Legal medical marijuana is gaining traction internally, and yet widespread misconceptions about medical use of the drug are leaving advocates frustrated.
On Sept. 21, an American TV journalist even quit her job on air—using a choice expletive—after revealing that she is, in fact, the owner of the legal medical marijuana business on which she was reporting.
Here are three misconceptions, along with the real medical facts of marijuana, that the public ought to know have been busted as medical (and in some places, even recreational) cannabis legalization moves forward:
- Myth 1: Marijuana Is Addictive
There are two kinds of addiction: physical and psychological. Physical dependence occurs when a drug alters a person’s body chemistry. Many drugs do this, but it appears that marijuana isn’t one of them. Those who do have trouble quitting marijuana are simply struggling to break the habit, and are not suffering from addiction in the chemical sense. Those who use this argument against medical marijuana should keep in mind that many legal prescription painkillers do, in contrast to marijuana, cause physical dependence and are at high risk of being abused.
- Myth 2: Marijuana Is a ‘Gateway Drug’
There is a correlation between those who use marijuana and those who use harder drugs. The problem with using this fact as “proof” of the dangers of marijuana is that correlation is not equal to causation. As far back as 1999, researchers from the National Academy of Sciences told Congress that although hard-core drug users often use marijuana first, this is simply because it is the most widely available illicit drug, and therefore the one that future drug users encounter first. The public, however, has held onto this myth just as strongly as ever in the last 15 years.
- Myth 3: Marijuana Has No Valid Medical Use
People who oppose the use of even legal medical marijuana often state that cannabis has no real medical benefits, and those who claim to need it for medical purposes just want to get high. But in fact there are several medical benefits of marijuana use. Cannabis can be used to reduce the nausea and vomiting that are common side effects of chemotherapy, to calm muscle spasms and to treat pain.
What are some other common myths used to oppose legal medical marijuana? Do you know other useful facts about marijuana? Share in the comments.