1. Marijuana makes you sterile.
Scientific studies conclude that marijuana has no permanent effect on either the male or female reproductive systems. While lab studies show heavy marijuana use may slightly lower sperm count temporarily, comprehensive evidence shows there has never been even a single case of infertility or reproductive abnormality due to marijuana. Likewise, there has been no evidence that marijuana lowers testosterone output in males.
Cannabinoids in themselves are neither mutagenic nor carcinogenic, though tars from smoking marijuana may be carcinogenic, and therefore not recommended for pregnant women. However, cannabinoids that are ingested by other means have no effect on pregnancies, and sometimes are even used to treat severe morning sickness or ease childbirth.
2. Marijuana kills brain cells.
This myth was initially falsely perpetuated from a few experiments with that showed structural changes (not brain damage) were found in animals that were exposed to extremely high levels of marijuana. However, legitimate studies of human beings who were heavy marijuana users in Jamaica and Costa Rica found absolutely no evidence of abnormalities in brain physiology.
A 1977 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed no evidence of brain damage in heavy users of marijuana. That same year, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially lent its support to decriminalizing marijuana.
Marijuana use does inhibit short-term memory loss, but that effect disappears once the subject is no longer under the influence of marijuana, and shows no long-term effects.
3. Marijuana is bad for the immune system.
This myth comes from studies where rats were given doses of cannabinoids so high they were almost lethal, similar to the studies with brain cells. The cannabinoid receptor inside their spleens was the same place their immune cells reside, leading to speculation that high levels of marijuana negatively affect immune systems in humans. In fact, there is no evidence marijuana use compromises human’s immune systems. Quite the opposite, it has many medical benefits and is frequently prescribed by the best doctors in the world for patients with auto immune diseases like HIV, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, etc.
4. Marijuana prohibition improves public safety.
Despite 50 years of prohibition and criminalization, there is not one shred of evidence that marijuana use jeopardizes public safety. Born out of the scare tactics of “Reefer Madness” back in the 1940’s and 1950’s based on racial fears and a power grab by the head of the head of the ATF, the rumor was floated that marijuana drives its user crazy, and turns them violent or sexually charged. They also tried to include marijuana in with all illegal “drugs” in data and studies, justifying its illegality. But there is not one single legitimate link to increase in violent crime, aggression, civic irresponsibility, or misconduct. Quite the opposite, actually, if you look at evidence from states like Colorado and Washington where marijuana has been legalized.
While we all agree marijuana shouldn’t be smoked when someone is operating a motor vehicle, it has proven to be far less concerning than drinking and driving. An economic analysis of the effects of decriminalization on marijuana usage found that states that had reduced penalties for marijuana possession saw a rise in marijuana use and a decline in alcohol use as expected, but fatal highway accidents actually decreased.
5. Marijuana is a “gateway” drug that leads to hard drug use.
Another example of marijuana being lumped in with more dangerous drugs, the incorrect myth is that in effect criminality breeds greater criminality. But a perfect case study can be found in Holland, who legalized marijuana in the 1970’s. Since then, hard drug use like cocaine and heroin have actually declined.
In fact, there is no medical or scientific reason why marijuana should be classified as a narcotic or hard drug, and is far less damaging to society than tobacco or alcohol. In 1990, the annual report of the California Research Advisory Panel stated that, “An objective consideration of marijuana shows that it is responsible for less damage to society and the individual than are alcohol and cigarettes.” They recommended marijuana be legalized.
6. Marijuana is More Dangerous Than Tobacco.
There are memes floating around by the American Lung Association that try to demonstrate that smoking marijuana causes far greater damage on a smokers lungs than cigarettes. What they fail to mention is that the average tobacco user might smoke a pack a day by themselves, while marijuana smokers tend to smoke far less to get the desired effect. Also, there are water pipes, vaporizers, and other apparatus to help clean and purify the smoke being ingested by pot smokers. Lastly, there are a host of edibles for users to safely ingest marijuana with zero carcinogens, to which the American Lung Association has no answer or comment. Of course, we can guess their anti-marijuana propaganda campaign is based on big donation checks by parties who have a vested interest in marijuana criminality (Big Tobacco/the prison complex, etc.)
On the other side, even smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco causes mouth and throat cancer. Nicotine products have a 90% addiction rate, while marijuana has been proven to be less addictive than caffeine.