Five Things You May ‘Know’ About Marijuana That Aren’t True

By Steve Elliott

The bulk of my writing is done for a pot-savvy audience, so it usually goes without saying that certain “cultural perceptions” about cannabis are wrong. To correct these marijuana myths to a crowd of potheads would be a classic case of singing to (an albeit higher) choir.

As editor of a pot website, I live and breathe marijuana (see what I did there?) every day, and have a great chance to fully inform myself.

But when speaking to members of the general public, I’m often struck (and stop that! It hurts) with the wide prevalence of beliefs about marijuana that have been scientifically disproven for years.

How many of these myths have you trusted lately?

1. One joint equals a pack of cigarettes.

This hoary old favorite comes back again and again, seemingly impervious to the onslaught of the real world.

Prohibitionists earnestly tell us that smoking just one joint “equals a pack of cigarettes.” Or maybe it’s 16, or maybe just four cigarettes; they seem a little unclear on the exact number.

This fallacious conclusion is derived from a study by Dr. Donald Tashkin in which the UCLA researcher examined airflow resistance in the lungs of tobacco smokers compared to that in the lungs of marijuana smokers. Dr. Tashkin did find that daily pot smokers experience a “mild but significant” increase in airflow resistance in the large airways, greater than that seen in persons smoking 16 cigarettes per day.

But what they don’t tell you is that, ironically, Dr. Tashkin also found – in the largest study ever of its kind – other, more important markers of lung health, in which marijuana smokers did much better than tobacco smokers. In the four years since Dr. Tashkin’s latest study results were announced, I’ve never heard a single anti-marijuana speaker mention this.

They also never seem to have time to mention that Dr. Tashkin’s study unexpectedly found that smoking marijuana – even regularly and heavily! – does not lead to lung cancer.

Dr. Tashkin said these results “were against our expectations.”

“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,” Dr. Tashkin said. “What we found instead was no assication at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.”

2. Medical marijuana has been a huge problem in states where it is legalized.

The mass media narrative seems to be “Maybe there are a few patients who need medical marijuana, but legalizing cannabis for medicinal use has led to huge problems in California. Do we really want those here?”

When pressed on exactly what those “huge problems” are, anti-marijuana zealots will usually offer up the “more pot dispensaries than Starbucks in Los Angeles” argument, saying something about dispensary proliferation being “out of control.”

What they don’t mention is that the situation in Los Angeles is entirely due to a lackadaisical city council that took more than two years to draw up an ordinance regulating the dispensaries, thus opening the door to their uncontrolled proliferation.

Neither do they mention that in cities such as San Francisco and Oakland, where city governments have been on top of the developing marijuana dispensary scene for years, there haven’t been any such problems.

Not only do these cities have orderly, well-run, reputable marijuana dispensaries, but in the case of Oakland at least, the city is now reaping millions of tax dollars from the shops – which, in what may be a first for American business, asked to be taxed.

Remember, there are 13 other states besides California that have legalized medical marijuana. Have you heard about nightmare scenarios occurring in those?

States such as New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Maine have set up systems of state-authorized marijuana dispensaries to carry out the will of the voters in giving patients safe and legal access to medical marijuana. The system hasn’t produced major problems, and is working as intended.

The other favorite argument of pot prohibitionists is that marijuana dispensaries are supposed to somehow “attract crime.”

This one seems to be particularly near and dear to the hearts of small town police chiefs, as evidenced over and over by their apparently earnest (but completely inaccurate) testimony at city council meetings.

Dispensaries, in fact, have lower crime rates than either banks or liquor stores, according to the Denver Police Department, which certainly should know, since they have 300 of them in town.

The police chief of Los Angeles agrees. “Banks are more likely to get robbed than medical marijuana dispensaries,” L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck told the Los Angeles Daily News.

A look at the facts quickly tells us that all types of crime are, in fact, down in states with marijuana dispensaries.

3. Legalization is a slippery slope. If we legalize pot, what’s next? Cocaine? Heroin? Meth?

The evergreen popularity of this baseless bugaboo is a bit puzzling.

The answer is easy and obvious. While the legalization of marijuana now enjoys majority support, according to recent polls, support drops precipitously for relaxing the laws around any other drugs.

