Back when marijuana was first pronounced illegal in the 1930s, the arguments for criminalization ranged from the racist to the downright absurd. Marijuana was claimed to cause insanity, deviant sexual behavior, and extreme physical strength, which more often than not was supposedly used by blacks in the seduction of white women (that’s where the racism comes in).
Nowadays, most every sensible adult knows that these supposed effects were nothing more than mere fabrication. We’ve come a long way from the days when marijuana was considered the Devil’s drug, responsible for all sorts of debauchery and deviant behavior. Nevertheless, it is surprising to note how many marijuana myths remain prevalent. Here are some of the most pervasive myths surrounding marijuana use that have since been debunked yet remain commonly believed.
MYTH: Marijuana use leads to criminal behavior
The facts are in: marijuana use does not result in a higher criminal rate society. If anything, a higher population of marijuana users may even result in a lower crime society. In a study published in PLOS One, it was found that from 1990 to 2006, the crime rate in states that have legalized medical marijuana actually decreased or remained the same. Another study conducted in the borough of Lambeth in London showed that the de-penalization of marijuana use actually resulted in fewer incidences of crime during the 13 months that the policy was in effect.
MYTH: Marijuana is a gateway drug
You know how this one goes: smoke a joint today and you will be shooting up heroin, snorting cocaine, or smoking crack within a month. Not only has this claim been shown to be lacking in basis, but studies conducted on drug use in Holland (where marijuana is decriminalized) actually showed a reduction in the number of people treated or arrested for the use of drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
MYTH: Marijuana has no medicinal value
Ironically, one of the biggest propagators of this myth is the U.S. federal government, which continues to deem marijuana a Schedule 1 substance, which means that it supposedly has no medicinal value. The fact is that numerous studies have proven conclusively that marijuana has a number of clear benefits with regard to treating certain health conditions or reducing the ill-effects of treatment for other conditions. The list of health benefits is endless, but marijuana has definitively been shown to have value in the treatment of certain seizure-related disorders, glaucoma, and even the reduction of certain tumors.
MYTH: Marijuana is addictive
One of the most commonly cited studies on cannabis ‘addiction’ claim that 4% of users in the U.S. are addicted to the drug. Apart from this negligible number, the fact that many more do not develop dependency suggests that there is no truth to this myth either. It is also important to note that this particular study was conducted in the 1990s when the medicinal use of marijuana was unrecognized. This means that any perceived dependence may have been mistaken for a legitimate medical need to use marijuana. The questions asked in the study have also been criticized for being somewhat skewed to suggest that certain practices now commonly accepted were signs of dependency.