Whatever you call it, the marijuana plant has secured a place in the hearts and lives of most Americans, as well as our history. With it comes a whole boatload of rumors and myths – some good and some bad.
This has kinda been itching me for a while, so today I will break down a whopping 54 of these myths and debunk them once and for all.
Myth #1 – Marijuana: The “Gateway” Drug
Man, this one has been around forever, and people still believe it. Even the suits in Washington have come out and gone on the record by saying it wasn’t true. The reality is that the first type of drugs that most people come across are actually alcohol and tobacco. Stick this myth in your pipe and smoke it DC.
Myth #2 – Vaporizers are Just as Harmful as Joints
With the popularity of marijuana came the invention of the vaporizer. These smoke devices heat up the marijuana to extremely hot degrees and turn it into vapor instead of smoke. Because of this, most of the harmful chemicals we inhale from burning marijuana are non-existent and lead some health experts to agree that vaping is a healthy way to smoke marijuana.
Myth #3 – Stoners are Just Lazy
Thanks to movies like Up in Smoke, Half Baked and Harold & Kumar, the world has this idea that smoking weed automatically makes you unmotivated and lazy. There are just too many successful potheads to name them all, but I cam safely say they are in entertainment, business and even politics (yea, I’m looking at you Obama!).
Myth #4 – We Know What a Stoner Looks Like
This one kind of goes along with #3. Movies have only helped promote the typical stoner look. The truth is, since there are smokers in every type of business and profession, there is an endless supply of stoner looks.
Myth #5 – Driving High is as Bad as Driving Drunk
Pounding a few beers and driving home is a pretty dumb idea, everyone knows that. What about smoking a J and hitting the open road? While it may not be the smartest move, there is nothing proving that driving stoned is even remotely as bad as driving drunk. There have been studies and experiments that actually prove there is very little evidence to support this ridiculous idea.
Myth #6 – No Proof of Marijuana’s Medicinal Value
You can’t get into any lively debate (or straight up argument) about legalizing weed without some moron saying, “Where is the proof medical marijuana works?” That is the problem with the debate over marijuana these days. Too many people are simply ill informed of the real information out there. In 1999 the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine issued a White House sponsored report verifying the medicinal uses of marijuana.
Myth #7 – Cannabis Causes Cell Damage
Another health related myth seemingly created just to scare people. Science has shown this to not be the case at all.
Myth #8 – Marijuana Damages the Brain
In 1974, Dr. Robert Heath set up an experiment in which marijuana smoke was pumped into monkeys, and then their brains were examined. His findings were that the monkeys had brain damage as a result of the marijuana smoke. In reality, they had brain damage because they were not receiving enough oxygen to their brain, and had nothing to do with the marijuana smoke itself. Our great American government knew about the original marijuana monkey study results and the truth behind it, and not until more recently did they finally come out and admit they had lied to us for years
Myth #9 – Marijuana Reform is Politically Risky
How many of you actually think about politics and the slimy bastards that run our country when you back your bong or vape? Not too many I’m guessing. Don’t worry, I don’t either, but there are reasons to think about these things sometimes. It is up to these people whether we see an end to marijuana prohibition or not; and we are the ones that vote for these people and tells them what to do. When those who are meant to represent you tell you they cannot support marijuana, be sure to remind them about all of the polls and surveys that are confirming a majority of Americans support legalization of marijuana.
Myth #10 – Marijuana Leads to a Life of Crime
What we have here is a case of which came first – the crime or the weed? It is very true that a lot of criminals smoke marijuana daily, but there is no evidence stating that the marijuana causes this criminal behavior. Since marijuana is still a highly illegal drug in most of the country (and world), yet still very readily available to anyone, it is no surprise that those in a life of crime will turn to this easy and inexpensive illegal drug.
Myth #11 – Marijuana is Non-Addictive
What do you define as addiction? That is the question this marijuana myth is really asking. While we have been told by pro-marijuana supporters that weed is not addictive, they have been wrong, or rather living in a weird grey limbo area. While you will not see stoners begging for change to score their next fix, regular users will go through some minor withdrawal symptoms. These include things as loss of appetite, insomnia and irritability, but they usually do not last long. This addiction to marijuana is akin to caffeine addiction. It is more the habit and not so much a physical addiction.
Myth #12 – Smoking Weed Causes Lung Cancer
Against what most people would consider common sense, smoking ganja does not give you lung cancer. I’m not telling you guys that smoking weed is healthy or something, and it does come with some risks. Things like respiratory issues and other breathing type illnesses can be increased by smoking weed. Now if you are smart and decide to go the edibles route, then these risks are dropped down to zero.
