Marijuana Myths Debunked

Adolescents have difficulty telling fact from fiction. Here are some of the most common myths teens believe.

Khadija Ahmed, Staff Writer

MYTH: It is safe to drive after using cannabis.

Fact: According to Casa Palmera treatment center, marijuana significantly impairs judgement, motor coordination and reaction time. As a result, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that marijuana is the most frequently found drug in the blood system of drivers who were involved in vehicle crashes. Although there are clear negative effects on a number of skills needed for safe driving, there is a state level but no national legal limit for marijuana impairment while operating a vehicle. If you intend to drive, the safest option is to never have any drugs in your system at all, ensuring the safety yourself and others around you.


MYTH: Natural drugs are safer than synthetic ones.

Fact: Natural highs, such as marijuana and mushrooms, alter brain chemistry and are associated with dangerous side effects. They can interfere with thinking, memory and lower one’s IQ. Moreover, mushrooms contain psilocybin which causes hallucinogenic effects that can entail changes to a person’s perception of color, sound, and light. The ramification of a natural drug is just as severe as that of a synthetic drug. Hence, a drug being natural does not translate to it being safer.


MYTH: Drugs relieve stress. They help deal with problems.

Fact: Teenagers who use weed daily actually have increased rates of depression, anxiety, and psychosis (losing connection with reality by seeing and/or hearing things that don’t exist). Smoking weed can worsen your problems instead of solving them by triggering the onset of schizophrenia and other psychoses in those already at risk of developing it. Cannabis Information and Support says that without access to sophisticated lab equipment, there is no way to measure how much THC (the chemical compound in cannabis responsible for a euphoric high) or CBD (non psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis that accounts for 40% of the plant’s extract) is in each dose of cannabis smoked. THC stimulates areas of the brain responsible for feelings of fear which of course, is counterproductive in trying to relieve stress.


MYTH: Marijuana isn’t as bad for you as cigarettes.

Fact: This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, Daily Mail reports that marijuana smoke has more cancer causing chemicals than tobacco. Additionally, Herb reports that long term cannabis smoke is related to an increased risk of periodontal disease, possibly due to the irritating effects of hot smoke on the gums. Cannabis smoke can also cause damage to large airways due to hot, burning plant matter being inhaled according to Herb. Bronchitis symptoms may be caused by regularly inhaling cannabis smoke as well. A 2016 rodent study revealed that one minute of exposure to second hand cannabis smoke caused harm to blood vessels which means a similar effect to humans since they have similar blood vessels to rodents.


MYTH: You can’t get addicted to something your doctor prescribes.

Fact: Although many medications are perfectly safe if prescribed dosages are heeded, prolonged use can be dangerously addictive and even fatal. In fact, Business Insider reports that prescription pain relievers like Vicodin and OxyContin have caused more deaths by overdose than heroin and cocaine combined. Prescription opioid abuse has become a national epidemic in recent years. To illustrate, the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers has more than quadrupled since 1999. This has proven to be a serious global problem that affects the health, social, and economic welfare of all societies. Additionally in states where medicinal marijuana is legalized, it is possible to grow addicted to it even under medical guidance.


MYTH: Addicts are bad, crazy, or stupid.

Fact: Although someone may have chosen to use a substance initially, they did not choose to experience the addiction that follows. Addicts are victims and their potential for addiction has been affected by genetics, environmental factors, developmental factors (family upbringing and past trauma) and psychological and personality factors. Drug addiction is a serious illness and like any illness, addicts need to undergo a treatment to get better. Receiving blame may only result in addicts seeing a justification for further substance abuse, and accepting a multitude of negative emotions that prevent them from thinking clearly. Blame will never benefit anybody so it’s more important to support one another in the aspiration of putting an end to substance abuse.