For drug warriors, fabrication is the name of the game. It’s our job to set the record straight—so we can get stoned with peace of mind!
Marijuana can have life-threatening side effects. For instance, the other day, I accidentally ordered two sides of wings with my pizza instead of just one. I almost died from deliciousness.
And psychedelics should also be avoided at all costs. I should know: I once dropped LSD and bought a whole bunch of tie-dyes. But after I came down, I discovered they were just plain white.
From cats doomed to be stoned forever, to LSD-dosed tattoos, to the gateway theory, we’ve heard ’em all! As Lee Hopcraft, an organizer for the BUD Summit in Washington, DC, told High Times: “It’s a gateway drug, but not a gateway to hell—it’s a gateway to new opportunities!”
Hell yeah, Lee! So here are 10 drug-related urban legends and why they’re bullshit.
1. If your cat gets high, they’ll be that way forever.
On my cat’s birthday, I presented him with a catnip plant. (Mommy has her green; kitty has his.) Catnip is one thing, but what about cats and pot?
Let’s be honest: Some of you pet owners have blown pot into your kitty’s ears. According to veterinarian and certified veterinary acupuncturist Patrick Mahaney, cats do get stoned.
“If a cat inhales or ingests cannabis, they may experience euphoria as a result of the THC and feel a pain-relieving and sedating effect from the CBD,” Mahaney says.
Just like us, how high a cat gets depends on THC levels, the cat’s weight and how much it consumes. Obviously, when you’re high as hell and your cat is too, the last thing you wanna hear is that your feline friend will be baked forever.
Don’t fret, you crazy cat fans! If our kitties get too stoned, they just need to wait it out.
“Over time, the effect will dissipate as the body metabolizes the THC and CBD through the liver, kidneys and other organ systems, and the cat should no longer experience the sensations of euphoria or pain relief and sedation,” Mahaney says. “The cat should not have an ongoing sensation of being high.”
Just to be safe, though, keep the weed for yourself.
2. LSD will send you to an insane asylum.
It’s ironic, given that LSD is phenomenal for mind expansion—allowing users to become more empathetic, emotionally intelligent and open-minded—that the fun police have long perpetuated the myth that if you ingest too much of it, you’ll go insane and have to be locked up in the loony bin.
Full disclosure: The most I’ve ever taken at one time is three and a half tabs. But to ensure this urban legend’s falsity, I asked a friend by the name of Keys, who accidentally drank nearly whole bottle of liquid LSD, about the experience.
Keys didn’t end up locked away, but he did trip for days and become very good friends with the stray animals in his neighborhood.
“It was pretty crazy—I completely lost my sense of self,” he recalls. So if you’re going to consume an immense amount of acid, the only real concern is having a clear schedule.
3. If you ask an undercover cop if he (or she) is a cop, they have to tell you.
Ah, if only this myth were true. As an attorney told me: “If he’s undercover, he’s undercover.”
Also, if you’re detained or arrested, there’s only one good way to talk to the police: Don’t. Refuse to answer any questions. And call a lawyer.
4. LSD makes you think you’re orange juice.
This urban legend resurfaced on social-media outlets earlier this year. It’s another bizarre variation on the lie that LSD will drive you insane.
Apparently, one man—somewhere, somehow—took so much LSD that he thought he was made of orange juice. If drug warriors think this tale will deter kids from trying LSD, they messed up. Why not tell them that you’ll believe you’re a pile of stale, dried poop? I mean, who wouldn’t want to think they’re orange juice? Orange juice is delicious! And orange juice is cool, too—it’s, like, orange! And “orange” is too cool to rhyme with anything. I wanna be orange juice!
5. Pot stored in your fat cells will cause flashbacks.
Where does this stuff come from? Just like the buzzkills sung about acid hiding in your spine, a generation has been warned that cannabis hibernates in your fat cells, kinda like a dormant volcano, erupting when you least expect it in the form of a flashback. Of course, there’s no scientific evidence backing this up, and none for the similar LSD rumor.