Myth #13 – All Weed is Bad for Children
I’m not telling you to let your little one toke up with you after preschool, but there are high CBD strains made into oils that are given to children that can help with severe health issues.
Myth #14 – Teen Use has Increased in Medical Use States
People who are against the inevitable legalization of marijuana like to claim that weed will poison our country’s youth and create a generation of drug users. Contrary to this doom and gloom outlook, recent studies are showing that medical marijuana states are not dealing with a wave of young potheads.
Myth #15 – Marijuana Will Make you Crazy
Weed will probably make you crazy hungry or even crazy tired, but in complete contrast to the Reefer Madness people out there, marijuana will not drive you insane. A recent Harvard study shows that there is no connection between marijuana use and psychosis. What other studies are finding are that there are some brain changes in marijuana users that began smoking at a young age. The problem here is figuring out whether these brain changes were already present before smoking weed or not.
Myth #16 – Marijuana is Guaranteed to Wreck Your Immune System
Again we have people just trying to strike fear into the sheep of the world. There has been evidence that the sticky icky can have an effect on immune cells and even that marijuana use definitely effects the immune system in general, nobody is sure yet exactly what these effects have on us.
Myth #17 – Hemp and Marijuana are the Same
Even though hippies love both, hemp and marijuana are not the same thing. Sure, they both come from the same family, but are you and your crazy brother the same person? Hemp is a version of the cannabis plant that has almost no THC; and as we all know, that is what gets you high. So what is the point of growing this plant? Hemp can be used to create many different products – everything from paper and rope to clothing and oils. It is because hemp can do all this for a fraction of the cost, that Corporate America has a hand in lobbying against the legalization of marijuana on any level.
Myth #18 – Marijuana Cures Illnesses
Weed is great at helping relieve a lot of symptoms, but is not actually shown to cure and of them. Patients dealing with things such as cancer and glaucoma have symptoms that are greatly affected and eased by the use of marijuana, but there is no proof that these are cured in these patients. In the case of glaucoma patients, evidence tends to show that FDA approved drugs on the market work just as well or better than marijuana.
Myth #19 – Marijuana Prohibition is Working
Those who want to keep marijuana illegal would love to have us all believe that marijuana prohibition is working to keep us all safe from this vile little plant. Too bad they do not have the proof to back it up. Looking at the Netherlands and their laid back drug laws versus America and our much stricter laws, it appears that the number of users (and abusers) is about the same. If marijuana prohibition was working, we should see a lower amount of users in the States.
Myth #20 – The War on Drugs is Working
The War on Drugs is costing, as in costing us a lot of money and hassle. Want to know how to save over $8 billion a year? Legal weed across the board. According to one Harvard economist, that is how much money would be saved between the states and the federal government by legalization the plant.
Myth #21 – Pot Users in Rehab
Ok, this one isn’t really a myth. There are a lot of marijuana users in rehabs across the country. Instead of looking at that, let’s look at how these “drug addicts” got there. In an overwhelming majority of the cases, a judge has handed down an ultimatum – go to rehab or go to jail. Hell, I would jump at rehab any day before jail. Among all of the marijuana addicts in rehab, over half of them smoked pot once and month. Think there are many crackheads that smoke crack once a month?
Myth #22 – Feeding Marijuana to Livestock will Fatten Them Up
Up in Washington State, a farmer began feeding marijuana to his pigs to help add some flavor and give them the munchies so they will fatten up better. I know, this sounds stupid to most of us, and it is.
Myth #23 – Urinalysis Drug Testing Helps Employers
Drug tests are pointless efforts to curb drugs in the workplace. Most hard drugs re in and out of your system within a few days or so, but our friend Mary Jane likes to hang out for much longer. When you piss in a cup for your boss, unless you did a line of coke for breakfast, there is a good chance any use wouldn’t show up. Did you smoke a joint after work last week? I guess it is time to start looking for a new job. An ACLU study found that drug testing was not beneficial to employers, while many other studies have found it to be an unnecessary cost that doesn’t save a lot of money.
Myth #24 – Effects Can Last for Weeks
This one is not very common, but man have I heard it more than once. As I have said earlier, THC will stay in your system for awhile, making it the perfect drug for urine drug tests. This does not mean the effects of marijuana will last for that long. The high from marijuana last 2-4 hours typically, but could last up to 6 hours if you score some really good green.
Myth #25 – Marijuana Causes Birth Defects
Unless you are completely ignorant, you know that taking any drugs while pregnant is never a good idea. The worst drug you can regularly take while pregnant is alcohol, but many drugs carry certain risk, and marijuana is no exception to this rule. The effects on babies tend to be lower birth weight, irritability and other ‘minor’ health problems, but no birth defects ever reported or found in studies. Still, just stop smoking for ten months. Isn’t it worth it?
