According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. Marijuana is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, and its “natural” origins have lead to widespread myths about its potency, risks, and effects on the human body. However, many of these myths are just that. Here are the most common myths about marijuana, and the real truth:
Myth #1: Marijuana is harmless
Truth: Marijuana may have natural origins, but it certainly isn’t harmless. Short-term effects include: impaired judgment, memory loss, anxiety, and trouble with thinking and problem-solving. Long-term, damaging effects of marijuana use can include: memory loss, increased cancer risk, structural and functional damage to the brain, poor academic performance, depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.
Myth #2: Marijuana is not addictive
Truth: According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, marijuana meets the criteria for substance dependence set forth by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMIV). In long-term users, marijuana has been shown to cause withdrawal symptoms; is used even though it may interfere with family, daily activities and school; and creates a strong urge to use the substance again.
Myth #3: Marijuana is a popular medical treatment
Truth: While marijuana is debated to help provide relief for certain conditions, it has not been approved for medical treatment. Marijuana has been deemed a Schedule I controlled substance under the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The DEA office of diversion states:
Substances in this schedule have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
Myth #4: Marijuana’s effects are short-lived
Truth: Marijuana has both short- and long-term effects. In the long run, marijuana can have negative effects on the heart, lungs, brain, and mental health.
Myth #5: Marijuana isn’t as bad as tobacco
Truth: Marijuana contains more cancer-causing chemicals than tobacco substances, can increase the risk of cancer more than smoking cigarettes or using other forms of tobacco, and can cause the same respiratory problems as cigarettes.
Despite all the myths, marijuana is not a harmless substance, and it can be just as dangerous as any other illicit drug. The LiveFree! Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a coalition of members of the community who strive to address alcohol and drug use in Pinellas County. Visit us online today to see how you can get involved in this cause and help stomp out some of the myths surrounding marijuana and other illicit drugs!