Pot’s closest competitors, ecstasy and cocaine, each have only 8 percent support for legalization. Heroin and meth are even lower at 6 percent each, according to Angus Reid Public Opinion.

Legalizing pot won’t open the floodgates; in fact, the increased visibility of marijuana in American society only serves to highlight the stark differences between cannabis and most other illicit substances.

The American people know the difference between marijuana and hard drugs. Most Americans know someone who uses marijuana without it destroying their life. It’s not hard to see the chasm that separates pot, and its users, from the desperately addicted scenario that goes with substances like heroin and methamphetamine.

4. If we legalize pot, there will be carnage on our highways. Look at what we’re already facing with alcohol. Do we really want MORE impaired drivers?

The simple truth of it is, there are already millions of marijuana smokers using our roads and highways every day.

With estimates of current marijuana users in the United States running between 40 and 100 million, you can bet that if weed really caused wrecks, it would be a national tragedy on the level of drunk driving.

If marijuana resulted in motor impairment anywhere near the level produced by alcohol, those gory findings would have made banner headlines across the land – as has been the case with alcohol.

Many of us have, hopefully in our younger years, discovered on a very personal level that driving under the influence of alcohol is an extremely bad idea. But think about it: How many in your circle of friends have a “I was so high I totaled my car” story?

While I’m not encouraging anyone to take bong hits then rush out onto the freeway, a growing body of evidence indicates that marijuana is, on balance, far less a road hazard than is alcohol.

The tendency for stoners to overcompensate for whatever slight impairment occurs is one reason that marijuana-related car crashes aren’t in the headlines every day.

Even the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which in its understandable quest for respectability is very cautious around the stoned driving issue, grants: “…Emerging scientific research indicates that cannabis actually has far less impact on the psychomotor skills needed for driving than alcohol does, and is seldom a causal factor in automobile accidents.”

5. If we legalize it, everybody and his brother will become a flaming pothead.

Some of the pot prohibitionists have an interesting view of human nature. They think that as humans we are mostly seething cauldrons of pent-up desires just waiting to express themselves, if only legal repercussions weren’t in the way.

Now, I’m willing to grant this may be a reasonably accurate self-assessment for some of these guys, but for the rest of us, it’s just not so, when it comes to the pot laws.

The laws against marijuana been a spectacular failure in preventing its use. Since pot was made illegal more than 70 years ago, its popularity has risen almost every single year – even as the laws against it became more and more draconian in many locales.

The most extensive study ever taken on U.S. marijuana arrests and penalties, released last November, found that marijuana arrests have no impact on usage rates.

Meanwhile, another approach has been tried in places like the Netherlands, which relaxed its pot laws in the 1970s and has since seen teen and overall marijuana use at a level half that of the United States.

Those of us who make marijuana policy reform our work welcome an open, serious debate on the issues surrounding cannabis re-legalization.

All we ask is that in that debate, everyone should at least stick to the facts and not cling to outdated, shop-worn superstitions from the 20th Century.


103 Responses to Five Things You May ‘Know’ About Marijuana That Aren’t True

  1. thomas February 27, 2010 at 9:05 am

    The RAND corporation conclusively studied the gateway theory and found it bunk.

  2. x1134x February 27, 2010 at 9:26 am

    And it counts! Splits the uprights! Nothing but net! Great article!

  3. x1134x February 27, 2010 at 9:36 am

    When arguing with people unfamiliar with marijuana and only familiar with the propaganda, use this logic: Marijuana use has no victim, i.e. no one runs to the cops or calls 911 when to report themselves for smoking marijuana. Since this is the case the BEST possible interdiction rate will be miniscule. You can catch, stop, or prevent only 2% or less of the activity, meanwhile that other 98% is sending MONEY to the worst possible people in society. In addition to losing that money every year, we’re wasting millions in tax dollars to obtain a paltry 2%. If the system were re-designed to treat marijuana like alcohol many societal problems are solved overnight, the cartels stop receiving the vast market share of marijuana, the tax payer catch a break if the marijuana is taxed, and millions of dollars are not wasted, apprehending, investigating, prosecuting, and incarcerating non-violent people who would be contributing to society and the tax base instead of draining it. These extra funds can be used to treat the CAUSE of drug abuse, instead of funding cartel killings.. .. .. The truth is that legalization does not change who uses marijuana, it doesn’t change how much money will be spent on it, it just changes WHERE THE MONEY GOES for it.