Myth #26 – Marijuana Ruins Your Memory
What were we just talking about? The famous image of the forgetful stoner may not be as true as we once thought. It is common sense by now that weed affects a user’s short term memory, but as for any permanent long term damage, there has been no scientific link found.
Myth #27 – Pot Impairs Learning Ability
Pot impairs short term memory, that is the real issue here. Studies showing that extended heavy use may have a negative effect on learning abilities have been mixed with this bit of short term memory knowledge to strike fear in the minds of parents and anti-marijuana activists. Any sign of possible learning ability loss was temporary, subtle and minimal in a very small percentage of heavy users. Alcohol continues to be the number one causer of learning impairment among all drugs.
Myth #28 – Weed Will ‘Flatten’ Brain Waves
Well that doesn’t sound like a good thing at all. Good thing it is a blatant lie. Years ago, the Partnership for a Drug Free America began running an ad that compared ‘normal’ brain waves with that of a teen marijuana user’s brain waves. The user’s brain waves appeared flattened, lending to the belief that marijuana causes brain damage. When complaints came into television stations about the commercial, the ad was pulled and it was later released that the user’s brain waves were faked for the commercial.
Myth #29 – Past Presidents and Mary Jane
There have been numerous quotes, actions and thoughts attributed to past American Presidents when it comes to marijuana. Images of Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson smoking J’s on their verandas tend to pop into one’s mind when discussing these past politicians. It is true that marijuana and hemp have been an important part of this country’s history, but not every former president enjoyed marijuana.
Myth #30 – Marijuana Causes High Blood Pressure
Another number one our list that is just an over exaggeration. When you first smoke, marijuana will temporarily increase your blood pressure and heart rate. This is only temporary and over the long haul, smoking marijuana may help lower blood pressure slightly.
Myth #31 – All of the Clocks in Pulp Fiction Were Set to 4:20
No, they weren’t. This one is just a fun little pop culture tidbit I threw in to see if you were still paying attention.
Myth #32 – Marijuana Has Never Killed Anyone
Marijuana has never outright pulled the trigger on someone’s life, but it has been at the root of many accidents. What workers see in emergency rooms and trauma units is many marijuana related accidents, some of them even fatal, caused by falls and such. So while it is true that no one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana, it is not true that no one has ever died from marijuana.
Myth #33 – Government Anti-Pot Ads Work
Quite the opposite effect seems to have been had from the rash of anti-pot ads our government shows us. A study in 2009 actually showed that after viewing government anti-drug ads, the majority of viewers were less affected by scenes of marijuana use and depiction.
Myth #34 – Marijuana is Legal in Holland
This one falls into a weird gray area. Weed is not actually legal, but since the mid-70’s, the government has just not enforced the laws for small amounts of green and coffee shops. As a big screw you to the shop owners, it is also illegal for them to purchase the smoke they sell in their shops.
Myth #35 – Edibles Will Give Users a Stronger High
Eating your weed will not give you a stronger high, but ingesting edibles will give you a longer lasting high with a different feel to it. This is due to the way the THC works its way through your system. These highs can last up to ten hours, so make sure you plan your day accordingly if you plan on a green lunch today.
Myth #36 – Weed Mellows Everyone Out
It’s true that many of use marijuana to help relax and relive some stress after a long day. In some users though, this is not the case. There are few users that experience high levels of anxiety or paranoia while high. While this is not the case for everyone, to be fair, I felt it important to include this one on this ultimate marijuana myth list.
Myth #37 – Marijuana Lowers Testosterone and Sperm Count
As a high school kid, I had often heard this one. Being the pre-internet age, I had no easy to look it up and just hoped it wasn’t true. Years later, science has determined that it is simply not the case. Heavy chronic users can see a reversible effect on testicular function, but no permanent damage.
Myth #38 – Weed is a Plant, So It’s Safe
We have already established that weed is not completely safe, but much safer compared to other illegal and legal drugs available. This myth, primarily found in teen circles, is an obvious falsehood. Just because something comes from a plant, does not make it instantly healthy or safe for humans.
Myth #39 – The Government Strain
Since the 60’s there has been rumored to be a special G-13 strain of weed grown and introduced by the American government, While there is a g-13 strain, it was never grown by the government, though was probably smoked by more than few politicians.
Myth #40 – The Constitution was Written on Hemp
Almost any stoner will tell you that both The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written on hemp paper. These stoners would be wrong. More likely, early drafts of both documents were written on hemp paper, as it was widely distributed and used at the time, but the final versions were actually written on vellum.
