Illustration by James Stanton

Illustration by James Stanton

Tales of THC Terror

Every last horrible thing has been blamed on weed.

Generations of weed smokers have been entertained and astounded by absurd propaganda pieces alleging impossible scenarios all based around some ill-fated run-in with the Devil’s Lettuce, cannabis. From insanity to cannibalism to death, every last horrible thing has been blamed on weed. Given that today is Halloween, let’s get one of the biggest whoppers out of the way first.

Every October, news outlets run articles cautioning against suspicious ne’er-do-wells creeping about, handing out drug-laced candy to the kiddies. In the 1970s it was cocaine, in the 1990s crack, and today it’s weed. Parents are drilled to pore over any candy or treats given to children to make sure everything is perfectly safe. Hospitals even offer to X-ray candy for free to look for foreign objects. But like all the other horrific items people have supposedly stuffed into sweet treats—razor blades, poisons, independent thoughts—there is absolutely no record in any police department in the country of a single incident. And I mean, can I be super-real for a moment? Edibles are expensive. Who is blowing their stash on some kid who can’t even comprehend the difference between an indoor and outdoor grow?

One classic story is about pharmacologist Dr. James Munch, who just happened to be a really good friend of Harry J. Anslinger, the chief honcho of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962. Anslinger would call on Munch to testify to the perils of the “devil weed.” This motherfucker right here declared—under oath!—that “after two puffs on a marijuana cigarette, I was turned into a bat.” This bullshit opened the door for several murderers to avoid sentencing by claiming to be under the psychosis-inducing effects of weed. Anslinger kept Munch on the bench after that one.

Back in 2014, police chief Michael Pristoop was testifying against legalization in his home state of Maryland. Citing a chilling statistic from Colorado’s experience with legalization, he dropped this truth-bomb: “I remember the first day it was decriminalized, there were 37 deaths.” This was followed by the deafening sound of every jaw in the room hitting the floor because homeboy was quoting a story that originated on a satire website. A senator in the room tried to correct him, but the chief was having none of that. “If it was a misquote, then I’ll stand behind the mistake,” said Pristoop. “But I’m holding onto the information I was provided.” This guy gets to carry a gun, btw.

As it turns out, no one has ever overdosed and died from cannabis consumption. Anywhere. Ever.

One of the longest-standing weed fables is the subject of flashbacks. As with LSD, people have claimed that the sudden release of THC from fat cells being rapidly broken down—say, during exercise, sex, or crash dieting—can lead to either a flashback or a positive drug-test result. In fact, this myth is so pervasive that in 2009 a professor from Australia based a paper on the idea and the British Journal of Pharmacology published it. However, it’s almost impossible for a cell to hold enough THC to show up on a test. These days, more and more doctors and physiologists are coming forward to debunk this myth once and for all. They suggest that the momentary high is coming from naturally occurring drugs like endorphins, dopamine, and, most important, anandamide, which fits into the same receptors in our brains as THC. Sorry, no free high for you. And that’s the scariest story of all.

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