  4. Peter Lunk February 27, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    point #6

    Dutch government elections might form a coalition that closes all coffeeshops while many other countries are reforming to the standards set by previous governments in the shape of the worldfamous gedoogbeleid (acceptance policy)


  5. Geoff February 27, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    your five ‘facts’ aren’t really facts, more like arguments/opinions.

    • Mike February 28, 2010 at 1:20 pm

      Anti-Marijuana panels will tell you they are facts. Just like in the 1930’s when they told everyone it causes “incurable insanity” and was “worse than cocaine and heroin combined”.

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  7. Bob Labala February 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I could use a joint about now 🙂

  8. Byron February 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    You points for #4 have no facts or testing proving your argument. Your quote basically comes from an organization that is completely inline with your own views. Your other points are well argued and backed by facts and quotes from much more relevant sources.

    I have no facts or evidence against driving while high but i will say that when i’m around my friends when they’re high i don’t think they should be doing anything other than sitting down.

    One other minor nag i have is that in point 2 the paragraph that beings with “Neither to they mention that in cities such as San Francisco and Oakland”, the “to” should be a do. :-p

    • jojo February 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm


      • Devin February 28, 2010 at 12:32 pm


      • Arthur March 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm

        I invoke Godwin’s Law.

    • Mike February 28, 2010 at 1:17 pm

      Byron, how about personal experience. I have driven drunk and high, the only thing wrong with my driving when I’m high is I drive slower. When I was drunk, I don’t drive drunk anymore, I wanted to go as fast as possible, even though I would stumble to my car. Never stumbled or fell down from being high either, I have drunk.

    • DarthNole March 3, 2010 at 11:10 am

      To add to #4:

      It should be noted that the ONLY psychoactive ingrediant in marijuana is THC. This is the chemical that causes the “impairment” and the obvious concern for other drivers. However, what is the recommendation on the legal prescription drug Marinol which contains 100% THC (not the 7-24% that the whole plant provides) for driving?

      “Do not engage in activities requiring alertness and clear thinking, such as driving or using machinery, until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely.”

      Prohibitionist always like to throw Marinol at you when discussing the medical benefits (there’s already a legal alternative). But they conveniently forget about it when they try to use fear (traffic accidents will rise) to gain support from Americans.

      • joebonghit March 4, 2010 at 10:50 am

        WRONG…there are many psychoactive ingredients in cannabis…including THC CBD CBN and others…we are just learning how these substances interact with each other and our brains…as far as Marinol I don’t know for certain, but if its like other pharmaceuticals its not 100%…but has fillers in it too.

        • Arthur March 4, 2010 at 3:02 pm

          Either way, the argument is persuasive. If even the warning label just says to learn how you react before you get in a car and drive. . .

  9. Byron February 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    haha and just to prove we’re all human, my first you should be a your*

  10. D-Lo February 27, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    As a motorcycle rider I can personally attest to writers rebuttal of #4. When i first began riding my bike I was amazed the amount of Marijuana I could smell lingering in the air while riding down the freeway. At least once a day and sometimes it’s pretty strong.

  11. jojo February 27, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    wow smoking and driving is not safe but it is safer than drinking, texting, talking on a phone while driving.

    do a trick find someone stoned out of their minds and a drunk. now take a pair of tennis balls. throw one at the stoner and they will avoid the ball(may not catch it but avoid it) now do the same to the drunk. the drunk will reply “why did you do that”? the drunk wont care they were just hit or threatened to be injured they will just want to know why.

    the stoner at least has common sense to avoid the ball. now do the same trick to someone texting or someone on the phone. all will fail but the stoner!

  12. February 27, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    I’ve don’t use marijuana myself, but I’m the first to sign all those legalize petitions – the 5 myths are just so patently absurd it’s offensive.

    In a small way, I like to think I’m doing my part in helping legal marijuana dispensaries by getting them marijuana merchant accounts to accept credit cards. Taking an industry out of the cash-only realm can only help to legitimize it in the long run.

  13. Mike February 27, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    What about the myth that Marijuana isn’t addictive and you won’t go through withdraws if you suddenly stop frequent use.

    I’m all for legalization but if you’re going to tout all the good things about it, at least remind people that there are some bad too.

