There are many myths about marijuana on the net as well as in the real world. These myths have become so pervasive that many people believe them to be 100% true. In order to give everyone a clearer understanding of the truth about marijuana use, health effects and medical benefits, it will be important to dispel the myths and search out the facts. This way we all know what we are getting ourselves into when it comes to using medical marijuana. Alright, so, lets get started!
Myths About Marijuana #1
Marijuana Causes Cancer
One of the popular myths about marijuana is that smoking it, when compared to tobacco, does more damage to your lungs and has the potential to cause lung cancer just as tobacco does. Additionally, and related to this topic, it is also commonly believed that marijuana use can lead to emphysema and bronchitis.
Lets begin with the facts. Marijuana does contain both carcinogens and irritants, as does tobacco smoke. However, the majority of marijuana users smoke considerably less marijuana when compared to tobacco users per "smoke break" or session. This reduced usage of marijuana, compared to tobacco significantly reduces the risk of serious lung damage.
On the medical front, there has never been a reported case of lung cancer caused solely by the use of marijuana. Backing this fact up is a 1997 study conducted by the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanent Medical Care Program, Oakland, California, suggesting that marijuana use is not related to cancer incidence.
The purpose of this study was to look at the relationship between marijuana use and cancer. The study was conducted in the cities of San Francisco and Oakland and was populated with 64,855 examinees. All of the examinees in the study had been a part of the Kaiser Permanent multiphase health checkup between 1979 - 1985 and were between the ages of 15 to 49 years old. These examinees completed questionnaires about marijuana and tobacco habits. Follow-ups were conducted through 1993.
The results? The study suggests that for both groups (users & non-users) there is little correlation between marijuana use and an increased risk of cancer in both cities (San Francisco & Oakland).
What does this mean? This means that the study found that there was NO increased risk for cancer in either the non-users or the examinees. Also, there was no association found between marijuana and tobacco related cancers or these other types: lung, cervix, breast, melanoma, colorectal and prostate. However, as stated at the start of this myth about marijuana, both tobacco and marijuana contain carcinogens and irritants.
In addition to the evidence discussed above, a second study conducted in 2006, presented by researcher Donald Tasking, MD at the The American Thoracic Society’s 102nd International Conference suggests that there is no link between even heavy use of marijuana and an increased risk for developing lung cancer.
These studies, as well as others still ongoing, continue to suggest that the common belief that there is a link between marijuana use and an increased risk of cancer seem to be nothing more than another marijuana myth.
Myths About Marijuana #2:
Marijuana Is A Gateway Drug
Clearly this is one of the more enduring myths. Prohibition advocates for decades have claimed that marijuana, even if it doesn't cause much harm, is still dangerous because it leads to the use of other harder drugs. Heroin, LSD, crystal meth and cocaine being the main hard drugs used when making this argument.
So... what is the truth? The truth is that while most users of cocaine, LSD and heroin have used marijuana previously, the majority of marijuana users have never used another drug in their life. Additionally, there lacks a statistical consistency between the use pattern of marijuana and the use pattern of other drugs.
In the 1060's & 1970's, heroin use declined while marijuana use increased. In the 1980's, while marijuana use was on the decline, heroin use stayed nearly the same. For LSD, the use rate has stayed virtually unchanged for the past 20 years while marijuana use rates continued to fluctuate. With regards to marijuana and cocaine use rates, marijuana was declining in use during the 1980's just as cocaine use was on the incline. Lately, marijuana has been on a slow increase while cocaine use has been on a decline.
The ever-changing nature of the statistical relationship between marijuana and other harder drugs indicates the absence of a causal link between the use of marijuana and the 'other' drugs. In plain english, please? OK. Here it is... There is no real evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug.
Myths About Marijuana #3
Marijuana Impairs Memory
This one is only a partial myth - technically true but very misleading. Marijuana is proven to impair your short-term memory while you are under it's effects. Use of marijuana causes a temporary change in thoughts, information processing as well as perceptions. However, once the effects wear off, so does the memory impairment.
In fact, studies have shown that information that was learned previously is easily reachable by participants under the influence of marijuana. However, it must also be stated that these same participants showed a diminished capacity to learn and recall new information (while stoned), but this capacity only lasted for the duration of the intoxication.
Many studies have also addressed the question of whether there are severe deficiencies in cognitive
function resulting from heavy marijuana use. These studies were performed on both humans and
monkeys. "Most reports have show that, while there are deficits in the performance of complex
tasks in long-term cannabis users, although there is little evidence that these are qualitatively or quantitatively more severe than those seen after acute drug use".
So, lets sum this up.. Basically, marijuana has carcinogens in the smoke that can harm you. When you are stoned, your memory can be impaired. When you are just stopping using marijuana, you may still experience a reduction in brain function. However, it seems that once you have gone through the "just stopping" phase, there are no long-term negative effects.
