Debunking the 12 Famous European Myths About Cannabis


Cannabis is still banned almost everywhere in the world; since the prohibition of cannabis in the 20th century, a lot of rumors and myths about cannabis have been created. Some of them concern the cultivation, a few the further processing, and many of them the consumption. Although cannabis has been relatively well researched for decades, due to the rules of black market dealers, consumers could not rely on health certificates or sales contracts. Here, the spoken word counted. This in turn leads to the fact that pipe dreams are often taken at face value. Certainly, the urban cannabis legends differ a little from one another on each side of the Great Pond, but many of them are widespread in Europe, the USA and Canada. Due to the media coverage and the legal market for millions, the average level of education is much higher in North America when it comes to cannabis; Europe is still more gullible when it comes to alternative facts about marijuana. While some fairy tales from the cannabinoid dreamworld do not last long, others remain popular for decades. The following article will help debunk these fictitious stories of cannabis by means of well-founded facts.

gmo cannabis myths

Again and again, the media reports about supposedly genetically modified cannabis. This rumor was apparently spread with the intent to project existing fears of genetically manipulated food onto hemp. Genetic engineering is the artificial modification of the genome, which his consists of four acids, the building blocks of DNA. These acids are “exchanged” — in a simplified manner — with one another, and a living being with new properties is produced.

Italians Tito Schiva and Saverio Alberti were the first to carry out experiments on hemp with a surprising result. In their experiments, hemp was resistant to genetic modification, as their scientific publication “Green fluorescent flowers” stated in 2002. The aim of the study was originally the production of commercial hemp, which is distinctive from illicit drugs. However, cannabis proved to be resistant to genetic modification.

The most recent research results underline the thesis of the Italians. The science journalist Lars Fischer has published an article about the latest findings on genetically modified cannabis in his Sciblog. Fischer writes that it is not impossible to modify hemp genetically, but it is very complicated. In fact, it is much harder to produce genetically modified cannabis plants than it is with most other crops. According to a few samples, however, the marijuana that is currently cultivated does not have GMO properties: “It was the only positive finding for all samples with high contents. If strains with a high THC-content were genetically generated, their spread would be far wider … Probably this one sample was easily contaminated with other genetically modified plants, for example from a cornfield serving as a camouflage. This is, of course, just a single study with just a handful of samples, on which we can by no means rule out that out there still somewhere genetically modified cannabis is around.”


There is also no evidence for the presumption that Monsanto wants to enter the cannabusiness. Nevertheless, the rumor was repeated so often that the company expressed its opinion in 2015. “Monsanto has not and is not working on GMO marijuana. This allegation is an Internet rumor,” as the company’s homepage has stated ever since. But Monsanto’s brand new owner, the German Bayer AG, invested millions in the development of Sativex. Bayer AG is the main investor for GW Pharmaceuticals, the pharmaceutical company that developed Sativex. But so far, there is only one GMO company involved in medical marijuana. The South African “Plandai Biotechnology” obtained a contract for the cultivation of medical cannabis in Uruguay in 2015 and started a project together with the University of Montevideo, which will lead to clinical studies on the effects of different cannabinoids.

By the end of 2014, the company had already announced a cannabis extract for medical use, which is still not available on the market. Although “Plandai Biotechnology” is not the Big Monsanto player, it is also one of the genetic engineering companies which are generally not very popular, at least in Europe. In a company video, Plandai Biotechnology points out its success in protein synthesis — not in the context of cannabis research — in its main product, a green tea extract. Protein synthesis is what is commonly called “genetic modification.” According to recent reports, the company has already shown interest in a future cannabis program in South Africa.

The First Jeans Were Made of Hemp

The first jeans from Levi’s company, despite other claims, were not made of hemp but from Italian denim. It is true that denim can be made from hemp, but Mr. Strauss chose Genoa-cotton. To this day, the Strauss jeans are still made from denim. Neither the US Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence nor the Bill of Rights were written on hemp paper. Only the drafts of these historical documents were made on the widely-used hemp paper. The official documents, however, were written on Vellum, a more noble and fine parchment from the skin of calves and cows.