Myth #41 – Minorities Abuse the Medical Marijuana System
This myth is both very wrong and very racist. Claiming that legalizing weed for any reason will cause more minorities to use came from anti-pot activists calling for safer streets. As more states legalize medical marijuana, it comes clear that this is not the case. The majority of medical marijuana patients are white males while the clinical reports and demographics have been interesting to say the least.
Myth #42 – Ford Created an All Hemp Car
No, Henry Ford did not create the weed van from Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke. As rumor has it, he created a prototype vehicle made mostly out of hemp plastics. In truth, the prototype contained less than 50% of hemp material.
Myth #43 – Most People Arrested for Marijuana are Dealers
Yes, let’s keep marijuana illegal to help clean our streets of the filthy weed pushers. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works in the real world. In the United States, we have over 750,000 people arrested for marijuana related crimes each year. That’s a lot of dealers off the streets, right? Nope. Instead we have most of these arrests being for simple possession charges.
Myth #44 – Marijuana Contains 1000’s of Dangerous Chemicals
When you light up that joint, you are inhaling thousands of different chemicals, much like a cigarette smoker. Are all of these dangerous? No, of course not. Coffee has been said to contain 800 different chemicals, most of which have never been tested on humans and have been shown to cause cancer in lab rats.
Myth #45 – 420
This calling to all pot smokers to toke up has become a unifying sign among us marijuana users. The rumors surrounding where 420 came from and what it truly means are plentiful. According to Snopes.com, 420 began as a reference between a group of a dozen high school kids as to when to meet to get high. Then it just caught on.
Myth #46 – Marijuana is a Lower Class Problem
It is easy for people to think this since there is such great disparity in arrests between the rich and the poor, but this is not the case. First off, responsible marijuana use is not a problem. Secondly, tokers come in all social and economic levels.
Myth #47 – Government Supplied Weed is Good for Research
Yes, the American government grows the icky sticky, but they do not sell it or even give it out as bonuses to employees (Best. Bonus. Ever!). Any weed that is used in medical research comes from the same source at the University of Mississippi. This may not be great for research as plants come from a variety of sources in the real world.
Myth #48 – Legalizing Weed Leads to Legalizing Harder Drugs
According to a CNN poll, this does not appear to be the case. While more and more Americans favor legalizing weed, about 4% want to legalize harder drugs.
Myth #49 – Smoking Weed Will Shorten Your Life
As I have said many times, smoking weed is not completely harm free. This study shows that there is no mortality rate difference between toking and non-toking adult males.
Myth #50 – 1 Joint = 1 Pack
We have all heard growing up, and even sometimes today, that smoking one joint is like smoking an entire pack of cigarettes. Whoa! That must mean lung cancer runs rampant in pot smokers (see #12). This began as a study back in the old days (around 1980). The study mentions that weed smokers get respiratory blockage similar to a smoker of 16 smokes a day. The media ran with this but failed to add in the many other factors that contributed to lung health, making the “1 = 16” comparison utterly wrong.
Myth #51 – Most People Have Never Tried Marijuana
Many recent polls and surveys actually have the numbers at almost 50/50 for those that have and have not tried marijuana. This is not the same as those actively smoking or heavily smoking.
Myth #52 – We Smoke Super Weed
Super Weed sounds like something from a Bluntman & Chronic comic, but the anti-marijuana side wants us to believe that today’s green is a lot more potent than the weed of their day. Unfortunately, that is not the true case. While miracles in science have increased the potency of modern marijuana, it has been by about 7%, and that is being generous.
Myth #53 – Prisons are Full of Marijuana Arrests
As I said earlier, while there are over 750,000 marijuana arrests each year in America. the next steps vary greatly depending on state of the arrest. The final results show that approximately 20,000 inmates are in for marijuana charges alone, and when you calculate that up, that comes out to less than 3% for marijuana alone.
Myth #54 – Marijuana is a Dangerous Drug
There have been more studies than I can even think of right now that have verified that weed is safer than both alcohol and cigarettes. Yet there are still groups of people who claim that marijuana is a dangerous drug that should be eradicated from the planet (usually at a hefty cost to us tax payers). What they don’t tell you is that there is no proof of this at all. There are cases of marijuana ruining lives, but these are few and far between and generally include other circumstances.
So as you can see, the Great Plant has had more than its fair share of myths in its long history.
Even though some will always be based on opinion and dipped in controversy, there’s no cracking the ones that have been backed up by research, facts, and testimonials from real people that have been in the trenches of experimentation.
While I’m not saying to go out and become a pothead, one of the best things that you can do is to dig around and do your own research so you can make your own decision as to what you think is real and what is just crap floating at the top.
In the end, the proof is in the pudding, amigos.