Myths About Marijuana #4
Marijuana Is More Potent Today Than In The Past
Myths About Marijuana #4. The general argument debunking this myth is that potency data since the 1980's has shown that there is no increase in the average THC content of marijuana. Combine that with the fact that the only people conducting potency testing back in the 1960's & 1970's were federal government employees... I think you get my point.
So, there it is. The marijuana of today is, on average, likely just as potent as it has been for the last few decades.
I would like to add, however, that as people get older and build a larger network of friends, their ability to find and obtain higher quality marijuana increases (quality is equated with potency by most marijuana users). Additionally, I live in an area of the US that has a very large number of indoor growers (hydroponics, dirt and aeroponic). Because of this, I have found the marijuana available to me in my home town to be of a higher quality than most other places in the world. My point being, that the availability of higher or lower potency marijuana is clearly affected by the geographic location of the user.
In conclusion, although regionally, some users may have access to marijuana with a very high THC content, studies have shown that the average potency of marijuana over the last few decades has not increased. And, even if it did, there is no proof that this, alone, would make the marijuana more dangerous.
Myths About Marijuana #5
Marijuana Laws Are Lenient
Myths About Marijuana #5. Many people believe that the marijuana laws are fairly relaxed. Few people are ever arrested and even fewer have to actually go to prison. It is also commonly believed that this (perceived) lenient regulation is the cause of the increased overall use of marijuana.
The above is a complete myth. In the US between 1991 & 1995, more than .5 million people were arrested for offences related to marijuana. 86% of these were arrests for possession. Currently, there are tens of thousands of people in prison for marijuana offences while an even greater proportion who get probation, sanctions, fines, property seized, their driver's license revoked or terminated from their job. Yet, despite all of these deterrents, marijuana continues to be available virtually world-wide. .
Myths About Marijuana #6
Marijuana Is Highly Addictive
Myths About Marijuana #6 Addictive! I've heard this one for years. 'They' like to proclaim that marijuana is highly addictive and therefore, very dangerous. Ha!
OK, let's look at america in general. Of all of the people that smoke marijuana in the USA, the majority of them only smoke marijuana occasionally. Less than one percent of the population smokes marijuana on a daily or a near-daily basis. Of that one percent of the population, only a very small percentage develop a dependence to marijuana. Many people who smoke large quantities of marijuana frequently, have no problems stopping once they decide to. Additionally, marijuana does not cause physical dependence and any noticed withdrawal symptoms will very likely be extremely mild.
Myths About Marijuana #7
Marijuana Has No Medicinal Value
Myths about marijuana such as this one just go to show the desperate measures to which opponents of medical marijuana will go in order to spread lies about the benefits of (or lack of) its use. It is commonly stated that there is no use for marijuana as there are safer more effective drugs available today. One of these drugs is a synthetic THC named Marinol. THC, as you likely know, is the primary active ingredient in marijuana.
The fact is, that marijuana has shown to be effective in: reducing nausea in cancer chemotherapy patients, stimulating the appetite of AIDS patients, and reduction of interoccular pressure for those with glaucoma. Evidence also exists showing marijuana to assist in the reduction of muscle spasticity for patients with neurological disorders. In addition to the above benefits, marijuana in a few of the States, has been legalized for medical purposes. The medical reasons (illnesses) that one must have in order to be eligible to receive medical marijuana vary from state to state.
See a list of the US Medical Marijuana States
Although MMJ is not legal in most states, millions of people use marijuana every day to self medicate. In doing so, these 'patients' risk not only fines and imprisonment, they also risk the loss of their job as well as the seizure of property.
Myths About Marijuana #8
Marijuana Has Been Proven To Be Harmful
Myths About Marijuana #8 Marijuana is bad for you! Back in the 1960's we used to think that smoking marijuana was completely harmless. Today, we know much more about just how bad marijuana is for you.
This is a total myth. The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse reviewed available scientific evidence in 1972 and found that "[l]ooking only at the effects on the individual, there, is little proven danger of physical or psychological harm from the experimental or intermittent use of the natural preparations of cannabis, including the resinous mixtures commonly used in this country" However, the above commission followed this up by saying that heavy users could 'experience psychological dependence and behavioral changes'. But, as we know from previous myths above, there is no evidence that heavy use causes the marijuana user any damage or other ill effects. 
Since 1972, thousands of studies have been conducted by hundreds of researchers on humans, cultures, and animals. None of these tests revealed anything significantly different from those findings of the 1972 Commission. In 1995, the British medical journal 'Lancet', looking at 30 years worth of scientific research, concluded that "the smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health".