Because cannabis culture is shrouded in a dank cloud of mystery and intrigue, we decided to clear the air, once and for all, and give you the straight dope on every lie you’ve ever been told about Mary Jane. We promise not to blow smoke up your…well, you know.
1. Myth: Driving while stoned is just as bad as under the influence of alcohol
Look, no one should argue that being baked and operating a motor vehicle is totally cool. Yes, I know about the theory that “Stoned drivers are more cautious because they’re paranoid,” but realistically, any impairment at all is, well, an impairment. That being said, the dangers of driving blazed are significantly less than driving after boozing. There is a speed limit on going too slow, after all, Chong.
2. Myth: Marijuana kills brain cells
After many decades of back and forth studies, a recent University of Louisville undertaking (earlier this year) has determined that marijuana use does not, in fact, kill off those precious brain cells that keep your noggin’ humming. This corroborates a 2003 report in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society published by Cambridge University staking the same claim. Good news for tokers. Bad news for PSA makers.
3. Myth: You can get high from eating raw weed
By raw weed, I mean uncooked weed. Not edibles. But can you get high from just popping a nug into your mouth and swallowing? The answer is no, marijuana has to be heated and combined with a fatty substance (like butter), and consumed orally, for full effect. Go ahead. Try it yourself. You’ll just end up with a mouthful of stems and nothing to show for it.
4. Myth: Smoking weed can defuse your sex drive
A lot of teen-focused Public Service ads warning about the perils of weed will focus on the fact that it makes you anti-social, unable to talk to members of the opposite sex, and even unable to “hang out” with your partner, romantically speaking. This is decidedly untrue. Canadian researchers, performing the most applied-for case study ever (probably) found that more than half of participants found having sex while being stonedwas actually more enjoyable than regular, sober sex.
5. Myth: Marijuana is addictive
This is an admittedly tough (and controversial) one. We all have the friend who “just can’t function without weed, man!” But is there any real proof that it’s actually addictive? Not really…or at least not in the way we commonly classify “addiction.” Often, with people who can’t stop smoking, it’s referred to as a “dependency,” largely focusing on a mental attachment to the drug. People do get “addicted,” per se, but a similar addiction could occur with chocolate, or driving race cars every weekend. A mental dependency has a lot to do with an individual’s mental makeup and mental state. So, it’s not fair to qualify marijuana as physiologically and inherently addictive like harder drugs (cocaine, heroin, etc.) and alcohol, even though some individuals can use marijuana with addict-like dependencies. Around 9% of people who use weed heavily will grow dependent in their lifetime, as opposed to 15% of heavy cocaine users, and 24% of heroin users.
6. Myth: Because it’s non-addictive, quitting smoking is easy!
While there is no proof marijuana is physically addictive (see above), anyone who has seen Half-Baked knows that quitting pot can be a tall order for a heavy smoker. And it’s not just about will power either. Frequent smokers (like, very frequent smokers) have reported withdrawal symptoms like irritability, insomnia, and appetite loss. While these pale in comparison to withdrawal experiences from other drugs, it’s still worth noting. Generally though, casual smokers should have nothing to worry about if they stop smoking cold turkey. Except not finding Family Guy funny anymore, which will probably happen.
7. Myth: George Washington grew weed in his backyard
I’m sorry to disappoint Dazed and Confused fans, but the father of our country grew hemp, not weed. There is a difference. And he only did it because he thought it would be super lucrative (it wasn’t).
8. Myth: Smoking pot is worse for your lungs than cigarettes
Despite having some similar components, a large-scale, national study showed that smoke from Mary Jane was less harmful than the chemical concoctions you find in your average cigarette. Not only that, but the consumption rate of the two drugs is strikingly different. While an average smoker of cigs would be likely to puff a pack a day, an average daily pot smoker probably wouldn’t be toking 20 joints per 24 hours. That’s like, beyond Snoop territory. (For specific info on the link between cancer and marijuana, check out #18)
9. Myth: Marijuana affects your memories
It’s no secret that marijuana affects your short-term memory…we were literally just talking about that (just kidding). But surprisingly, it’s been shown that using weed doesn’taffect your existing memories, nor does it cause long-term memory loss or diseases like dementia. Who needs short-term memories anyway? Just tie your car keys/cell phone/wallet/lighter to your belt, and call it a day.
10. Myth: Prisons are full of people convicted of marijuana possession
This is a myth that is thrown around by people stumping for marijuana legalization. In fact, a very, very low number of inmates in U.S. prisons are locked up for marijuana possession alone. 750,000 people are arrested every year on marijuana-related charges. Out of those, 40,000 people end up getting locked up with a weed conviction, though almost all of them have something more serious attached, like distribution of marijuana (selling the stuff) or another, unrelated crime that caused them to serve hard time. Only about 1% of those serving time for bud, were convicted for possession alone.
