Major Marijuana Myths Getting Busted
Prohibitionists often trot out the same stale arguments against marijuana. Today more scientific studies are blowing those old assertions about cannabis right out of the water.
Paul Armentano, National NORML’s Deputy Director and Freedom Leaf’s Policy Director, highlights the most important research in two recent posts at Alternet.com.
In “Debunking The Myth That Pot Fries Your Brain” he takes on a series of misconceptions that made headlines in recent years.
Back in 2014 the mainstream press went wild over a study conducted by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine that smoking cannabis somehow changes the brain. It is often repeated by anti-reform politicians.
However the true test of any research is that it can be replicated. In this case Armentano notes it could not.
…authors theorized that the observed differences reported in 2014 were likely due to the participants’ consumption of alcohol, not pot. They concluded: “[T]he results indicate that, when carefully controlling for alcohol use, gender, age, and other variables, there is no association between marijuana use and standard volumetric or shape measurements of subcortical structures. … [I]t seems unlikely that marijuana use has the same level of long-term deleterious effects on brain morphology as other drugs like alcohol.”
Another all-too-common theme is that marijuana somehow lowers IQ. Armentano cites several new studies showing that cannabis consumers’ intellect is not at risk.
More recent analyses further support the notion that cannabis use alone does not have an adverse causal effect on either IQ or academic performance. A 2015 study by Meier and colleagues published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence reports that the effects of persistent adolescent cannabis use on academic performance is “non-significant after controlling for persistent alcohol and tobacco use.”
Then there is mental illness. While many consumers find relief from many mental and behavior health conditions with cannabis the fear-mongers often say otherwise.
Armentano lays out the facts.
Writing in 2013 in Schizophrenia Research, investigators compared the family histories of 108 schizophrenia patients and 171 individuals without schizophrenia to assess whether youth cannabis consumption was an independent factor in developing the disorder. Researchers reported that a family history of schizophrenia increased the risk of developing the disease, regardless of whether or not subjects consumed marijuana as adolescents.
In “Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug, So Why Do Leading Republicans and Democrats Say Otherwise?” Armentano took on the most often used foil of the prohibitionists.
As for the longstanding belief that cannabis use sequentially precedes the use of other illicit substances, newly published research refutes this claim as well. Writing this month in the Journal of School Health, investigators at Texas A&M University and the University of Florida, reported that the use of alcohol and tobacco typically precedes cannabis exposure in polydrug consuming subjects. The study concludes, “[A]lcohol was the most widely used substance among respondents, initiated earliest, and also the first substance most commonly used in the progression of substance use.”
Hopefully soon more myths will be busted than cannabis consumers.