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The Myths and Facts About Marijuana

The Myths and Facts About Marijuana

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Published by: Ever Last on Sep 02, 2010
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The Myths and Facts about Marijuana
Myth:Marijuana Can Cause Permanent Mental Illness. Among adolescents,even occasional marijuana use may cause psychological damage. Duringintoxication, marijuana users become irrational and often behaveerratically.Fact:There is no convincing scientific evidence that marijuana causespsychological damage or mental illness in either teenagers or adults. Somemarijuana users experience psychological distress following marijuanaingestion, which may include feelings of panic, anxiety, and paranoia. Suchexperiences can be frightening, but the effects are temporary. With verylarge doses, marijuana can cause temporary toxic psychosis. This occursrarely, and almost always when marijuana is eaten rather than smoked.Marijuana does not cause profound changes in people's behavior.Myth:Marijuana is Highly Addictive. Long term marijuana users experiencephysical dependence and withdrawal, and often need professional drugtreatment to break their marijuana habits.Fact:Most people who smoke marijuana smoke it only occasionally. A smallminority of Americans -less than 1 percent -smoke marijuana on a dailybasis. An even smaller minority develop a dependence on marijuana. Somepeople who smoke marijuana heavily and frequently stop without difficulty.Others seek help from drug treatment professionals. Marijuana does notcause physical dependence. If people experience withdrawal symptoms atall, they are remarkably mild.Myth:Marijuana Is More Potent Today Than In The Past. Adults who usedmarijuana in the 1960s and 1970s fail to realize that when today's youth usemarijuana they are using a much more dangerous drug.Fact:When today's youth use marijuana, they are using the same drug usedby youthin the 1960s and 1970s. A small number of low-THC samples seized by theDrug Enforcement Administration are used to calculate a dramatic increasein potency. However, these samples were not representative of themarijuana generally available to users during this era. Potency data fromthe early 1980s to the present are more reliable, and they show no increasein the average THC content of marijuana. Even if marijuana potency were toincrease, it would not necessarily make the drug more dangerous. Marijuanathat varies quite substantially in potency produces similar psychoactiveeffects.Myth:Marijuana Is More Potent Today Than In The Past. Adults who usedmarijuana in the 1960s and 1970s fail to realize that when today's youth usemarijuana they are using a much more dangerous drug.Fact:When today's youth use marijuana, they are using the same drug used
 
by youth in the 1960s and 1970s. A small number of low-THC samples seizedby the Drug Enforcement Administration are used to calculate a dramaticincrease in potency. However,these samples were not representative of themarijuana generally available to users during this era. Potency data fromthe early 1980s to the present are more reliable, and they show no increasein the average THC content of marijuana. Even if marijuana potency were toincrease, it would not necessarily make the drug more dangerous. Marijuanathat varies quite substantially in potency produces similar psychoactiveeffects.Myth:Marijuana is More Damaging to the Lungs Than Tobacco. Marijuanasmokers are at a high risk of developing lung cancer, bronchitis, andemphysema.Fact:Moderate smoking of marijuana appears to pose minimal danger to thelungs. Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke contains a number of irritantsand carcinogens. But marijuana users typically smoke much less often thantobacco smokers, and over time, inhale much less smoke. As a result, therisk of serious lung damage should be lower in marijuana smokers. Therehave been no reports of lung cancer related solely to marijuana, and in alarge study presented to the American Thoracic Society in 2006, even heavyusers of smoked marijuana were found not to have any increased risk of lungcancer. Unlike heavy tobacco smokers, heavy marijuana smokers exhibit noobstruction of the lung's small airway. That indicates that people will notdevelop emphysema from smoking marijuana.Myth:Marijuana Has No Medicinal Value. Safer, more effective drugs areavailable. They include a synthetic version of THC, marijuana's primaryactive ingredient, which ismarketed in the United States under the nameMarinol.Fact:Marijuana has been shown to be effective in reducing the nauseainduced by cancer chemotherapy, stimulating appetite in AIDS patients, andreducing intraocular pressure in people with glaucoma. There is alsoappreciable evidence that marijuana reduces muscle spasticity in patientswith neurological disorders. A synthetic capsule is available by prescription,but it is not as effective as smoked marijuana for many patients. Pure THCmay also produce more unpleasant psychoactive side effects than smokedmarijuana. Many people use marijuana as a medicine today, despite itsillegality. In doing so, they risk arrest and imprisonment.Myth:Marijuana is a Gateway Drug. Even if marijuana itself causes minimalharm, it is a dangerous substance because it leads to the use of "harderdrugs" like heroin, LSD, and cocaine.Fact:Marijuana does not cause people to use hard drugs. What the gatewaytheory presents as a causal explanation is a statistic association betweencommon and uncommon drugs, an association that changes over time asdifferent drugs increase and decrease in prevalence. Marijuana is the mostpopular illegal drug in the United States today. Therefore, people who have
 
used less popular drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and LSD, are likely to havealso used marijuana. Most marijuana users never use any other illegal drug.Indeed, for the large majority of people, marijuana is a terminus ratherthan a gateway drug.Myth:Marijuana's Harms Have BeenProved Scientifically. In the 1960s and1970s, many people believed that marijuana was harmless. Today we knowthat marijuana is much more dangerous than previously believed.Fact:In 1972, after reviewing the scientific evidence, the NationalCommissionon Marihuana and Drug Abuse concluded that while marijuanawas not entirely safe, its dangers had been grossly overstated. Since then,researchers have conducted thousands of studies of humans, animals, andcell cultures. None reveal any findings dramatically different from thosedescribed by the National Commission in 1972. In 1995, based on thirtyyears of scientific research editors of the British medical journal Lancetconcluded that "the smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful tohealth."Myth:Marijuana Causes an Amotivational Syndrome. Marijuana makes userspassive, apathetic, and uninterested in the future. Students who usemarijuana become underachievers and workers who use marijuana becomeunproductive.Fact:For twenty-five years, researchers have searched for a marijuana-induced amotivational syndrome and have failed to find it. People who areintoxicated constantly, regardless of the drug, are unlikely to be productivemembers of society. There is nothing about marijuana specifically thatcauses people to lose their drive and ambition. In laboratory studies,subjects given high doses of marijuana for several days or even severalweeks exhibit no decrease in work motivation or productivity. Amongworking adults, marijuana users tend to earn higher wages than non-users.College students who use marijuana have the same grades as nonusers.Among high school students, heavy use is associated with school failure, butschool failure usually comes first.Myth:Marijuana Policy in the Netherlands is a Failure. Dutch law, whichallows marijuana to be bought, sold, and used openly, has resulted inincreasing rates of marijuana use, particularly in youth.Fact:The Netherlands' drug policy is the most nonpunitive in Europe. Formore than twentyyears, Dutch citizens over age eighteen have beenpermitted to buy and use cannabis (marijuana and hashish) in government-regulated coffee shops. This policy has not resulted in dramaticallyescalating cannabis use. For most age groups, rates of marijuanause in theNetherlands are similar to those in the United States. However, for youngadolescents, rates of marijuana use are lower in the Netherlands than in theUnited States. The Dutch people overwhelmingly approve of currentcannabis policy which seeksto normalize rather than dramatize cannabisuse. The Dutch government occasionally revises existing policy, but it

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