    • steve February 27, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      mike: so you’re saying that weed is addictive and you will go through withdrawal symptoms?

      i just got fined over 1000 bucks for possession and paraphernalia and have stopped smoking due to money. i smoked almost daily and the first two days after i stopped i wanted to smoke pretty badly but after that smoking has barely crossed my mind. the only reason i think its difficult to quit is not because of addiction but rather habit. I didnt have any physical withdrawal symptoms and psychologically i just had to have self control for a day or two and i got over it.

      i’ve never heard of anyone being addicted to weed or suffer from withdrawal so i dont see where you got that it is addicting.

      • Sheilah Blanco February 27, 2010 at 11:05 pm

        You actually had withdrawls coming off pot???? Huh. I didn’t. I even found baggies w/subst. amt. in them months after I said no, tossed them out w/o hesitation. (quit at the prospect of a good job, it was nothin’. Got the job too.)

        • Rob February 28, 2010 at 7:14 am

          Well, if you’re used to doing something, you can experience some minor anxiety if you break the habit. I like to chew gum while I’m working. I could stop doing that if I wanted to, but I’d feel a bit weird about it. I am by no means addicted to gum, nor will I experience any withdrawal symptoms. But I’ll have the urge to dig out my gum if I sit down to work, because I’ve ingrained the habit.

          • Devin February 28, 2010 at 12:38 pm

            Very well put. I fully agree.

      • pquiddy February 28, 2010 at 11:58 am

        Weed has been proven to be an addictive substance to some (like 7-9% of smokers), but like you addressed, it is just a recreational drug and can simply be habitual, without any severe withdrawals, for most.

        • Paddy February 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm

          69.32% of statistics are complete fabrications. Do you have a study to back you up?

        • rufio zeus February 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm

          “To some (7-9%)”

          did u know games can be addictive to some (9-10%)
          did u know internet can be addictive to some(no figure,sry)
          did u know tofu(soy bean curd) can be addictive to some????

          ever heard of “Addictive Personality” ? funny thing about this is that research shows that SOME (8-10%)of us may have Addictive Personality ….

          now, AFTER knowing this vital information…
          can u conclude that games, internet, food(tofu) and weed can be addictive based on that 7-9% addiction rate out of 100%?

        • at February 28, 2010 at 5:02 pm

          It’s too bad everyone is voting down on your post, when you’re just stating the truth. We shouldn’t deny this just because we want to believe its completely non-habit forming. It shows that it’s significantly less addictive than alcohol and cigarettes, even if they are some people who become addicted, even just habitually.

          • Arthur March 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm

            Ok, I think you’re missing the point. Some substances are addictive. addictive substances are defined as those substances which create a physical, chemical dependency in the brain or body of the user. these substances include opiates, some synthetic opiates, nicotine, methamphetamines, and so on. Marijuana does not create a physical dependency in the user. Therefore it cannot be an addictive substance.
            “Some experts describe the spectrum of behaviors designated as addictive in terms of five interrelated concepts: patterns, habits, compulsions, impulse control disorders, and physical addiction. Compulsions differ from patterns and habits in that they originate for the purpose of relieving anxiety. Impulse control disorders, such as overeating, constitute a specific type of compulsive behavior that provides short-term gratification but is harmful in the long run. In contrast to these various types of potentially addictive behavior, physical addiction involves dependence on a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and well-defined physiological withdrawal symptoms.” – Encyclopedia of Psychology, April 6, 2001

      • hannah March 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm

        It depends on how you define “withdrawal symptoms”. It’s also very dependent on the individual person. Obviously withdrawal from weed isn’t going to have you vomiting your guts out in agony like withdrawal from heroin, but I smoke weed fairly heavily and if for some reason I don’t have some for a few days, I get more anxious, I have trouble sleeping, and I’m way more irritable. I agree with you that a big part of it is habitual, but I think I personally have a low-level physical addiction to weed, and I’m sure other people do too. It’s more comparable to the withdrawal you get going through trying to quit smoking cigarettes than it is to withdrawal from something like smack.

    • JIMMY March 1, 2010 at 10:05 am

      I went a few months here and there smoking weed but i could quit whenever i wanted.In fact,i would get tired of it and just stop.I do recognise that some people have addictive personalities and would have difficulties stopping.

