Myths! vs. facts

The most interesting thing about a myth is perhaps the discovery that we once accepted it as fact.  Beyond that, the most interesting thing about a myth is its origin, so we tried to compile as much information as we thought people would be willing to read/watch while going through the site, making sure to include the root of the various folklore, and who we can thank, if possible.  Happy mythbusting.

MYTHS! vs. facts



fact:  The following is a clip from "The Union", that sheds a light on where this myth came from:  1:31 Clip

For those of you who prefer not to watch, Dr. Robert G. Heath of Tulane University in New Orleans, LA (more about him here), was approached by then California Governor Ronald Reagan, to investigate marijuana’s negative effects on the brain.  The following is a good synopsis of Heath’s study, which was found here:

“It was later discovered that the actual study conducted by Dr. Heath involved strapping Rhesus monkeys into a chair and pumping them with equivalent of 63 Colombian-strength joints in five minutes! This was inhaled through a gas mask so that none of the smoke was lost. At that smoke concentration, the monkeys were being treated like a person locked in a garage with the car engine left running for five, 10, 15 minutes at a time every day!  Therefore, in reality, the Heath Monkey study was actually a study in animal asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning. (Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that kills brain cells, and is given off by any burning object.) Of course carbon monoxide poisoning and other factors were completely left out of the results and were not considered to play a role in the experiment.”



fact:  Great clip from “The Culture High”:  (8:50 - 12:01 Clip)

This is probably the most pernicious myth, and it’s understandable that it has stood the testament of time given how long this mythology has been around spreading wildly in the 1930's thanks toYellow Journalism”, racism, and the fact that the DEA doesn’t distinguish marijuana from heroin Schedule I and governmental leadership can’t properly answer simple questions on the subject as evidenced here, and here.  

Essentially, yes, you can become psychologically “dependent” upon marijuana, but there is no agonizing physical addiction, and as far as the low incidence of marijuana dependence, “...that health problem is far less significant than for other substances, legal and illegal. The Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, said in a 1999 study that 32 percent of tobacco users become dependent, as do 23 percent of heroin users, 17 percent of cocaine users, and 15 percent of alcohol drinkers. But only 9 percent of marijuana users develop a dependence.

“Although few marijuana users develop dependence, some do,” according to the study. “But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.” New York Times Article

You can’t overdose and die from marijuana either as discussed by Howcast: Clip 3:25



fact:  This is one of the most common myths, and it really is best just to watch this clip (From 6:15 - 8:49  Clip)  from “The Culture High”.

No, it doesn’t appear this is the case.  Referencing the many experts in the clip above:  Schizophrenia has a certain prevalence throughout the world of about 1%.  Marijuana use since the 60’s has steadily grown, and yet there has never been an increase in this prevalence.  Not even a little blip, which we should see.  In certain studies it has been found that perhaps someone who was always destined to become schizophrenic may become so earlier than they would have were it not for a “precipitating event”, such as a difficult personal loss, a bad alcohol trip, a bad experience with an array of other drugs or life experience in general, and yes, sometimes people can have a bad marijuana experience, which can end up serving as their precipitating event.  



fact: Here is another clip from "The Union" that explains where this one came from: 1:07 Clip

For those of you who prefer not to watch, the basis for this myth is a 1999 Study from the Institute of Medicine, paid for by the U.S. Government.  Scientists had to use studies like “may” or “should” cause cancer.  They could not and have not since this study found one single case where marijuana is the cause of lung cancer.  Smoking on the other hand...From the CDC: “Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including nearly 42,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.”



fact: 2006-  “More than 60% of the cartel’s revenue -- $8.6 billion out of $13.8 billion in 2006 -- came from U.S. marijuana sales, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.” Washington Post Article

2014-  "Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90," a Mexican marijuana grower told NPR news in December 2014. "But now they're paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It's a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they'll run us into the ground."

2015-  Given that, given the latest data to come out from the U.S. Border Patrol for Fiscal Year 2015 Direct Link, agents seized almost 1.5 million pounds of marijuana at the border, down from a peak of nearly 4 million pounds in 2009.



fact:  There is no verified evidence that marijuana use causes neurocognitive decline. The article that follows goes into greater detail: Washington Post Article



fact:  This is one of the earliest myths we have on record, beginning with head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (which later became the Drug Enforcement Agency), Harry J. Anslinger, when he referred to marijuana as being a “stepping-stone” to opioids (opiates).

There is no “gateway drug”.  Continuing on with this falsehood is harming children because we aren’t placing the necessary weight on their life circumstances, their personal choices, and how we guide them as their elders.  “As Miriam Boeri, an association professor of sociology at Bentley University points out, poverty, mental illness, and friend groups are all much stronger predictors of drug use.” (Conversation Link)

If we are going to use the “Gateway Drug” Fallacy, the drug to focus on is alcohol. “The people behind Treatment4Addiction, a website for finding addiction treatment, recently parsed the data from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health to see which drugs people tried right before and after they started using a given narcotic...Alcohol, meanwhile, is most users’ first drug, with 88 percent having never tried another substance before they started drinking.” Link to The Atlantic Article



fact:  No scientific evidence supports the claim that marijuana causes gynecomastia.  In fact, it was refuted in 1977 and again in 1983.



fact:  This is another early myth from the Anslinger days...the “Marijuana Menace”, and the “Killer Weed” that brings on Reefer Madness...Essentially, and as further discussed in this Atlantic Article, many Mexican peasant immigrants came into the American Southwest searching for work after the Revolution in 1910, and the fears and prejudices with their regard was extended to their smoking marijuana, which was how the Mexicans liked to relax, but was alien to the locals.  As time went on, from the aforementioned article: “Police officers in Texas claimed that marijuana incited violent crimes, aroused a ‘lust for blood,’ and gave its users ‘superhuman strength.’ Rumors spread that Mexicans were distributing this ‘killer weed’ to unsuspecting American schoolchildren.”  The article goes on to mention marijuana’s negative associations with “...African-Americans, jazz musicians, prostitutes, and underworld whites. ‘The Marijuana Menace,’ as sketched by anti-drug campaigners, was personified by inferior races and social deviants.”

“Any discussion of marijuana should begin with the fact that there have been numerous official reports and studies, every one of which has concluded that marijuana poses no great risk to society and should not be criminalized. These include: the National Academy of Sciences' ‘Analysis of Marijuana Policy’(1982); the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (the Shafer Report) (1973); the Canadian Government's Commission of Inquiry (Le Dain Report) (1970); the British Advisory Committee on Drug Dependency (Wooton Report) (1968); the La Guardia Report (1944); the Panama Canal Zone Military Investigations (1916-29); and Britain's monumental Indian Hemp Drugs Commission (1893-4).” CA NORML Health



fact:  “There's a simple reason why legalization may not be having much of an effect on teen marijuana use — adolescents already report that marijuana is widely available. Nationally, roughly 80 percent of 12th-graders say that pot is easy to get. The kids who want to smoke weed are probably already doing so — and legalization would do little to change that.” Washington Post Article

“Rates of marijuana use among Colorado's teenagers are essentially unchanged in the years since the state's voters legalized marijuana in 2012, new survey data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows. In 2015, 21 percent of Colorado youths had used marijuana in the past 30 days. That rate is slightly lower than the national average and down slightly from the 25 percent who used marijuana in 2009, before legalization. ” Washington Post Article