There are many myths pertaining to the perils of marijuana.
There are people who say marijuana is addicting, that it is a gateway drug to harder substances, it is bad for your health and of course that smoking will make you dumber.
While much research is still needed in order to fully understand the scope of the benefits and hazards of smoking marijuana, many of these common statements are far from the truth or are very exaggerated.
Luckily, the International Centre For Science In Drug Policy (ICSPD) has compiled a research paper which looks to thoroughly examine some of the many myths that circulate amongst a smoking culture that is slowly becoming more acceptable everyday.
Myth #1 - Marijuana is as addictive as heroin
This is an entirely inaccurate and exaggerated statement. According to the report, "There is no scientific evidence to suggest that cannabis has the same addictive potential as heroin."
In fact, more than 90% of people who try cannabis do not become addicted. However, heroin has a 23.1% lifetime dependency level, cocaine is at 20.9%, alcohol is at 22.7% and nicotine is at a staggering 67.5%.
Myth #2 - Marijuana is a gateway drug
That old saying that weed is a gateway drug to harder, more illicit drugs couldn't be further from the truth. Just because you smoke weed, doesn't mean you will automatically get roped in to trying heroin, per say.
As the report says, "There is no evidence to suggest that the use of cannabis causes or increases the risk that an individual will move on to use other drugs."
In actuality, other factors such as the area and drug market in which you live around and personality traits such as "sensation seeking" are contributors to people looking for harder drugs.
Myth #3 - Smoking marijuana leads to a decrease in IQ
While it is a common belief that smoking will make you dumber, there is actually little to no scientific research to support this myth.
The report points to a flawed research paper, which has often misdirected people's judgement in regards to the effects of cannabis and IQ.
The study that was done only represents a small subsample of people and socioeconomic factors went unreported.
However, the ICSDP does warn that "it is worth highlighting that different people are impacted by cannabis use differently. Research suggesting that cannabis use can have certain impacts on the brain will not apply to all cannabis users in all situations."
Myth #4 - Legalizing marijuana will increase usage
There is a common belief that consumption will go up if and when it is legalized.
However, the report cites World Health Organization data which points to countries with "punitive drug policies". Although these countries have tough drug laws, that does not mean that people do less drugs. Compared to more liberal countries and their drug laws, there is no difference in usage.
Basically, prohibition does nothing to minimize usage. In areas where medical marijuana is available, a 15 year study showed that it "has not led to increases in recreational adolescent cannabis use in the United States." In European countries, the report also states that "over the past decade or so indicates that no simple association was observed between legal changes and changes in cannabis use prevalence."
Myth #5 - Legalization will increase the availability of cannabis
As the report states, the opposite may in fact happen.
Due to governments being able to set legal age restrictions, the availability of marijuana could drop. This has already taken place with tobacco and has been shown to work.
The research also pointed to the fact that, "for the past 39 years, between 81% and 90% of twelfth graders in the United States have reported that they could obtain cannabis 'fairly easily'."
Therefore, with a legal age set, the ease of which kids could procure marijuana, could drop.