchers and practicing clinicians, MDs, practicing clinicians in this country who well they believe in the health benefits of these molecules very strongly. Sometimes they conduct their own research, like Ben Kaplan. He's assembling a collection of research with the CED Foundation. It's very impressive, right? But any of these experts in the field, if you ask them, will any of these molecules prevent or cure something like cancer? They, they're head explodes, right? They're like, please don't even say that because they see so much of it on social media. And if you follow these thought leaders, you'll see them correcting, people out there on social media almost on the daily and saying, 'Please don't say it cures cancer,' because well, from an ethical perspective, they're one of their biggest arguments is that it gives false hope.

Kannaboomers (15:52): Not to say that it doesn't help with some of the symptoms you might be dealing with, especially if you are undergoing chemotherapy. You know, it could help with the nausea, could help with the pain, could help you sleep. All those things are very helpful. But yeah, let's be clear-eyed about it. And you know, you mentioned cancer, but it's, and we did the whole episode last week too, on COVID-19 on the coronavirus. This is not a cure.

Curt Robbins (16:13): Exactly. Now, you know, people ping me on social media and they say, 'Hey dude, you know, that's not true because, you know, my aunt had cancer or MS or whatever condition and cannabis and, or hemp derivatives, you know, these molecules helped her.' And I said, 'Look at the word you just used: Help.' I think it's definitely a help. But the reason I perceive these cannabinoids and terpenes from hemp and cannabis to be helpful is because of the research studies. And because smart practicing clinicians who have a cynical eye toward all of this as I believe they should, good science says, 'prove it.' Right. I've got a car that'll go 200 miles an hour. All right? What? We're going to have to test that. It's not that we don't trust you, but we got to have hard numbers. Okay. So, yeah, when people say you know, my relative or myself, sometimes people are saying, Hey you know, I've had people on social say, screw you, cannabis cured my cancer. So you know, you can go pound sand. I don't know how to respond to that. I'm like, okay, first, congratulations. I'm really glad that you got healthy. I'm very glad you got healthy regardless of how you did that. But for most people and Mara Gordon's really good with this message. For most people it's a mix of, you know, pharmaceutical drugs, different therapies. We, I think the proper mental framework is that cannabis and hemp are, it's a tool in the toolbox, right? You might need chemotherapy to kick your cancer and there's pros and cons to that, right? Every solution, you know, the hammer has pros and cons. The screwdriver has pros and cons, but hemp and are tools in the toolbox and they're part of the solution. They are rarely the entire solution.

Kannaboomers (17:55): As much as we want to correlate the result with our intent. Sometimes correlation is not causation. Right?

Kannaboomers (18:01): Exactly. That's a wonderful thing we need to remember on a daily basis. Cause there's a lot of information sources out there. If our overall topic in this episode is misinformation, there are people who make that logical error, right? I recommend to all your listeners, I took a course in college just, I'm sure I was just satisfying, you know, requirements and I wasn't really a, but it really got my attention on it and it was logic. It was a full class on logic.

Kannaboomers (18:30): You know, I, I took that too. And my grade wasn't as high as it should have been, but it was eye-opening. Right?

Curt Robbins (18:36): It is because it's a really interesting way of looking at life and things like all As are Bs and all Bs are Cs, therefore all As are Cs. And I just, my brain loves that shit. Right? Cause there's, there's no drama, right? There's no, 'He said, she said, Republican versus Democrat.' It's just bam. It is what it is. And there's a lot of, you know, propaganda out there, misinformation like we're talking about. And sometimes they get into logical fallacies. In fact, quite frequently. And if you're educated on basic logic, just logic one-on-one, I'm not saying get a Ph.D. In it, you can smell out those fallacies and say, 'Whoa, that's misinformation.' And that's a good thing for consumers and business people, you know, industry pros and hemp and cannabis because you don't want to be re-tweeting or posting to Facebook or whatever misinformation. Cause then you're part of the problem instead of the solution.

Kannaboomers (19:25): Right? And that's what we're here to help solve. We call it Twenty 4:20 and we're hitting 20. But let's, let's give ourselves permission to go a little further because there's another topic, another aspect of this that you had in the outline. And that is the belief that cannabis is addictive.

Curt Robbins (19:41): Right? This is something that has more name dropping. We talked about Peter Grinspoon earlier out of Boston and Dr. Grinspoon loves to talk about topics like addiction. It turns out, well, there's two different types of addiction. First off, there's a physical and psychological. Now, physical addiction is like alcoholism and addiction to heroin. That's, you know, it can kill you to withdraw from those drugs, right? Whereas a psychological addiction is like, I got to watch SpongeBob every day after school and have a chocolate bar. Cause I'm kind of psychologically addicted to that. I have a real craving for that, right? So you can be psychologically addicted to anything: Oprah, chocolate, masturbation, riding your motorcycle. You know, it just, so we have to realize that in terms of true addiction, we have multiple studies that show that addiction rates to cannabis. And yes, okay. Here, if you're a purist and you say there is no addiction to cannabis, that is wrong, that is wrong. But we're showing the addiction rate. Multiple studies have shown, Peter Grinspoon has talked about it's about 9% it's between nine and 11% studies have shown, and that's almost identical to caffeine. So if the propagandists and the folks who are spouting misinformation want to say, here's why we're against cannabis legalization, it's addictive. It's like, well then you should shut down all the Starbucks too, because it's about the same addiction rate as caffeine.