Anyone who has ever been to an Amsterdam coffeeshop knows “Zero” or “Zero-Zero” hashish. The supposedly best hash in the world is traded at the highest rates in the coffeeshops of the Dutch metropolis. In Morocco, the quality of the hash is determined by the number of sievings. The best is produced with the first sieving. Depending on the farmer and the quality of the raw material, the sun dried cannabis bundles are sieved up to six times, whereby the quality gets worse every time. The proportion of resin decreases with each sieving as the content of plant parts increases. The hash of the last screening is dust-dry, quite weak, and only exported to Europe. Dutch coffeeshops rarely sell hashish of such poor quality. “Zero Hash” comes from the “zero,” null, not a bit. These are the resin crystals the farmer taps off before the grass bundle is sieved. He taps the bundle on the edge of a bowl once or twice. The yield of this technique is so low that it is mostly kept for the producer’s use or as a giveaway for friends. There are farmers who sell their very best hash, the first sieving, but the zero sieving stays in the country because the yield is too small for real business. The zero-zero sold in the coffeeshops of Amsterdam is therefore, rather, the first, second or third sieving. But this is still much better than the majority of the Moroccan export hash.


Can you get high without actively consuming? A dream that will never come true. The theory: Once consumed, the not utilized THC is stored in fat cells to get back into the bloodstream during sporting or other fat burning, physically exhausting activities. But there is not a single piece of evidence in the form of clinical trials or scientific research that supports this obscure theory. The German Federal Constitutional Court rejected the “Echo-High” theory in cannabis as early as 2002 in a DUI-landmark decision. In the case of physical exertion, only the cannabinoid anandamide in addition to body-borne opiates, which contribute to the so-called “runner’s high,” is excreted.


This formula stating that “room volume (cubic meters) multiplied by 40 gives the appropriate fan size” was published in one of the world’s most famous growing-guides in the 1990s. The exact calculation of a ventilation system for cooling is extremely complex and requires comprehensive professional training, because many factors influence the climate in a heated room. The decisive factor is the volume of the room and the lamp output in watts. Formulas that do not establish a relationship between volume and light output are dubious. If you were told that the fan should replace the air in the room 40 times the volume, then what you’ve been told is nonsense. According to such a formula, a PC fan would be enough to cool a shoe box with a 600-watt lamp bulb. But it won’t. A High Pressure Sodium bulb heats up 0.5 cubic meters of air faster than it heats up two cubic meters. So the smaller the box and the stronger the lamp power, the faster the room warms up. Therefore, the grower with the smallest boxes unfortunately needs the strongest fans.

A simple rule of thumb for home-growing, which has proven itself in practice:

  • For rooms from 0.3 to 1m²: Light output in watts x 0.8 = fan power in m³/hour
  • For rooms from 1 to 5 m²: Light output in watts x 0.65 = fan power in m³/hour
  • For rooms over 5 m²: Light output in watts x 0.4 and then rounded off generously = fan power in m³/hour.

smoking bananas and other flowers

In the United States, the rumor about psychoactive banana peels once spread. What is Bananadine in the USA has been claimed in Germany for several years by hydrangeas. Media reports about hydrangeas thieves looting hobby gardeners front gardens in order to get a replacement high are published with frequency in springtime. Hydrangeas, however, are as psychoactive as Bananadine, and in the worst case, one can get a bluish acid poison instead of a the high expected due to the hoax. So far, a thief has never been caught in the act — the numerous reports are unexceptionally based on assumptions. The rumor was brought into the world by a pharmaceutical journal, which has not corrected its mistake. By the way, the hydrangeas thieves are usually squirrels.

cannabis harvest

Since the 1970s, the rumor of people harvesting hashish naked by running through big fields and scratching the resin off their skin afterwards has been repeated. In spite of alleged reports from Nepal or Kazakhstan, there is no photographic or cinematic evidence of this “harvesting technique.” The method would also be a little hairy and not very effective, as most of the resin would simply remain on the plant. For the production of Indian Charras, the bud is rubbed between the hands and the resin and oil from the plant sticks there, but the rest of the body remains covered during this process.


…will not work. Cannabis-infused skin creams are absolutely not psychoactive because THC is not absorbed and metabolized by the mucosa. But due to well-known hemp activist Bushka Bryndova from the Czech Republic balsams still have the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis. She had been inspired by the old stories about the use of hemp in public medicine and the research results of Professor Kabelik at the University of Olomouc in the 1950s. Kabelik could at that time save his own finger in front of an amputation. “I started to produce my own cannabis skin cream. In the Czech Republic the production of medicines based on cannabis is prohibited. So I could not let the cream be analyzed or apply for official clinical trials. I base my recommendations on the experiences of friends and acquaintances who have used them against various ailments and diseases. It is a true universal cure, it also acts as an antibiotic and against arthritis and rheumatoid pain. It soothes burns and helps with certain eczema, psoriasis and skin fungi. However, they should not be applied to fresh and / or bleeding wounds”, Bushka writes.

