Go to any marijuana forum or website and you’ll see a lot of unsubstantiated claims about cannabis. Needless to say, researchers at the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy got fed up with the whole thing and decided to examine current scientific evidence to see if there’s some grain of truth in any of these claims.
“Over the past year we’ve been working diligently on scanning the news media and online conversations about cannabis to identify the most often repeated or high-profile claims related to its use and regulation,” said director Dan Werb. “We found that not one of the claims about cannabis that we identified were strongly supported by scientific evidence.”
Curious what those things are? Buzzfeed compiled 6 of the most common marijuana myths, as well as the scientific evidence related to them, in the list below:
Myth #1: Marijuana is a gateway drug.
Though studies show that marijuana “often precedes the use of ‘harder’ illicit drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, there is no evidence to suggest that the use of cannabis causes or increases the risk that an individual will move on to use other drugs.”
Maybe such a trend only happens because these drugs were bought from the same illegal drug markets. The fact is that no causal relationship between weed and other drugs has been found.
Myth #2: Marijuana has drastically gotten stronger over the past 30 years.
It’s true that the THC levels of weed have increased in recent decades to as much as 300 percent in the However, the amount of increase differs by location.
“In the United States, recent studies have cited average increases of 3 percent to 12 percent in THC content over the past three decades, which is equivalent to a 300 percent increase,” the researchers said. “Significant increases have not been detected for European countries other than the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.”
Myth #3: Marijuana is as addictive as heroin.
According to recent research, weed is certainly not as addictive as heroin, since “less than 1 in 10 people who use cannabis across their lifetime will progress to cannabis dependence.” This is in contrast to heroin addiction, which is pegged at 23.1 percent.
“The evidence tells us that the vast majority of individuals who experiment with cannabis will experience no serious adverse effects,” said Dr. Evan Wood from the University of British Columbia. “Legal psychoactive drugs like alcohol and tobacco are much more harmful and addictive.”
Myth #4: Marijuana causes schizophrenia.
There is really no causal link between weed and schizophrenia in current studies. Dr. Werb pointed out a recent UK study to illustrate his point: “During a period when cannabis use increased, schizophrenia rates stayed the same—suggesting there is no causal link.”
Still, other studies might find more compelling evidence in the future. But as of now, this is not yet proven.
Myth #5: Marijuana impairs cognitive function.
This does happen, but not to all people. “There are gaps in the scientific evidence on the full range of effects and their reversibility,” the researchers said. “The evidence did not support a causal relationship between cannabis use by young people and various psychosocial harms.”
In other words, the effects – including cognitive impairment – varies from person to person.
Myth #6: Marijuana causes lethal damage to the heart and lungs.
Saying that marijuana causes “lethal damage” is an exaggeration based on current evidence.
“Studies have found that low, occasional cannabis use does not adversely affect the lungs,” the researchers said. “However, the impact of long-term cannabis smoking on respiratory function is less clear.” This is certainly an area that needs more studies before it can be concluded that indeed, weed can cause irreversible damage on both the heart and the lungs.
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