Kannaboomers (21:12): To be clear, we're talking about 9% of the people who are using cannabis could develop like a physiological addiction where they would have symptoms when they came off it.

Curt Robbins (21:21): Right? And again, this gets down to, and I know we don't have the time to deep dive on it right now, but the exact definition, you know, the academic definition of addiction, because we have a lot of different terms here. There's addiction, there's dependence. And you know, I encourage listeners to research that a bit. I've actually had the pleasure of talking about these topics with licensed therapists. And and, and boy, they, they really gave me quite an education in terms of, you know, there's a reason, again, if we're complaining that we don't want someone to say CBD cures coronavirus or cures cancer, we want to say helps, right? We have to be very precise with our terms. It's the same thing with addiction. You, at the end of the day, you gotta be precise with your terms. And we could all use a little one-on-one primer on what is the difference between addiction and dependence and physical addiction and psychological addiction. And, you know, just the basics, right?

Kannaboomers (22:19): Some of the opioids, if you're addicted and you don't get it, you're in a bad, bad way.

Curt Robbins (22:23): And it could be life threatening, right? Like heroin, you know? Yeah. That's a true physical addiction that can mess you up big time. Yeah.

Kannaboomers (22:30): So if you're addicted to cannabis and you don't get a joint that day, are you going to be in the cold sweats or are you going to throw up or are you, do you know,

Curt Robbins (22:39): I'll drop, I'll drop some links into the show notes. That's an excellent question. And I, I know that, you know, there can, if we get into the territory of physical addiction, there can be issues like that, right? But I'd rather not just spout something off. I'd rather cite something from a good peer reviewed research study.

Kannaboomers (23:00): Sure. We will get that into the show notes. Have we covered that we need to cover? We could go on forever about misinformation.

Curt Robbins (23:07): This list our outline with originally about nine topics we covered for just cause I didn't want to go too shallow on any of them. But you know, I encourage your listeners to basically have a mindset of healthy cynicism, you know, not, don't be a hater. Gosh, I see the haters on social media all the time and it's just like, ah, you know, it's not getting us anywhere. Right. but a healthy cynicism is very, very good. And part of it, and we've talked about this in the past, is selecting good information sources you know, deal, listen to Harvard. Do you listen to Kannaboomers do where, you know are you curating your interviewees in such a manner that listeners can have faith in what they're hearing? Is Mara Gordon or Ben Kaplan, are they spouting misinformation and propaganda just to sell a product? So, you know, we need to take both the information itself and do that little logic test, right? To your logic, one-on-one folks during the pandemic. You got to spare time. And then also consider the source. I love social media because it lets me go to sources that I know are already curating intelligently for me. Right. If Mara Gordon says this product is really great, I just, I know our core values align enough that I'm going to say, 'Oh let me check this out.' Right. Or if she says, 'Whoa, stay away from this company cause they're a bunch of sharks,' you know, I am, because I've already vetted her as an information source. So yeah, just I would tell listeners, don't listen to everything at face value. Consider the source of the information and then you know, logically analyze the information itself.

Kannaboomers (24:46): Absolutely. Look for those certifications. Follow the money, make sure your sources have been vetted and don't believe everything you hear.

Curt Robbins (24:54): Yeah. You've been following a hemp organization. Right. Why don't you name drop them cause I checked them out. They look really impressive. Right?

Kannaboomers (25:00): The U.S. Hemp Authority, I'm pointing to brands that have been certified because they have a sort of farm to table approach, a nice level of certification on all things.

Curt Robbins (25:09): So excellent. That's, and that's a good way of approaching the situation. You know, you've got me wanting to pay attention to them simply because I don't have the time to vet all this stuff. Right.

Kannaboomers (25:17): Okay. Well, I think we covered our, our outline topics and then some great episodes and you know, there's enough misinformation. We might have to come back and do this again.

Curt Robbins (25:27): We just, we just might, well, we've got a few more episodes in our series here, so I'll encourage listeners to check back with us next week and we'll hit it again.

Kannaboomers (25:36): All right. Thanks so much, Curt.

Curt Robbins (25:37): Thanks Tom.

Curt Robbins (25:38): You've been listening to 24 20 a special edition podcast series from Kannaboomers and Curt Robbins. Want to learn more and help grow the cannabis movement, spread the word and follow us on your favorite podcast platform or at