Of all the substances out there, cannabis might be the one that has the most myths surrounding it. If you think about it, there are probably more marijuana myths in circulation than there are myths about liquor, cigarettes, or even prescription pills.
Thanks to the corruption and smear campaigns that caused marijuana to be illegal, there's a lot of misinformation being circulated as official truth — and much of the facts you've probably read aren't actually factual at all.
Because of all the misinformation, it's hard to parse out the truth and fiction. This is why there are most likely at least a handful of marijuana myths you probably believe to be true. Here are some of the most commonly believed myths about marijuana usage that are typically taken as fact.
Prohibition of marijuana protects children.
If you don't smoke pot, this is one of the marijuana myths you probably believe are true. This is actually extremely untrue. Studies have repeatedly shown that marijuana prohibition hurts kids in a number of different ways.
Prohibition of substances, particularly those that aren't actually harmful when used in moderation like alcohol or weed, has been linked to higher crime rates, family problems, and anxiety.
When you criminalize a natural substance, particularly one that has been proven not to be harmful, you're giving the police a reason to arrest nonviolent offenders. Moreover, outlawing a substance will always create a black market for it.
Potheads and pot dealers aren't harming anyone, but they end up in prison due to prohibition laws. This can be a life-ruiner for a teenager who ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Studies have shown that pot smokers and pot dealers who go to prison often become violent offenders later on. Why? Because the felony charges they got from cannabis charges make it almost impossible for them to get hired and reintegrate into mainstream society.
Additionally, nonviolent offenders often end up getting recruited into gangs when they stay in prison. Considering what they face when they leave prison, it's not surprising that they end up relying on gangs and becoming violent offenders later on.
Moreover, studies also have shown that the best way to reduce marijuana use among teens is to regulate it — but not outlaw it. Surprised? Don't be. Teenage rebellion is a thing for a reason.
Holland and other countries legalized cannabis.
If you're a pot smoker, you can probably chalk this up as one of the many marijuana myths you probably believe to be true. Though it's true that many countries in Europe have decriminalized pot, that's not the same as legalizing it.
In Holland, pot is technically still illegal. However, it's not a law that's enforced. Therefore, it's decriminalized but not legalized. The same can be said for Portugal and other countries with similar systems.
We still have a long way to go, people.
Prisons are filled to the brim with people who were booked for marijuana use.
Yes, this is a myth. This is one of the few marijuana myths you probably believe to be fact, even if you are a cannabis expert. The reason why this myth is so pervasive is because of the grains of truth it's based off of.
Every year, around 750,000 arrests will be made in the United States related to marijuana use or distribution. That's a lot of cannabis-related arrests.
Not all marijuana arrests actually lead to prosecution, jail time, or prison time. Depending on the state laws, the lawyer you choose, and the general circumstances of the arrest, you can easily get away with a fine and a slap on the wrist.
As of right now, 40,000 people are in jail for charges that include marijuana-related convictions. Of those people, only half are in there for marijuana convictions alone. The majority of those 20,000 were there for distribution charges.
This leaves less than 1 percent of all jail time for marijuana usage alone.
Despite the "cramped jail" myth being one of the marijuana myths you probably believe, there is still reason to give pause here. 200 people are still in jail for smoking pot, and another 19,800 are in there for growing a plant that is native to the US.
That's still a lot of innocent people who are being jailed over a stupid law.
Stoned driving is as bad as drunk driving.
This is one of those marijuana myths you probably believe due to D.A.R.E programs at school. In the 90s, police who ran the program made sure to let kids know that it's even worse than driving drunk.
Though it's a common belief, you might have noticed that your friends actually drive 10 miles under the speed limit with their blinkers on when they get too baked — and that doesn't seem very reckless.
Believe it or not, driving while stoned is a lot safer than driving while drunk. Your stoner friends who just drive a little slower are way more likely to be the norm than the exception.
Studies have shown that drunk driving kills around 28 Americans per day. Drunk drivers have long been established to be extremely dangerous compared to sober drivers.
Stoned drivers, on the other hand, have similar accident rates to normal, drug-free drivers. So, statistically speaking, stoned driving really isn't as dangerous as you think.
Marijuana causes brain damage — or makes you stupid.
This is one of the most commonly held beliefs about cannabis out there, and it's one of the marijuana myths you probably believe because of how prevalent it is in mainstream media.
The "stupid stoner" trope is one that has been used in tons of movies, shows, and books. Why? Because it's funny, and because it is socially acceptable to call marijuana users stupid.
It is well-known that marijuana can cause lapses in memory and giddiness, which can make someone appear less bright than they really are.
However, a study performed in France showed that marijuana usage does not actually cause long-term brain damage as previously thought. While cannabis may cause brain changes over time, there's not enough evidence to determine whether it's positive or negative in nature.
So, no, marijuana doesn't make you stupid or cause brain damage.
Marijuana is addictive.
One of the marijuana myths you probably believe if you are against medical marijuana involves its propensity for addiction. Unlike other myths in this article, there is some truth to this claim.
Around nine percent of all marijuana users become addicted.
It sounds like a big percentage until you realize that around 14 percent of all alcohol users and 24 percent of all tobacco users will become addicted. When you realize it's way less addictive than other things that are currently legal, the concern of addiction quickly plummets.
After all, there are plenty of bars on every corner, but alcoholism is still relatively uncommon.
To make matters more ridiculous, the actual group performing the study believes that the nine percent they received could be inflated because they didn't adjust for marijuana criminalization. The actual addiction rate could be as low as four percent!
You can automatically tell who smokes pot and who doesn't.
This is yet another one of those marijuana myths you probably believe thanks to Hollywood. We all tend to assume that stoners look like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, but the truth is that the average pot smoker isn't really anything like that.
Marijuana usage can be seen in almost every subculture. The average pot smoker is actually educated, gainfully employed, and of above average intelligence. Major celebrities like Justin Timberlake and the Beatles have admitted to using it.
Saying you can tell who is a pot stoner is like saying you know who drinks every Friday night. It's too wide a range of people to stereotype someone as a stoner!