    • outsideinthecold March 1, 2010 at 5:41 pm

      Myth: Marijuana is Highly Addictive. Long term marijuana users experience physical dependence and withdrawal, and often need professional drug treatment to break their marijuana habits.
      Fact: Most people who smoke marijuana smoke it only occasionally. A small minority of Americans – less than 1 percent – smoke marijuana on a daily basis. An even smaller minority develop a dependence on marijuana. Some people who smoke marijuana heavily and frequently stop without difficulty. Others seek help from drug treatment professionals. Marijuana does not cause physical dependence. If people experience withdrawal symptoms at all, they are remarkably mild.
      • United States. Dept. of Health and Human Services. DASIS Report Series, Differences in Marijuana Admissions Based on Source of Referral. 2002. June 24 2005.
      • Johnson, L.D., et al. “National Survey Results on Drug Use from the Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-1994, Volume II: College Students and Young Adults.” Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996.
      • Kandel, D.B., et al. “Prevalence and demographic correlates of symptoms of dependence on cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine in the U.S. population.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 44 (1997):11-29.
      • Stephens, R.S., et al. “Adult marijuana users seeking treatment.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 61 (1993): 1100-1104.

    • Elle March 3, 2010 at 11:22 am

      I’m sorry, but that is simply untrue. Sounds like someone was reading up their Reefer Madness.
      I used to be a major POTHEAD. I used to smoke the finest marijuana in my area all day and night…even at work! I did it because I could not for any other reason. When I quit (because I found out I was pregnant, and didn’t want to deprive the fetus of an oxygen supply nor have the baby taken away from me because they found it in my system) I didn’t experience any withdrawl symptoms at all. I was fine.
      There is something to be said about addictive personalities. I, for one, do not have one since regardless of trying many different substances including but limited to alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, etc I never craved to do any of those things again.
      Sorry, but someone REALLY needs to fix this Reefer Madness way of thinking!

  14. Sheilah Blanco February 27, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Currently, I am a sober person 100% of the time. I can smoke pot if I want to, But the high of pot does not compare with sobriety by a long shot.

    I used to smoke pot, and grow pot. I also became an alcoholic working in the bars. I myself could not deal with something like driving while stoned, nor could I do anything like work under pot’s influence. The stone itself is not conducive to either. Which may be why it’s not near as the hazard on the roads as is alcohol.

    Alcohol tells you you’re 10 ft. tall and bullet proof. Pot makes you ultra ultrasensitive. They’re two totally different highs. But the combination of the two is absolutely lethal; Pot is an intensifier so each alcoholic beverage you consume under the influence of marijuana is more like 3. (I tried both and passed clean out after 3 drinks inside of an hour…..this from a woman who could easily kill a fifth and start in on your 12 pak till you beat her off of it).

    Regardless of the confidence rendered by alcohol, one DWI was enough to put the kabash on driving while intoxicated for me, so I wasn’t known to drive unless sober bulletproof or not (did I establish that marijuana rendered me unable to drive?).

    After being continuously sober for 10 yrs coming up this May. Today, if I want to drive or work, I just get in the car and go to it.

    But knowing all sides of the argument, I’d far rather deal in a society that used marijuana than alcohol. I’d far rather see alcohol as the “controled or outlawed substance”. At least on marijuana, I was never stupid enough to get in a fight……….I can’t say that for sobriety let alone drinking booze.

  15. ED February 27, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    This crap was debunked in the 70’s but has been trotted out every time the “war on drugs:” comes under attack for what it really is – a way to churn more money through the system to fund covert operations in foreign lands, launder money from covert weapons deals and manipulate foreign governments and peoples, (eg, Noriega); a way to control the people in this country; and a way to keep the big pharmaceutical companies in their monopoly role

    • Arthur March 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm

      Wow. You gonna tell me we staged the lunar landing next? You know, conspiracy theories like that are a major reason why ignorant people think the worst of pot-smokers. You sound like a bad joke from a bygone era.

  16. Jake Bennett February 27, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I do agree that, at the very least, medical marajuana should be legalized and left to the state levels. But….
    1) Of course banks are going to be the victoms of a higher robbery rate. (Name one person you know that would take an unlimited amount of marajuana over money..?)
    2) You cite Angus-Reid which is an online public opinion website that uses sample sizes of around 1000 people that actively seek to give their opinion on an issue.
    3) The marajuana/alcohol argument shouldn’t be used. How do you match up consumption rates when arguing that it is safer to drive high than intoxicated.

