5 Myths About Marijuana

With the prohibition of marijuana and lack of peer reviewed research being conducted within the United States, it’s not surprising to see that there is some disinformation being passed around.  Since individual states have begun their legalization of marijuana process, I have heard hundreds of myths about marijuana.  Below is a list of 5 that we will debunk.

Myth: Marijuana is a gateway drug.

This myth is born out of a flawed process of thinking, and in fact, many marijuana users have never used other illicit drugs.  Keeping in mind the current and historical legal status, pot was available to suppliers of a multitude of substances.  Because of this, it would make sense for a user who used a less common drug like heroin or opium to also have access to weed.

Source:  Morral, Andrew R.; McCaffrey, Daniel F. and Susan M. Paddock. “Reassessing the marijuana gateway effect.” Addiction  97.12 (2002): 1493-504.

Myth: Smoking marijuana causes mental illnesses

I’m really unaware of the origin of this accusation, but it likely came from those blindly supporting abstaining from cannabis.  The only feasible explanation is that there has been a correlation drawn between those who smoke marijuana and those who have a mental illness.  This does not, however, bring about causation.  A user’s choice to self-medicate does not mean that the medication caused the illness.

Source: D.B. Kandel and M. Davies, “Progression to Regular Marijuana Involvement: Phenomenology and Risk Factors for Near-Daily Use,” Vulnerability to Drug Abuse, Eds. M. Glantz and R. Pickens. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1992: 211-253.

Myth:  Marijuana causes cancer

This false statement was probably tied to the discoveries about smoking cigarettes of eras past.  The good news is, studies have been done that encompass a 20 year time span and no link has been drawn between cannabis and causing cancer.  In fact, there are studies still being performed to this day that are beginning to show the opposite affect; it may actually help slow, stop, or possibly even destroy cancerous cells.

Source:  M. Hashibe et al., “Marijuana use and the risk of lung and upper aerodigestive tract cancers: results of a population-based case-control study,” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 15, no. 10 (October 2006): 1829-1834.

Myth:  Marijuana has no medicinal uses

Fortunately, this particular topic has gained a lot of traction lately.  The medicinal use of marijuana has come to be a highly scrutinized and public topic with a multitude of peer reviewed studies backing up the benefits.  Regardless of what has been measured by science, ruling out placebo effects, many cancer, glaucoma, ADD, and alzheimer’s patients have come forward to speak about positive impacts that have been made.

Source: Vinciguerra, Vincent; Moore, Terry and Eileen Brennan. “Inhalation marijuana as an antiemetic for cancer chemotherapy.” New York State Journal of Medicine 85 (1988): 525-27.

McCabe M,  Smith FP,  Macdonald JS. “Efficacy of tetrahydrocannabinol in patients refractory to standard antiemetic therapy.” Investigational New Drugs 6.3 (1988): 243-46.

Merritt, J.C., et al. “Effects of marijuana on intraocular and blood pressure on glaucoma.” Ophthamology 87 (1980):222-28.

Baker, D., Gareth Pryce and J. Ludovic Croxford. “Cannabinoids control spasticity and tremor in a multiple sclerosis model.” Nature  404.6773 (2000): 84-7.

Hanigan, W.C., et al. “The Effect of Delta-9-THC on Human Spasticity.” Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 39 (1986):198.

Myth: Marijuana is addictive

This is a difficult topic to broach.  It is, in fact, addictive, and that can’t be avoided.  The problem is that nearly anything can be addictive.  THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, is not chemically addictive – and neither are any of the other compounds.  It can however lead to a psychological dependence due to the feeling of well-being and satisfaction that comes with it.  It is assessed that less than 9% of users become addicted.

Source: National Institute of Health

It seems as though the claims against responsible cannabis use get more and more ridiculous.  Every year, there are more myths about marijuana being spread amongst members of any particular group with an agenda to help spread disinformation.  Although it’s important to know about the pros and cons, it’s also important to allow for consumers to make a well informed decision based on facts.