cutting cannabis with hard drugs
Since the 1970s, there have been reports of marijuana or hashish diluted with opium, heroin or, more recently, crystal meth. First, there is no evidence of this in the form of laboratory analyzes; secondly, it is not economically viable to stretch cannabis with substances that are more expensive per gram. Thirdly, most consumers would immediately change the source of supply, which would not make sense to the illegal cannabis dealer because it hurts profits.

legal cannabis and kids

Since cannabis has been legal in Colorado, the Ministry of National Health has recorded statistics on the consumption of marijuana by minors. The market opened only three years ago under very strict protection and prevention laws. There, the number of young people who have consumed cannabis within the last 30 days has remained stable since 2011, in stark contrast to the rest of the United States. Statistics from the Netherlands, where adults can buy up to five gram of cannabis in a coffeeshop have also confirmed  a declining trend among adolescents since the 1990s.

cannabis is a gateway drug myth

Despite the contrary being proven long ago, you can still hear of cannabis being called a gateway drug. The Drugs Advisory Board of the German Federal Government clarified that there is no scientific evidence to support a gateway theory many years ago. Even the NIDA doubts the gateway theory for cannabis meanwhile. The only true thing: When purchasing illegal cannabis, consumers are inevitably coming into contact with dealers who often offer other drugs in addition to cannabis


At present, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and other opponents of legalisation claim that tobacco companies have been trying to enter the “Big Canna Business” for 50 years and are using the scenario of a large cannabis conglomerate as an argument against regulation. Chairman Patrick Kennedy states in several articles that all major tobacco companies have already registered domains for the sale of cannabis. That’s not true. Altria (formerly Phillip Morris) owns and without being the initiator of the registration. A private person from Washington D.C. Had registered the domains and had to hand them over to the group after a trial, an everyday process of copyrights.

The story behind the rumors: As early as 1969, Businessweek published an article showing how the major tobacco companies had developed brand names for cannabis. However, US patent law did not grant protections for several reasons. as its director, Wendt, had declared the “Rolling Stone” a few years later.

But a look at recently opened tobacco archives reveals a strong interest on the part of the big tobacco companies. In the same year, Philip Morris petitioned the Ministry of Justice to receive cannabis for research purposes; Philip Morris asked for secrecy about the inquiry. Their interest in cannabis research ended with the repressive Reagan era. In the 1990s, only small attempts to investigate the market were made by the tobacco industry. Today, the largest tobacco companies are distancing themselves from the cannabis industry.

“We are a US tobacco company. We want to provide our adult consumers with the best tobacco products. We do not sell cannabis and will never do that” Altria states. According to the latest accusation from SAM, both corporations have once again confirmed their official anti-cannabis attitude.

About Author

Michael Knodt is an expert on cannabis politics and cannabis culture across Europe. Born in North Germany, Michael has been living in Berlin since 1990. He initially studied history and journalism before receiving his certification as a carpenter. Since then, Michael has made regular visits to countries where cannabis is cultivated, such as Jamaica and Morocco. He has worked as a freelancer for Weedmaps, Vice Magazine Germany, Sensi Seeds and numerous German-language cannabis magazines since 2004. From 2005 to 2013, Michael was the Editor-in-Chief of Germanys biggest cannabis periodical. He also is the face and presenter of the most popular program on cannabis prohibition and just launched a new channel called "DerMicha." Aside from his journalistic work, Michael is a cannabis patient, activist, sought-after speaker on conferences and congresses, and a father of two.


  1. Europe is a nanny state. Where are the active pro cannabis groups in Europe? When I Google “cannabis uk” or “cannabis europe” in the news section I only get news stories about police seizures and “filthy scum” criminals and the dangerous gangs that prohibition created. Maybe the occasional story about some “mum”, who is now a “criminal”, illegally treating one of her little dumplings with CBD oil. If I google cannabis US I only get stories about legalization, medical research, and stuff related to the cannabis industry. Europe hates freedom and is not the bastion of progressive ideals people make it out to be. It is filled with sheepish people who can’t think for themselves. Can you delve more into this topic? Why is real change only happening in the Americas?

    • The answer to your question is quite complex, but somehting we’ll put a bit more emphasis on in the near future. America has had great influence over the rest of the world’s drug policies. In my estimation, Europe is probably about 10 years behind the U.S. when it comes to cannabis reform. Also, try searching with a browser like Duck Duck Go instead of Google.

      See this search for Europe Marijuana:

      Google will always provide you with a biased search result based on a number of factors that may not be relevant to you.

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