11. Myth: The munchies and the giggles aren’t real
Two common reactions to smoking marijuana are: laughing at everything and getting really, really into eating food. I call it “Seth Rogen Syndrome.” While some may claim this is just a pot stereotype, or just a self-fulfilling exaggeration, there’s actual science behind both claims. Studies have shown that marijuana increases senses like taste and scent, literally making food taste better. As far as a heightened tendency to laugh goes, marijuana is known to elevate and isolate your perception, as well as provide a heightened level of confusion, which some researchers believe leads to a more jolly mood. Which naturally leads to barrels of laughs, all around.
12. Myth: Most people that smoke pot are pot heads
With marijuana becoming a bigger part of mainstream American culture, more people are trying the drug than ever before, but that doesn’t mean we are turning into a nation of full-blown Lebowskis. Only about six million of the 30 million who reported using marijuana in the past year use it on a daily (or frequent, meaning “almost daily”) basis. So, the overwhelming majority of pot smokers blaze in moderation.
13. Myth: D.A.R.E. actually helps kids stay away from drugs
Anecdotally, I can say that the kids active in D.A.R.E were some of the biggest drinkers/drug users that I knew in high school. Statistically, it seems that D.A.R.E. canactually increase the odds of kids getting into intoxicants, probably because of how dangerously enjoyable/attainable they make these substances seem to the young and impressionable.
14. Myth: You can overdose on weed
Nope. You would have to take almost 40,000 times the regular dose of weed (at once) in order to theoretically ingest a lethal amount of THC. So basically, you would have to build a bong the size of the Empire State building, stand inside of it, and breathe deeper than a yoga instructor on top of Mount Everest to even come close. Though, that would be a cool way to go, all things considered.
15. Myth: Everyone who smokes weed looks the same
Do Bob Marley, Steve Jobs, Sarah Palin, Oprah, Conan O’Brien, Barack Obama, Morgan Freeman, John Kerry, and Jennifer Aniston look the same? Not every pot smoker is draped in a Jamaican flag and puka beads, you know.
16. Myth: Buying weed supports terrorism
This was a big one in my 7th grade health class. “Kids, every time you smoke marijuana, you are supporting terrorism. That’s right. All your weed comes from terrorists. Like Al-Qaeda!” Look, buying weed on the black market no doubt supports the criminal element in a small way (duh) but don’t feel like you are putting a gun in the hands of an ISIS member every time you spark a joint.
17. Myth: Legalizing pot will not hurt criminals
The Washington Post estimates that cartels stand to lose billions of dollars if pot becomes legalized in the U.S., with some cartels standing to be literally stripped of half their revenue. That, and the trickle-down effect on the smaller intricacies of the black market that would occur, can serve as overwhelming evidence as to how marijuana legalization would put a serious dent in criminal elements all over the continent.
18. Myth: Marijuana use definitely causes cancer
Cannabis smoke does contain carcinogens, which cause cancer, but contradicting studies have been bounced back and forth on the subject for years, with no definitive answer. The consensus is, generally, that although there is no concrete proof that smoking marijuana causes cancer, that doesn’t mean that it definitely doesn’t. So, if you are going to smoke heavily, you should keep that in the back of your mind. That being said, Doctors are fairly sure ingesting marijuana orally does not contain much (if any) risk of cancer, with a plethora of chemotherapy patients even being prescribed oral (or vaporized) marijuana to help manage their pain and health. So, bottom line: Smoking, maybe (maybe not). Eating, no.
19. Myth: You can cheat your drug test
Nope. You can’t. If for some reason you bought into some shifty drug test beating panacea, like a detox kit or drinking a virgin squid ink cocktail from a back alley in Chinatown, and it worked: congrats! You just witnessed a coincidence. The only way to “fool” modern drug tests is to either bring in someone else’s’ clean urine (make sure it’s heated, they test for temperature too), or use a Whizzinator (with fake, synthetic urine). Plus you could always, you know, quit smoking.
20. Myth: Weed stays in your system for 30 days
This is only the case for heavy smokers—meaning both everyday users, as well as overweight people who smoke weed. Without delving too deep into things like half-lives and THC levels, it basically breaks down like this: a one-time user should be clear in a matter of days. A weekly smoker, a couple weeks, tops. For a daily smoker, it could be up to a month or more, depending on the level of fat on his/her body, and individual factors like metabolism. THC is stored in fat, so exercising can actually help, though just sweating can’t. So skip the sauna, and focus on burning fat.
