The Many Myths of Marijuana

Marijuana has been coming under further scrutiny as its use becomes increasingly tolerated in the United States. Medical marijuana is a new cash crop in some states while the federal government also holds that Marijuana possession or distribution is illegal. How are those who smoke affected by pot use? What are the long term effects? Is it a gateway drug to “harder” substances? Will a child become a delinquent if they smoke up? It is time to bust some pre-conceived notions and get down to the heart of the matter

9 Active Myths | Suggest a Myth
MYTH: Having a prescription for medical marijuana protects individuals from prosecution.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The Controlled Substances Act does not differentiate between recreational and medical use of marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Agency takes an interest in medical marijuana patients and caregivers and in particular, large cultivation and distribution organizations. Scripts don’t protect from prosecution; there is a mismatch between state law and federal that has yet to be rectified.

MYTH: Portugal and Holland have legalized pot.

Holland has never legalized it. Their official policy from 1976 is to not enforce law against small amounts of possession or to prosecute the coffee shops that sell minimal amounts. The laws are still on the books. Portugal has not made it legal to smoke but has decriminalized it. These offenses are administrative and penalties are civil sanctions like fines and community service

MYTH: Marijuana use causes cancer.

Both marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke contain carcinogens. Marijuana can be consumed in other ways. A 2006 study by UCLA concludes that heavy marijuana use does not lead to lung cancer. “We found…no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect”, states the study’s lead author. Other studies begin to corroborate this inhibitive effect on tumor growth

MYTH: Pot is a dangerous drug.
When ranked against other substances from tobacco to alcohol, it is deemed as less harmful in its effects. It is taken for its pleasurable sensations but is less addictive in general than these other socially-accepted substances. Studies support this ranking.
MYTH: Smoking marijuana leads to “harder” drugs.
Kids who use marijuana are still affected by the same social and emotional factors that would also lead them to harder substances. They are better candidates for using any drug. Marijuana doesn’t necessarily cause them to take other drugs. Research by The Institute of Medicine disclosed “no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”
MYTH: Marijuana use is safe.

Heavy use can be detrimental. Heavy pot users are at high risk for lung and respiratory diseases like bronchitis. Use impairs judgment and reflex time. Driving while high can lead to accidents and death. Choices made under impaired judgment, like unsafe sex, can affect one for a lifetime.

MYTH: Prohibition protects children from using.

Teenagers don’t smoke more pot in states where medical marijuana is legal. According to the Center for Disease Control, marijuana use by teenagers peaked in 2011, with one out of every 15 students disclosing that they smoke most days. It was also the first time that they found U.S. teenagers smoking more pot than cigarettes.

MYTH: Users become criminals.

Pot use is found to be higher among offenders than in the typical civilian population. This doesn’t mean that marijuana use is a causative factor to a criminal lifestyle. The factors that lead one to criminal activity might also lead to drug use. Other recreational or medical pot users commit no additional offenses. It is rare to link it to any violent crime, as users typically do not exhibit any signs of aggression.

MYTH: Marijuana use leads to addiction.
While it is possible to become addicted to marijuana, it happens in a minority of cases where individuals are heavy users. The National Institute of Health states that only about 9 percent of users become clinically dependent on pot at some time or another.