    • Elle March 3, 2010 at 11:33 am

      Believe me, someone that’s high is far more aware of what’s going on…this coming from someone that has driven high or drunk. I will NEVER drive drunk again…WAY too dangerous.

    • Arthur March 4, 2010 at 3:41 pm

      In response to Jake –
      1) – I believe the point he was making was exactly that. Banks have higher robbery rates, but we don’t outlaw them, do we?
      2) – Polls are, by their very nature, flawed and easily tampered with. Results from polls, both online and off, are easily changed based upon phraseology and Hobson’s choices. So you’re going to tell me that the poll is invalid because it’s online?
      3) well, blood alcohol content is a fairly standard way. I hate to devolve to saying ‘It’s magic’, but unfortunately I don’t understand the science well enough to explain how it’s done. Rest assured that the intoxication levels were similar in the studies.
      Secondly, the point here, I think, isn’t so much that people drive better stoned than drunk, it’s that people already DO drive stoned, and aren’t causing death and destruction or getting caught near as much as drunk drivers . . . which means they’re driving more cautiously and sanely. As any cop will tell you, If you’re driving dangerously, any cop who sees you is gonna pull you over. If you’re driving relatively normally, they scan your plate for warrants or theft, and then move on to the next car.

      • Arthur March 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

        Sorry – on no. 3 – was thinking of the blood tests which determine actual psychoactive content in the blood – which would work for both marijuana and alcohol. ^^ BAC was my brain wandering. lol

  17. vapor king February 27, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Legalize it, definitely, also they should develop a way to put it in the electronic cigarette to help people with the smoke inhalation. Google the electronic cigarette and you will see that it vaporizes liquid nicotine and then it turns into a vapor instead of smoke. I read some stuff online about people using marijuana with it. Would be pretty interesting concept.

  18. electronic cigarette February 27, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Yeah I have heard of that, we run an electronic cigarette website. Never tried it but it would be pretty awesome if you ask me.

  19. fiddle February 27, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    I was with a friend who smoked pot one day while we were together. His performance was dismal—and he had NO CLUE!

    It was heart breaking to see how diminished his sharp intellect was after only one joint. If a bright mind can be so affected, how much less can the rest of us, average people, afford to fool around with our brain?

    Marijuana should be legalized for medical purpose only.–leave recreational use to those who have no brain to affect.

    • Steve February 28, 2010 at 1:01 am

      I can only assume you’re talking about short term effects, ie diminished intellect while high. I don’t deny that you’re correct, after smoking a joint or two I definitely am not able to solve difficult problems or code (I’m a programmer by education and career). However, when not high I function at full capacity. I can easily manage work, my classes, and keep my 3.7 GPA. I smoke daily and have been for the last 9 months. I wouldn’t really call getting high (and the resulting diminished mental capacity) “heartbreaking” as long as it doesn’t interfere with my responsibilities. It’s really just a time waster, as much as playing video games or watching TV. It’s how I choose to spend some of my free time when I wouldn’t be doing anything productive .
      It’s this “all or nothing” attitude that is the root cause of this anti-legalization attitude. Yes, there will be a minority of people who abuse pot smoking instead of being productive, however that is no worse that Word of Warcraft; some people abuse that too while the vast majority can balance their lives and use WoW (or pot) recreationally to fill in the

      • Tom February 28, 2010 at 3:59 am

        As someone who has smoked pot and played World of Warcraft i can sadly and honestly say i’ve seen more peoples lives ruined by that videogame than marijuana.

        also i’ve totally smoked pot on many occasions and i’m a graduate student in physical chemistry and particle physics. Trust me pot wont make you any more stupid than watching Fox

        • design guy February 28, 2010 at 5:37 pm

          As a graphic designer working from home, I feel my productivity and creativity increase while under the influence of marijuana. I generally have more interest in my work, and creative ideas come more easily. Because of this, I feel I am actually more productive after I smoke. That being said, there are other tasks that would be harder to perform while high (finances, etc.), but I don’t think it really “diminishes your intellect,” your brain just processes info differently.

    • Dr February 28, 2010 at 12:28 pm

      As a practicing physician in the United States and occasionally in Canada, instead of taking shots of hard liquor at the end of the day, a small joint can go a long way instead to relieve stress.

