One of the most common and wholly incorrect stereotypes of cannabis users is that they’re lazy, unmotivated couch potatoes. To the contrary, the list of ambitious, inspired cannabis users in business, the arts and the sports world is endless.
The anti-marijuana crowd also likes to rail against the negative health effects caused by cannabis use. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), a Congressionally funded research agency tasked with gathering and compiling information that demonstrates its dangers, states that cannabis use will cause poorer mental health, breathing problems, hallucinations, paranoia, impaired body movement and relationship problems, among many other perils. NIDA also subscribes to the long-debunked “Gateway Theory”—that cannabis leads to hard drug use. Essentially, NIDA’s propaganda hasn’t changed in the past 20 years.
Related Story: More Proof That Marijuana Keeps You Thin, Fit And Active
However, as cannabis gains favorability, fresh statistics refute NIDA’s claims. Checking on a number of surveys that report on the fittest and healthiest states in the nation, it’s clear that US states that enjoy high levels of fitness are often among states with the highest number of cannabis users per capita.
Hawaii, Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota, California, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Utah, Colorado, Washington, New York, Montana and Nebraska are commonly listed as states with the highest level of fitness among residents. Among these, only Utah and Nebraska have not passed laws that allow recreational or medical cannabis use.
Of the 15 states with the highest rate of use of cannabis per capita, nine of those are also ranked among the healthiest. Hawaii, Montana, Connecticut, New York, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Colorado and Vermont all rank highly in both categories. Unsurprisingly, the states with the highest level of cannabis use per capita have all enacted laws that legalize cannabis in some degree.
What about the “unhealthy” states? Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Indiana are reported to be the ten states with the worst levels of fitness and health in the nation. All have rates of cannabis use that rank among the lowest in the nation and none of these states have passed laws allowing recreational cannabis use.
Among those that have passed medical laws, only Arkansas has a comprehensive medical marijuana program. Louisiana’s law is highly restrictive with only a few ailments qualifying for treatment with cannabis. The laws of Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee and South Carolina allow CBD usage only. In Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia, cannabis use of any kind is illegal.
The components of a fit and healthy life are diet, exercise, rest and mental stimulation. Cannabis may provide the building blocks. Last April, a study in the American Journal of Medicine suggested that pot smokers are skinnier than the average person and have healthier metabolisms and reaction to sugars. For athletes, a growing mountain of evidence shows that cannabis alleviates pain, reduces inflammation and promotes sleep. And as far as the inspiration and fresh thinking that cannabis seems to stimulate, it may originate from the release of dopamine in the brain, which lessens inhibitions and promotes relaxation,allowing the brain the capacity to perceive concepts and problems differently.
The fortunate Americans who live in states where cannabis use is legitimate are already experiencing its benefits. At some point, lawmakers and mainstream medicine must recognize that cannabis and a healthier population go hand in hand.