Marijuana facts and fiction

Any subject attracts a good number of ‘old wives tales’and myths and marijuana is no different in this aspect.

There are many misconceptions about marijuana which range from the unusual to the potentially dangerous. This section aims to dispel those myths and shows you the reality behind these.

Myth 1

Marijuana is a harmless drug.

Fact 1

Small doses or short term use is unlikely to cause harm but heavy doses or long term use can lead to addiction. It can also cause physical and psychological damage and worsen existing mental health conditions such as schizophrenia.

It is not as dangerous as heroin or cocaine but nevertheless, it does have the potential to cause long term problems.

Myth 2

Marijuana has never killed anyone.

Fact 2

Whilst that is correct there have been cases where someone has died in an accident due to being under the influence of marijuana.

Myth 3

Marijuana is not as dangerous as tobacco.

Fact 3

Wrong. Marijuana smoke contains chemicals, toxins, tar and carcinogens which are harmful and increase the risk of cancer. In fact, the level of carcinogens is often higher in marijuana smoke than tobacco smoke which cannot be ignored.

Marijuana smokers tend to inhale this smoke deeply and for longer which increase the amount of time their lungs are exposed to these substances.

Myth 4

Marijuana is not an addictive drug

Fact 4

Not true. Whilst marijuana does not cause physical dependency it can result in psychological dependency especially in people who are considered vulnerable.

Some people have a genetic predisposition towards addiction or what we think of as an ‘addictive personality’ which means that they are more likely to become addicted.

This also applies to people who suffer from anxiety, depression or some other form of mental illness.

Not every person who uses marijuana will become addicted but there is evidence to show that regular users, long term users or those who use heavy doses are more likely to do so.

Myth 5

Marijuana kills off brain cells

Fact 5

It does not kill brain cells but it can cause changes in brain structure and function especially if used for a long period of time.

Heavy users of marijuana find that their short term memory is poor; they have a lack of energy and motivation and find it difficult to learn new things or multitask.

Myth 6

Marijuana causes high blood pressure.

Fact 6

There is an element of truth in this as marijuana does cause a small rise in blood pressure almost immediately after ingestion. This occurs if the person is sat down and falls when they stand up which may cause them to faint.

Heavy doses of marijuana cause a drop in blood pressure.

This is likely to be a problem for people suffering from high blood pressure or heart disease.

Myth 7

Marijuana is not as popular as it used to be.

Fact 7

Marijuana is still a popular drug of choice for many people. Plus there are newer, stronger forms available such as skunk and sinsemilla which cause intense hallucinations.

Many young people use marijuana as it is seen as cheap, easy to obtain and a ‘natural drug’which means less risk of additives or adulterants.

It is used to relax or ‘chill out’ and is seen as less risky than others types of drugs.

Myth 8

Marijuana leads to stronger drugs such as heroin or cocaine.

Fact 8

Marijuana is not a ‘gateway drug’ in that it automatically opens the way to harder substances such as cocaine and heroin.

There are people who have used marijuana but have never tried other drugs; conversely there are some who have tried harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine who have also used marijuana.

There will be a few people who will use marijuana and then go onto stronger drugs such as heroin but they are likely to be the exception rather than the norm.

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