Marijuana has been the most popular illicit drug in the United States for decades. There are a lot of debates about the safety, science, and legalization of marijuana, but these debates often include both truths and misconceptions as well.
There are a lot of misconceptions about marijuana and sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between the truth and false claims, so here’s a list of 5 common myths about marijuana and the facts that debunk them:
- Myth: Marijuana Is Harmless
Cannabis can lead to physical, psychological, and even behavioral health problems. The THC in cannabis produces its euphoric effects, but it can also lead to some harmful reactions.
Marijuana can have a negative effect on breathing and it can cause complications in pregnancies, anxiety, hallucinations, and delusions. Marijuana has also been known to worsen mental health disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.
Cannabis has long-term effects on the brain and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there have been studies that showed a link between marijuana use in adolescence and problems with learning, memory, and impulse control later in life.
- Myth: Marijuana Is Not Addictive
Research has shown that marijuana is in fact addictive; it causes people to compulsively seek the drug despite the health, social, and legal consequences it may have. According to NIDA, an average of up to 30% of marijuana users develop a substance use disorder.
Studies have also shown that people who use marijuana in their teenage years are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder as adults. Those who are addicted and try quitting may experience withdrawal symptoms that include sleeplessness, cravings, and anxiety.
- Myth: Legalization Will Help Curb the Opioid Epidemic
Many people believe that by legalizing marijuana, opioids will be replaced in treating chronic pain. However, there is little evidence to support the fact that increased access to medical cannabis results in a reduction in deaths from opioid abuse.
In a 2018 study, researchers argued that it is premature to recommend expanding access to medical marijuana in the US and Canada as a means to reduce the risk of opioid overdose. Wayne Hall, the lead author, said “There is very weak evidence to support the claim that expanding access to medical cannabis will reduce opioid overdose deaths in the United States.”
- Myth: Marijuana Is Not as Harmful as Cigarettes
Everyone agrees that inhaling smoke harms your lungs. Smoking marijuana can lead to lung complications, as well as breathing problems. The American Lung Associations claims that marijuana contains some of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as those found in tobacco smoke.
In some cases, marijuana can actually be more harmful than tobacco, as smokers tend to inhale the drug more deeply and hold the smoke in their lungs for longer, which increases exposure to the toxins found in marijuana.
- Myth: It’s Safer to Drive High Than Driving Drunk
Whether you are high on marijuana or drunk, your driving skills will be negatively affected. Cannabis can have a severe impact on coordination, judgement, and reaction time – all factors that influence your ability to drive.
Studies have shown that after using marijuana, your risk of being involved in a vehicular accident increases, sometimes twofold.
There is no doubt that marijuana can be dangerous; it can cause a wide range of health, social, and legal problems. There are many myths about cannabis that portray it as harmless, but it is important to know that there are risks to using it and what those risks are.