      This is a very popular and healthy alternative to dealing with stress in the work place in my occupation.

      From personal experience, I can say that marijuana has very little effect on my and fellow co-worker’s profession.

      Mind you, this is from personal experience, and does not have any literature to back it up.

    • Paddy February 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm

      When I’ve had a few beers I’m generally in no state to work out difficult problems or operate heavy machinery, but that’s ok in your book? Or should we all remain teetotal?

    • Random March 2, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      Wow man you have no clue, and you are sober! I pulled a 1540 on my SAT’s stoned to the bone, however when I’m sober my brain seems diminished..higher education rules:)

      • Megatropolis March 3, 2010 at 3:37 pm

        Nice timing…

    • DarthNole March 3, 2010 at 11:15 am

      So do you admit that you have no respect for Individual Responsibility/Liberty? If you do not harm another person, should what you are doing be a crime?

  20. Ben February 28, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Hi all. Just to quickly preface this, I am a Traffic Psychologist who actually worked on a briefing on cannabis use and smoking for my government. As such I have read much of the research on the issue, and would like to address point #4.

    The poster is correct in stating that the majority of research on the topic shows that cannabis impairment is likely to be less than the impairment caused by alcohol. HOWEVER, it also shows that you should not drive while impaired by cannabis. The results are not as bad as driving impaired by alcohol, but they are still bad.

    It does seem to be true that to some extent drivers under the influence of cannabis drive in such a fashion that attempts to compensate for their known impairment. This means that they most likely do not do as many stupid things as impaired alcohol drivers (who are in general overconfident). However this compensation is not complete, and the simple fact is cannabis drivers are still impaired, and if the situation on the road goes unexpectedly wrong (which is the cause of most accidents) a cannabis impaired driver is worse off.

    This is of course not even mentioning the fact that there is quite a bit of cross over between those that a) drink alcohol and b) smoke cannabis – and research most definitely shows a combination of those two drugs is bad news for driving.

    Furthermore the argument presented here that there are already lots of people driving on cannabis but there is no carnage on the roads is rubbish. There is no major after crash testing for cannabis that I am aware of in any state in the USA. So if there were crashes being contributed to by cannabis it would go undetected.

    It worries me to see pro-cannabis groups (and I am not anti-cannabis myself, I live in the Netherlands and support their liberal views on the matter) push this driving line. Because in most cases it comes across as “its safe to drive under the effects of cannabis because that’s not as bad as alcohol” – to me that sounds like saying “its better to be poisoned than burn to death” sure, one is “better” but they both suck.

    So in summary, you are correct in that cannabis is likely less impairing on the road than alcohol. However this…does…not…make…it…safe – any legalization of cannabis should also come with addition of laws and enforcement prohibiting its use while driving.

  21. pettitj February 28, 2010 at 1:14 am

    that is a very small test sample 322 pot smokers and 12 had a psychotic illness total play on the stats so thats means pot cause psychotic illness or they smoke pot because they have a psychotic illness to many variable to prove anything just another myth

    • jjabrams February 28, 2010 at 4:02 am

      Anti-Marijuana people could find a reason not to smoke pot even if it cured cancer and shot marshmellow ponies everywhere bias studies are a dime in a dozen.

  22. maaaannnn February 28, 2010 at 3:53 am

    ” cling to outdated, shop-worn superstitions from the 20th Century.”

    this reminded me, there probably should be a focus to update or change the outdated laws and more important things we have wrong before pot. but i guess pot is the most important thing on potheads minds these days. go figure.

    • Megatropolis March 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm

      Uh, yeah, there are more pressing issues, but marijuana legalization isn’t at the top of (or even on) the agenda of most politicians. If you are suggesting that there’s a surplus of attention going to marijuana legalization that could be going to more pressing issues, you’d be wrong.

      But to act like legalizing pot is all about catering to potheads is to get the problem waaay wrong. Did you ignore the posts about where the money goes on account of it being illegal? And I don’t know if you realize this, but it’s actually kind of a major problem that so many young people’s lives are ruined simply because the decided to try pot and were unfortunate enough to run into trouble with the law.

