Marijuana Myths
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Marijuana Myths

"Marijuana Myths" are products of over-zealous politicians, the media and smokers themselves, whoever the spreader of misinformation, I intend to debunk a few of the more popular myths.
     The Cannabis plant, contrary to popular belief was not made illegal through some process involving scientific, medical, and government hearings, it was in fact victim of a “smear campaign”. Many people now look back at things like "Reefer Madness" and laugh "How silly where people about pot back then" we say. In truth we have no right to laugh, marijuana, a very safe, completely non-toxic plant remains illegal, any many myths and lies still exist surrounding marijuana. Most of these "Marijuana Myths" are products of over-zealous politicians, wielding poorly executed and outdated research, still other are propagated by modern media and smokers themselves, whoever the spreader of misinformation, I intend to debunk a few of the  more popular myths.

Myth #1 Marijuana Cause brain damage 

This myth,which has been around a long time, is usually sited as all  marijuana opponents  crowning argument, as it is widely accepted as true, accepted even by a large percentage of educated public. I start with this one because its prevalence in modern media, the most well know marijuana myth,we can all recall commercials of a frying egg and being told "This is your brain on drugs." You may even recall your health teacher, or parents telling you how many brain cells a puff of ganja smoke killed,some even site research, purported to show how monkeys, who where force to inhale marijuana, suffered from some form of brain damage. Most politicians , health teachers, and concerned parents must have been speaking of a study by Dr. Robert Heath, who  did a study in the late 1970's that appeared to show that rhesus monkeys who inhaled enormous amounts of marijuana had subsequent brain damage. Numerous issues have been raised by Dr. Heaths scientific methods, and conclusions,  including a very small sample size (4 monkeys), no experimental controls, bias ( he was a biological psychiatrist, and it was in his interest to come to the findings he did ), and poor administering of the "drug", including extremely heavy doses. In his test the monkeys were forced to inhale smoke that contained a very heavy dose of marijuana via a gas mask like apparatus, possible causing oxygen deprivation, which of course could lead to brain damage. Even after turning all the variables in his favor, high does of THC, low Oxygen, carbon monoxide, and testing only 4 monkeys, he then misreported (accidentally I assume) healthy brain Rhesus monkey brain structures as damaged. 

The Truth

In 1977, around the same time, two studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)  showed no evidence of brain damage (in either the structure or chemicals) in heavy users of marijuana. These studies, accepted by the scientific community, were  discarded by anti-marijuana crusaders. That same year, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially came out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. Extensive studies in populations of human marijuana user shows no correlation to brain damage, and no major studies have come close to replicating Dr. Heath's conclusions.

Myth #2 Today's Marijuana is stronger than in the past.

This too is a very popular myth, today marijuana is said to be much stronger than the marijuana of the past, and as such contains more of those ”brain deadening chemicals” or more of the stuff that will destroy your reproductive systems, kill your sperm, or do whatever ills today's super strong marijuana is said to inflict on its poor users nowadays.

The Truth

The original researchers who made the claim  used as their baseline the THC content of marijuana seized by police in the early 1970s. Poor storage of this marijuana in  evidence rooms without temperature control, caused it to deteriorate and decline in potency before any chemical test could be performed. Contemporary, independent study of unseized "street" marijuana from the early 1970s showed a potency equivalent to that of modern "street" marijuana. Interestingly, the strongest form of marijuana that was widely available was sold legally in the 1920s and 1930s by the pharmaceutical company Smith-Klein under the name, "American Cannabis". If in fact today's marijuana were stronger than the marijuana of the past, and marijuana did cause damage (of whatever kind) this information is still misleading, because that would mean that one would have to consume less marijuana for the desired effect limiting the amount of damage . I will state that there is a danger from smoking marijuana, the same danger that can be incurred from inhaling any burning material, but this could be completely eliminated by using the substance in a different manner.

Myth #3 Marijuana lowers testosterone

This myth, according to my research, which has been around since the early 80's seems to pray on peoples homophobia, if you smoked weed you could get boobs, have low sperm count, or a smaller member, and be less of a man, and in fact a study a R. C Kolodony in 1974 reported decreased testosterone levels in men who smoked marijuana frequently. This myth is widely believed, even among some marijuana users and has been widely portrayed in modern media, in movies and television.

