With medical marijuana, and even recreational marijuana, becoming legalized in more jurisdictions, myths associated with cannabis abound. There are three common misconceptions about marijuana that need to be addressed.
Marijuana is Highly Addictive
A persistent myth about marijuana is that it is highly addictive, more addictive than many other drugs. Although marijuana abuse and addiction is a reasonable concern, the potential for marijuana addiction is described as miniscule. It simply is not a major health issue.
Research reveals that 9 percent of marijuana users become dependent on it. This compares to 23 percent heroin and 17 percent of cocaine users.
The reality is that legal mind-altering substances are also considered more addictive than is marijuana. 15 percent of people who use alcohol develop a dependency. 32 percent of tobacco smokers develop a nicotine dependency. Indeed, gambling is more addictive according to some research studies than is marijuana.
Marijuana Use Causes Cancer
A prevalent myth is that marijuana use causes cancer. The truth is that marijuana smokes does contain carcinogens. With that recognized, even a truly hardcore marijuana smoker is going to smoke less than a typical tobacco cigarette smoker. Even a heavy marijuana user is not likely to ingest enough smoke to cause cancer. As an aside, marijuana is used in a variety of other ways, in addition to smoking.
There is some research that now suggests the use of marijuana may actually inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors. This research is not yet definitive, however.
Marijuana Causes Violence
A myth associated with marijuana since the 1930s is that its use leads to violence. The contention that marijuana leads to violence was part and parcel of the campaign to criminalize its use earlier in the 20th century.
In fact, there is not significant support for the proposition that marijuana use itself leads to violence. There is evidence supporting the proposing that criminalizing marijuana resulted in violence associated with the illegal drug trade. With that noted, violence among individuals in the drug trade does not prove that marijuana use itself causes violence.
There are a myriad of other misconceptions associated with marijuana and its use. As more jurisdictions legalize marijuana, these myths are apt to exist in the immediate future. However, over time, as more jurisdictions legalize the use of marijuana, its use will become more commonplace and even accepted. Ultimately, what drives marijuana myths today, will likely reduce misconceptions in the future.