Marijuana Myths

1. Marijuana Causes Brain Damage

Studies of human populations of marijuana users have shown no evidence of brain damage. For example, two studies from 1977, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed no evidence of brain damage in heavy users of marijuana.

That same year, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially came out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. That’s not the sort of thing you’d expect if the AMA thought marijuana damaged the brain.

2. Marijuana Damages The Reproductive System

Studies of actual human populations have failed to demonstrate that marijuana adversely affects the reproductive system.

3. Marijuana Is A “Gateway” Drug It Leads To Hard Drugs

This is one of the more persistent myths. A real world example of what happens when marijuana is readily available can be found in Holland.

The Dutch partially legalized marijuana in the 1970s. Since then, hard drug use, heroin and cocaine, have declined substantially. If marijuana really were a gateway drug, one would have expected use of hard drugs to have gone up, not down.

This apparent “negative gateway” effect has also been observed in the United States. Studies done in the early 1970s showed a negative correlation between use of marijuana and use of alcohol.

A 1993 Rand Corporation study that compared drug use in states that had decriminalized marijuana versus those that had not, found that where marijuana was more available, the states that had decriminalized, hard drug abuse as measured by emergency room episodes decreased.

In short, what science and actual experience tell us is that marijuana tends to substitute for the much more dangerous hard drugs like alcohol, cocaine, and heroin.

4. Marijuana Suppresses The Immune System

Interestingly, two studies done in 1978 and one done in 1988 showed that hashish and marijuana may have actually stimulated the immune system in the people studied.

5. Marijuana Is Much More Dangerous Than Tobacco

Smoked marijuana contains about the same amount of carcinogens as does an equivalent amount of tobacco. It should be remembered, however, that a heavy tobacco smoker consumes much more tobacco than a heavy marijuana smoker consumes marijuana.

If marijuana were legal, it would be more economical to have cannabis food and drinks, which are totally non-carcinogenic. This is in stark contrast with “smokeless” tobacco products like snuff which can cause cancer of the mouth and throat.

6. Legal Marijuana Would Cause Carnage On The Highways

Although marijuana, when used to intoxication, does impair performance in a manner similar to alcohol, actual studies of the effect of marijuana on the automobile accident rate suggest that it poses less of a hazard than alcohol.

When a random sample of fatal accident victims was studied, it was initially found that marijuana was associated with relatively as many accidents as alcohol.

In other words, the number of accident victims intoxicated on marijuana relative to the number of marijuana users in society gave a ratio similar to that for accident victims intoxicated on alcohol relative to the total number of alcohol users.

However, a closer examination of the victims revealed that around 85% of the people intoxicated on marijuana were also intoxicated on alcohol.

For people only intoxicated on marijuana, the rate was much lower than for alcohol alone. This finding has been supported by other research using completely different methods.

For example, an economic analysis of the effects of decriminalization on marijuana usage found that states that had reduced penalties for marijuana possession experienced a rise in marijuana use and a decline in alcohol use with the result that fatal highway accidents decreased.

7. Marijuana “Flattens” Human Brain Waves

This is an out-and-out lie perpetrated by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. A few years ago, they ran a TV ad that purported to show, first, a normal human brain wave, and second, a flat brain wave from a 14-year-old “on marijuana”.

When researchers called up the TV networks to complain about this commercial, the Partnership had to pull it from the air. It seems that the Partnership faked the flat “marijuana brainwave”.

In reality, marijuana has the effect of slightly increasing alpha wave activity. Alpha waves are associated with meditative and relaxed states which are, in turn, often associated with human creativity.

8. Marijuana Is More Potent Today Than In The Past

This is not a myth, on average the THC content of marijuana tested from 2000-2005 was about two to three times as high as it was in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

9. Marijuana Impairs Short Term Memory

This is true but misleading. Any impairment of short-term memory disappears when one is no longer under the influence of marijuana.

Often, the short-term memory effect is paired with a reference to Dr. Heath’s poor rhesus monkeys to imply that the condition is permanent.

10. Marijuana Lingers In The Body Like DDT

This is also true but misleading. Cannabinoids are fat soluble as are innumerable nutrients (like Vitamin A) and, yes, some poisons like DDT.

11. There Are Over A Thousand Chemicals In Marijuana Smoke

Again, true but misleading. The 31 August 1990 issue of the magazine Science notes that there are over 800 volatile chemicals present in roasted coffee.

12. No One Has Ever Died Of A Marijuana Overdose

This is true. Scientists have conclude that the ratio of the amount of cannabinoids necessary to get a person intoxicated (i.e., stoned) relative to the amount necessary to kill them is 1 to 40,000. You would have to consume 40,000 times as much marijuana as you needed to get stoned.

In contrast, the ratio for alcohol varies between 1 to 4 and 1 to 10. It is easy to see how upwards of 5,000 people die from alcohol overdoses every year, and no one ever dies of marijuana overdoses.

Info from the ICLU Drug Task Force.

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union (ICLU) Drug Task Force is involved in education and lobbying efforts directed toward reforming drug policy.

Specifically, we support ACLU Policy Statement number 210 which calls for the legalization of marijuana.

We also support an end to the drug war. In its place, we favor “harm reduction” strategies which treat drug abuse as what it is, a medical problem, rather than a criminal justice problem.

The Drug Task Force also works to end urine and hair testing of workers by private industry.

These kinds of tests violate worker privacy to no good purpose because they detect past use of certain drugs (mostly marijuana) while ignoring others (e.g., LSD) and cannot detect current impairment.

In situations where public and worker safety is a legitimate concern, we advocate impairment testing devices which reliably detect degradation of performance without infringing upon worker privacy.


Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts:
A Review Of The Scientific Evidence

You might want to read this if you are interested in marijuana, or want to discuss marijuana with your kids, but do not have enough facts to begin.

This is not propaganda put out by anti-drug crusaders, it is a scientific study of the facts. If you need to talk to your children about marijuana, and have them respect your opinion, get the facts, not the hype.

Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts

Reefer Madness:
The History of Marijuana in America

Reefer Madness is the authors reply to the movie of the same name. But this is an honest version of the social history of marijuana use in America.

Beginning with the hemp farming of George Washington, author traces the fascinating story of our nation’s love-hate relationship with the resilient weed we know as marijuana.

Reefer Madness

The Emperor Wears No Clothes:
The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis
and the Conspiracy Against Marijuana

Probably the best book around about the history, uses, and war on this plant. Over 300 pages of text, photos, illustrations and charts.

This book has been an eye opener to me and everyone else I know that has read it. You would be hard pressed to find a more complete source for information relating to the suppression of the hemp industry in the United States.

The Emperor Wears No Clothes

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Legal Bud