The 1936 film “Reefer Madness” depicted how marijuana would turn America’s teens into manslaughtering, hallucinating, suicidal maniacs! While the majority of Americans are aware that these claims hold no resemblance to actual marijuana users, anti-marijuana lobbyists are still producing propaganda that is rife with false claims. This week we discuss some of the more outrageous items, and the (correct) facts behind them.
Reported: In 2015, Project SAM (Smart Approach to Marijuana) states that “Today, the Department of Health and Human Services found that heavy marijuana use among casual/monthly users – defined as 20 or more days of marijuana use per month – significantly increased among 12-to-17 year-olds in 2014 compared to 2013.”
Fact: The National Survey on Drug Use and Health released statistics from their 2013 report stating that roughly 451,000 teens reported smoking marijuana 20 or more days per month. But, in 2014, that number dropped to around 400,000, making it the lowest it’s been since 2009.
It is important to note in this instance that after the numbers were pointed out to Project SAM, Kevin Sabet, the group’s director, issued a retraction and released a corrected press release shortly thereafter.
Reported: Professor Wayne Hall, the adviser on addiction to the World Health Organization, stated that a “20-year research study” found that marijuana “makes you stupid,” that “smoking marijuana over the long-term can develop cancer” [SIC], and that marijuana is “as addictive as heroin.”
Fact: It is not impossible for an individual to become addicted to marijuana. Multiple studies have shown that around 9% of high-volume marijuana users can have a lifetime dependency. This is in comparison to an alcohol dependency rate of 15%, heroin at 23%, and federally legal nicotine at 32%, ranked amongst the highest of any stimulants. So while dependency can be an issue with high-volume users, the likelihood of dependency amongst casual users is little-to-none.
Reported: Users of marijuana are more likely to display criminal behavior.
Fact: The only part of this statement that could be construed as correct is that some studies have indicated that there may be higher marijuana use among criminal offenders. But correlation does not equal causation. In fact, there have been dozens of studies that there is no causal relationship between marijuana use and crime. In reality, when it comes to things like violent crimes, it’s been found that alcohol is a much more significant factor than marijuana. The National Academy of Sciences even found that in chronic marijuana users, THC causes a decrease in “aggressive and violent behavior.”
Reported: Users of marijuana have an increased risk of cancer.
Fact: All smoke that is inhaled contains carcinogens, including smoke from your campfire. Studies also found that even heavy marijuana users will typically consume much less marijuana than traditional tobacco smokers. In fact, a 2006 UCLA study concluded that heavy marijuana use does not lead to lung cancer.
In a quote given to Rolling Stone, the study’s lead author said “We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. What we found instead was no association at all and even a suggestion of some protective effect.”
We will also state that these claims are strictly based on those that inhale marijuana through smoking. There are several different ways to consume marijuana that do not involve smoking.
What are some of the more outrageous claims you have seen from anti-marijuana organizations? Let us know on Facebook, or on Twitter @mmdotcom!