The Truth

This frequently quoted study, holds a number of methodological faults that have been repeatedly criticized by the scientific community. In fact, the results of this study could not be confirmed by a larger well-controlled study with chronic marijuana users . No difference in serum testosterone level was found either at the beginning of the study or after three weeks of heavy marijuana consumption. In fact, no difference was found in ANY human hormones as a effect of heavy, even chronic marijuana uses so in addition marijuana also does no damage to the reproductive system. So smoke on, have no fear, those man boobs more due to the brownies than the weed contained therein.

Myth #4  Marijuana Is A "Gateway" Drug

This should in fact be myth number one. This myth is a persistent little sucker, having been around  for as long as I, or anyone i know can remember. The theory goes that that the use of less deleterious drugs may lead to a future risk of using more dangerous hard drugs and crime, you smoke a joint and before you know it your robbing Grannies for dope money. This myth is the result of bad data, I will admit that most people smoke a joint long before their 1st hit of "smack" most users of heroin, LSD and cocaine have used marijuana. However, most marijuana users never use another illegal drug. 

The Truth

Smoking Marijuana in no way increases the likely hood of becoming a drug addict, it will not make you crave heroin, you wont go out and rob banks, and if you do, well thats you take some responsibility. Over time, there has been no consistent relationship between the use patterns of various drugs.As marijuana use increased in the 1960s and 1970s, heroin use declined. And, when marijuana use declined in the 1980s, heroin use remained fairly stable.For the past 20 years, as marijuana use-rates fluctuated, the use of LSD hardly changed at all.Cocaine use increased in the early 1980s as marijuana use was declining. During the late 1980s, both marijuana and cocaine declined. During the last few years, cocaine use has continued to decline as marijuana use has increased slightly. In the words of comedian Katt Williams "Weed does lead to other things, mostly Doritos"

Myth #5 Amotivational Disorders 

 The origins of this myth go back to the 1960s.  It has been engrained in the pop culture image of a pot smoker; lazy, burned out loser.  It has been a common theme in all the recent anti-pot ads.  Despite evidence to the contrary concern over marijuana’s effect on motivation continues today.

The definition of motivation changes with different cultures around the world.  Not everyone who is motivated reflects the stereotypical Western values of motivation:  does well in school, works hard for their boss or performs in lab tests.  Some of the most successful people in the world are high school drop-outs including Richard Branson,Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Ronald Reagan, Wright brothers and Albert Einstein.  Yet these are the criteria often used in testing of amotivational syndrome.

The Truth

Clinical depression shares basically the same set of symptoms (fatigue, poor concentration, apathy).  There are a sub-set of pot smokers who are self-medicating their depression.  This group is far from the majority of users though.  To prove cannabis as a cause of such a syndrome takes the same criteria used in the Gateway Theory Myth(Association, Temporal Antecedence and Isolation).  Marijuana use must precede and correlate with amotivation to cause it.  The symptoms must not have any other causes such as depression or personality.  There have been several studies that try to show these criteria but they all failed.

Laboratory studies of humans and primates offer very little support for amotivational syndrome.  School performance does not vary with pot consumption in college students.  Employment data show no links between marijuana use and lower wages, poor work performance or job turnover.  No studies show the pervasive lethargy, dysphoria, and apathy that the myth claims should appear in all heavy users.  Some studies actually show that marijuana users are more likely to go on to earn a graduate degree.

Marijuana does not cause serious health problems like those caused by tobacco or alcohol (e.g., strong addiction, cancer, heart problems, birth defects, emphysema, liver damage, etc.). Death from a marijuana overdose is impossible. In all of world history, there has never been a single human death attributed to a health problem caused by marijuana .  No one has every died from an overdose or marijuana, ever, coffee and water cant say that. Marijuana  doesn't   lower testosterone, it wont lead you to using harder drugs, or cause brain damage. Marijuana doesn't make you stupid, or lazy, and you  cant get addicted. Legalize marijuana and life would be better for most people.

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