In 2009, scientists injected rats with THC, then put the poor things through severe stress and starvation to see if such horrid experiences would trigger a delayed THC release. They found that stress might possibly re-release some THC from previous consumption, but not enough to get you stoned off your fat deposits. The human users who have reported “flashbacks” seem to have experienced them following exercise and were actually just enjoying “runner’s high.” (Sometimes it pays to get off the couch!)
For those prone to paranoia, a panic attack can absolutely make you feel like you’ve slightly lost touch with reality. So if you undergo what feels like a weed flashback, maybe your endorphins are firing from exercise, or maybe you’re experiencing a bout of anxiety. Or maybe you’ve just smoked a joint so fat that you forgot you smoked it.
6. Strangers give kids weed candy on Halloween.
Remember when you were a kid, and your parents warned you about strangers hiding razor blades inside of candy apples on Halloween? Well, the drug warriors report that something even scarier is being handed out—cannabis!
As recently as last year, government agencies in legal states like Washington and Colorado were issuing fear-mongering warnings to parents about cannabis-infused edibles disguised as trick-or-treat candy. What actually happened?
Um, nothing … there were no reported cases of Halloween-related cannabis ingestion by children.
7. MDMA pokes holes in your brain.
Relax, your brain isn’t riddled with Swiss-cheese-style holes like the retired cop told you it would be during a PowerPoint presentation in your high-school gym. But if you do feel like your brain is being eaten away, it’s probably because these trumped-up anti-drug rumors have rendered you a frantic basket case.
Simply put, MDMA doesn’t cause holes in the human brain. “It’s funny that that one’s still around,” says Lauren Austin Ciovacco, the community-outreach and operations director of Medicinal Mindfulness, an organization that provides mindfulness services for people who use psychedelics and cannabis. Ciovacco believes that the brain-hole legend originated from the truth that MDMA does impact serotonin axon levels, which is why it makes you feel awesome.
Furthermore, even the DEA greenlighted medical trials on MDMA as a treatment for PTSD. MDMA could allow veterans to confront negative memories without being overwhelmed by dread, thus helping them to deal with their trauma.
8. Lucky Strikes Cigarettes Contained Weed
Imagine if, every time Don Draper lit a cigarette on Mad Men, he was actually getting blazed. He probably would’ve drunk a whole lot less and had a whole lot fewer problems. Unfortunately—not!
The myth is that smoking one of these was a “lucky strike” because you were really puffing on marijuana. Plus the slogan on the pack read: “It’s toasted.” But that was in reference to the tobacco, not the stoned sensation we all know and love.
9. Drug dealers give children temporary tattoos made with LSD.
Back in the 1970s, warnings spread like herpes that temporary tattoos resembling postage stamps—and with a secret payload of LSD—were being distributed to children. It seems that many urban legends about cannabis and psychedelics are based on the premise that people really want to give away their drugs. What it demonstrates is how desperately and spectacularly square the War on Drug–mongers had to be to make this shit up in the first place! Of all the recreational chemicals, LSD is the one that best invokes a sense of community and oneness—but my friends still make me pay for my tabs.
10. Marijuana is a “gateway” drug.
We saved the biggest and most damaging urban legend for last. We’re happy to announce, categorically and unequivocally, that weed is not a gateway drug. The factors that lead to hard-drug use are things like poverty, mental illness, poor social environment, and association with people who use hard drugs. Of course, good old prohibition and criminalization are are hugely responsible as well.
Ironically, cannabis is very likely a reverse-gateway drug. Health professionals are finding it to be highly beneficial for harm reduction, helping patients to break addictions to dangerous drugs like opiates. In fact, Colorado medical cannabis doctor Wendy Zaharko reports: “Many patients come to me and say they’ve found cannabis helpful in getting off meth or heroin.”
So there you have it. Doctor’s orders: Relax, and go get stoned!