21. Myth: Pot gives you man boobs
In 2013, CNN reported that marijuana can give male users a condition known as gynecomastia…commonly called “man boobs.” This claim was swiftly debunked. Interest in the Manzier skyrocketed, then plummeted back to Earth, where it belongs.
22. Myth: All weed is created equal
Anyone who’s ever seen a menu from a coffee shop in Amsterdam knows that there are myriad weed strains out there. But what a casual toker might neglect to notice is that the effects of individual strains vary greatly. Indica strains are known to give users a relaxing body high (“indica, in da’ couch,” remember that) while sativa strains deliver a more cerebral high, designed to enhance. Hybrids are mixtures of the two, and cover all the areas in between “totally chilled” and “omg my hands are huuuuuge!”
23. Myth: Marijuana is a gateway drug
This myth is so basic and well-trodden, I considered not even including it on this list. But alas, no, there is no real evidence that weed is a gateway drug. A report by the Institute of Medicine states “no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.” Realistically, weed is just the most common drug in America, so most people are exposed to it before anything else.
24. Myth: Weed is legal in Portugal and the Netherlands
In Portugal, it’s only decriminalized: if you buy, use, or sell pot, you can get fined or be forced to do community service. In the Netherlands (that’s where Amsterdam is) it’s even more complicated. You’re not really supposed to have it at all, but the government just kind of doesn’t care. And for good reason! 4.5 million tourists flock to Amsterdam every year, a large majority to indulge in the fruits of their famed coffee shops. At any rate, if you plan to visit either of these countries to smoke, you’ll be fine. Just don’t be stupid.
25. Myth: Pot can turn straight people gay
Earlier this year, stories were circulating that apparently asserted marijuana has the effect of making straight people, unstraight. No official studies have been conducted, but if the words of user submitted confessions can be taken as fact, weed just lowers inhibitions, which causes people to act out on impulses they may not usually indulge in under normal circumstances. TL;DR: you probably always had these feelings, weed just made you act on them.
26. Myth: Weed will leave you sterile
Though it is true that smoking marijuana frequently can leave you with abnormal sperm(a term no man wants to hear), no studies have shown that it lasts forever, and even the short-term effects aren’t extreme enough to label a person as “sterile.” So no, bongs are not the new condoms.
27. Myth: People know where 4/20 came from
People say it’s a police code for possession, or a standard meet-up time for fans of The Grateful Dead or high school kids in SoCal to meet up and burn. But truthfully, no one knows why this is the official number of all things marijuana. It just is, man.
28. Myth: Pot smokers are lazy and unsuccessful
While I normally find it hard to disagree with Nancy Grace (kidding…I’m kidding), I thinkthis list might make her bite her (surprisingly not forked) tongue, even if this one doesn’t.
29. Myth: Weed leads to violent crimes
Criminals do smoke weed at a higher rate than the general population. But they alsodrink, smoke cigarettes, and gamble more than your average non-offender. It’s not that marijuana is the cause of violent crime, more that criminals have much higher tendencies to partake in risky behavior. And smoking marijuana, though arguably less risky than most criminal activities, is no exception.
30. Myth: Marijuana makes you more creative
Marijuana use may be highly prevalent among artists, writers, and musicians—but that doesn’t mean the herb is making these already creative people even more creative. According to a recent study, professors at Lieden University found after extensive testing that marijuana only produces an “illusion of enhanced creativity,” and not a superior creative mindset. This explains so much about that last Afroman album.
31. Myth: Weed will cure your anxiety
While some people are prescribed medical marijuana to combat anxiety, it can actually have the reverse effect on a lot of the weed-smoking population (read: extreme paranoia). It’s this kind of untested duality that makes proving the legitimacy of medical marijuana to combat mental illness such a complicated issue.
32. Myth: Legalized weed is a bad thing for the country
$60.1 million. That’s how much money in taxes—money that will go towards schools, public programs, and the elderly—that Colorado brought in the first year it legalized marijuana. Along with nearly 16,000 new jobs created so far, it has become a viable part of Colorado’s economy without suffering any spikes in crime, and zero difference in teen use of the drug than in states where the drug is prohibited.
33. Myth: The jury is still out on the beneficial effects of medical marijuana
In a national survey conducted in 2014, a large majority of doctors agreed that marijuana should either be fully legalized or at least allowed for medicinal reasons. Aside from being a non-opioid option for pain management, scientists have found a component in cannabis that may inhibit cancer growth, and marijuana extracts have helped many people—including children—conquer conditions that debilitate them with frequent and painful seizures. Marijuana has also helped families deal with autism and a laundry list of other illnesses. With nearly half the country legalizing medical marijuana in one form or another, it appears legislators agree: helping people get better shouldn’t be outlawed.