Whether it’s your religious, right-wing aunt or the Attorney General of the United States, people love making unsubstantiated claims about marijuana. And unfortunately a large enough people in the population believe these myths to prevent cannabis legalization. But which lies are the most ridiculous? Here is a list of 10 of the biggest marijuana myths.
10. Smoking Marijuana Makes You Dumber
Many people love to argue that marijuana makes people stupider. A study from 2012 claimed that teenagers who used cannabis had an eight-point drop in their IQ later in life. However, many criticized that study for not controlling for various variables. Meanwhile, several studies made after that one have shown no link between marijuana use and IQ level.
9. Smoking Marijuana is Just as Bad or Worse For Your Lungs Than Cigarettes
Many organizations, such as the American Lung Association, claim that smoking marijuana is just as bad for your lungs as smoking cigarettes. Heck, some even claim it’s worse than cigarettes. However nearly every single scientific study on the issue has found little to no effect from marijuana on lung health. And that includes a giant study from UCLA that included thousands of subjects.
8. Legalized Marijuana Leads to More Crime and Violence
This myth is thanks to our good buddy Jeff Sessions. The Attorney General has repeatedly claimed that marijuana legalization led to increased violence and crime in those states. However, a simple examination of crime rates in Colorado, Washington and Oregon have shown that those claims are simply untrue.
7. Marijuana Legalization Leads to More Traffic Fatalities
Well, maybe marijuana legalization doesn’t lead to more crime. But it definitely leads to more traffic fatalities, or so says many anti-legalization advocates. Well, not really. Some studies show that using marijuana does not increase the risk of causing a car crash while driving. Others say that marijuana causes a slightly elevated risk for traffic accidents, but that it’s still safer than other situations such as driving with two or more people. And on top of that, states with legalized medical and recreational marijuana have not seen increases in traffic fatalities.
6. Marijuana Has No Medical Benefits
Earlier this year Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he’s dubious about marijuana having any medical benefits and that “maybe science will prove me wrong.” Well, unfortunately Jeff, it already has. Nearly every major scientific organization, including the National Academy of Sciences, has stated that marijuana has medical benefits and the government should legalize cannabis medicinally.
The classic “stoner” stereotype is an overweight person smoking a joint while playing video games and eating Doritos. And while that’s become an accepted view of marijuana users, science actually says that’s not the case. In fact, studies have found that people who use cannabis actually tend to be thinner, fitter and more active than people who do not.
4. Marijuana Hurts Your Memory
A common argument against marijuana claims that it causes memory loss in people. Not only is this untrue, it’s actually nearly the complete opposite. Studies have found that using THC can help people with traumatic memories deal with those events in less negative way. It’s one of the reasons many people want to allow military veterans with PTSD to use medical marijuana. Other studies show that marijuana is able to help combat against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, that actually lead to memory loss.
3. Marijuana Can Treat Glaucoma
Here’s a myth of something marijuana cannot do. Glaucoma is often cited as a condition that marijuana can help treat. And while some studies have shown that cannabis can have an effect on patients with the condition, it’s simply not powerful enough. Glaucoma, particularly after it’s earlier stages, needs to be tackled 24/7 with medications. To do that with marijuana, you’d need to be using cannabis the entire day. And even then, those treatments would not be nearly as effective compared to prescription medications for the condition.
2. Marijuana Is Addictive
Perhaps the longest-running myth is the idea that marijuana is addictive. Just a few years ago, a bogus study claimed that marijuana is more addictive than heroin. Addiction is a tricky term, and many people now use the word “dependence instead.” But study after study shows that it’s nearly impossible to become addicted to marijuana. And while it’s possible for people to become “dependent on it,” the number of people who do are far less than any other drug available, including alcohol, nicotine or even caffeine. And those studies also found that marijuana dependence is far safer and leads to almost no medical issues compared with the others.
1. Marijuana Is a Gateway Drug
This is the classic anti-marijuana argument. Since they can’t say the drug is addictive or causes negative medical side effects or really prove using marijuana is dangerous to people in any way, they claim it’s a “gateway drug” that leads to people using other more dangerous drugs. The problem is that the vast majority of marijuana users do not eventually use harder drugs, and when controlled for other factors, it’s shown to have no effect on the likelihood of a person using different substances. In fact, there are studies that’ve shown marijuana’s actually effective at getting people off of hard drugs.