The ongoing direction of state and federal policies regarding cannabis use suggests that cannabis acceptance has already reached levels not seen in recent memory. Different forms of cannabis are already legal in a majority of American states and it may only be a matter of time before owning and using both medical and recreational cannabis becomes legal at a federal level.
Given that the drug is widely used even here in Texas, where most use cases are illegal, it’s important to have a more grounded understanding of the many myths surrounding its safety. If you feel that you or a close family member has problems with cannabis, be sure to get in touch with Dallas Drug Treatment Centers.
Myth #1: Cannabis Isn’t Addictive
This myth is largely due to the fact that cannabis is comparatively less habit-forming than other widely available substances. This has led a lot of users to comment that they are not especially prone to craving cannabis.1,4
While that may be true for some people, there is plenty of evidence that cannabis can be habit-forming, with close to 1-in-10 users eventually developing a cannabis use disorder. The risk also tends to go up with the potency and dosage consumed, both of which have been on the rise in past decades due to the selective breeding of cannabis plants.1,3,4,5,7
Myth #2: Cannabis Smoke Is Safe for Your Lungs
This one is slightly tricky, as there is some evidence from a controversial 2012 study that smoking one joint daily for 20 years does not significantly impair lung function, making it comparatively less dangerous than tobacco.2 However, that isn’t to say that there are no negative effects at all to the respiratory system, as not only do other studies demonstrate the opposite effect, others also associate cannabis smoking with an increase in the risk of bronchitis and a worsening of existing lung problems.3,4,5 Also, if you smoke more than one joint daily, which is not uncommon for regular users, then all bets are off.
Myth #3: It’s is Safe Because It’s Natural
This idea falls under a common logical fallacy called “Appeal to Nature”. The fact that a substance is naturally occurring does not necessarily make it beneficial. Few would argue, for instance, that smoking opium or tobacco is good for you, even though both are derived from so-called natural sources. Cannabis’s negative health effects are well documented alongside its medicinal potential.3,4,5
In any case, most cannabis products that are readily available in the US are the products of decades of selective breeding, giving them several times the potency of heritage varieties, which means that one can hardly call most cannabis to be “natural”.4
Myth #4: Cannabis Can Make You a Better Driver
This myth is puzzling, given that typical doses of cannabis can very noticeably impair one’s coordination.3,4,5 This is made more evident by a pattern of marijuana-related accidents increasing predictably each time a state legalizes recreational cannabis.6
One possible circumstance where it may make one a “better” driver is if one has been medically prescribed cannabis to treat anxiety and panic attacks related to driving. However, even in these cases, many physicians will recommend that the patient avoid driving or operating heavy machinery.
Myth #5: There are No Withdrawal Symptoms
Decades of study show that this is largely untrue. While physical withdrawal symptoms may not be as excruciating as those for tobacco, alcohol, or opioids, they nonetheless exist.1,4 Up to 9% of people who use marijuana will develop cannabis use disorder, and will therefore experience withdrawal symptoms upon ceasing use.1,4,7
Myth #6: Cross-fading/Mixing Cannabis and Other Substances is Safe
There’s a common misconception among regular cannabis users that cannabis can be safely combined with other substances, like alcohol and MDMA, to name a few. However, this type of misuse is exceedingly dangerous as interactions can vary according to the doses involved and the person using them.3,4,5 Just because a specific combination doesn’t seem to negatively affect one person, it doesn’t mean that it will be true for others.
Myth #7: There Are No Negative Mental Health Effects
Frequent marijuana use has been associated with cannabis use disorder, which, in turn, is a condition associated with other mental health issues like anxiety and depression, particularly when long-term use and large doses are involved. Marijuana use by children and adolescents has also been recently linked to stunted brain growth. Additionally, cannabis has long been linked to a significant risk of developing schizophrenia, a serious mental illness.1,3,4,5,7
Find Help for Cannabis Use Disorder
Cannabis use without proper medical supervision can easily lead to a cannabis use disorder, as well as additional risks to your mental health. If you suspect that you or a loved one has issues with cannabis, please seek the help of a qualified mental health professional immediately. You can call us at +1(214) 935-2287 to further discuss your treatment and rehab options.
- Powell, A. (2020, February). What we know and don’t know about pot. The Harvard Gazette.
- Pletcher, M. J., Vittinghoff, E., Kalhan, R., Richman, J., Safford, M., Sidney, S., … & Kertesz, S. (2012). Association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function over 20 years. JAMA, 307(2), 173-181.
- Arria, A. M., Caldeira, K. M., Bugbee, B. A., Vincent, K. B., & O’Grady, K. E. (2015). The academic consequences of marijuana use during college. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 29(3), 564.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2021, June 7). Marijuana DrugFacts.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (n.d.). Know the risks of marijuana.
- Windle, S. B., Sequeira, C., Filion, K. B., Thombs, B. D., Reynier, P., Grad, R., … & Eisenberg, M. J. (2021). Impaired driving and legalization of recreational cannabis. CMAJ, 193(14), E481-E485.
- Schulenberg, J., Johnston, L., O’Malley, P., Bachman, J., Miech, R., & Patrick, M. (2019). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2018: Volume II, college students and adults ages 19-60. The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research