  23. Getreal February 28, 2010 at 4:04 am

    Let me put it to you this way: If you’re sick and you’re gonna have a delicate surgery, would you be ok that your surgeon smokes pot on a regular basis?
    People try to justify anything and everything, and they will always do. Don’t look away, might look back in a couple of years and find cannibalism legalized.

    • Adam February 28, 2010 at 10:19 am

      Do you ask your surgeons their alcohol intake habits? I’d take a steady handed marijuana user for a surgeon over an alcohol user with shaky hands. Fear mongering doesn’t work anymore getreal, unless you work for or watch FoxNEWS.

    • Joe Schmo February 28, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      Great logic. Do you drink alcohol? Would you perform a surgery after drinking? No. Why would it be any different with marijuana?

    • Paddy February 28, 2010 at 3:43 pm

      The leaps in logic some people can take to defend prohibition is mind boggling.

  24. Feldwebel Wolfenstool February 28, 2010 at 6:07 am

    “against our expectations” What kind of REAL scientist would be so stupid as to say such a ridiculous thing? Sounds like the Pigs were behind the scenes, paying this turkey for the results the swine wanted to see. Too many cops addicted to paycheques, that’s the real problem with dope.

  25. Tom February 28, 2010 at 6:25 am

    @Getreal – the same logic applies to legal alcohol.

    As for the point about driving, it can be summed into one sentence:

    “A drunk driver will run a red light, while a stoned driver will stand at a green one.” 😀

  26. Bill February 28, 2010 at 6:53 am

    This is the most arrogant article ever. My hope is that not everyone will believe what they read about one research study. Look a little deeper folks before we consider letting America’s teens using marijuana legally.

    • Mike February 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm

      No one mentioned legalizing marijuana for teenagers. I’m sure the same laws for alcohol would be applied to marijuana. Nice try though…NOT THE CHILDREN!! haha

    • Paddy February 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm


      • Elle March 3, 2010 at 11:44 am

        LMAO….we are…guareenteed, they’re behind the bleachers rolling a fat one right now

    • Random March 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm

      I think you wrote that statement for yourself, as you definitely need to research, and look a bit deeper! I would rather my teen smoke pot than drink alcohol based purely on the death statistics on either substance.

    • DarthNole March 3, 2010 at 11:29 am

      All the more reason to have a legal regulated system in place.

      Do you think that the drug dealers in your kid’s playground care about checking IDs?

    • Beth March 3, 2010 at 2:18 pm

      Mike, come on. We all know how easily teens get alcohol now. The same will happen with marijuana. Nice try.

  27. alex7575 February 28, 2010 at 8:00 am


    Thank you for shedding yet another light into how ignorant our society has become when it comes to drugs, specially Marijuana.

    There’s a harm to every indulgence, the point is, that even when used as a recreational drug, marijuana poses no more health risks as it does alcohol (actually it’s been proven that it causes LESS damage than alcohol), yet alcohol remains legal whereas marijuana not only illegal but also demonized.

  28. potsmokersarehomos February 28, 2010 at 9:06 am

    lol y don’t u homo go smoke pot off a dude’s dick u smelly rotten hippies get a life

    • Mike February 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm

      Keep kissing boys in the closet, kid.

      • nate February 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm


    • Elle March 3, 2010 at 11:47 am

      I love men…then again, I’m a straight women…so if I can find some pot and smoke it off a willing man…sign me up for that!!!!

    • james March 4, 2010 at 7:38 pm

      why dont you go learn proper spelling and grammar first?

  29. Rob February 28, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Just running their reported numbers through a Fisher test indicates that the effect isn’t significant. I didn’t go looking to find out what their statistical methodology is, but it’s not likely to be particularly profound.

    I also wonder whether there are confounding factors that might be present in the pot smoking group and not in the other group, and vice versa. We might find that we’re not measuring people who use pot vs. people who don’t, but rather people who use drugs vs. people who don’t. If there are some meth addicts in the pot use group, that might explain the results better than the pot use does.

  30. James February 28, 2010 at 10:34 am

    comments like these is why meth should always be illegal.

  31. Joseph Godfrey February 28, 2010 at 10:37 am

    The issue is that parents are scared for their kids dealing with drugs … The way the alcohol prohibition ended was that people understood you can drink in moderation without getting drunk. We set an age limit and today it’s a just accepted … The right path for marijuana usage is the medical field and it’s thousands of other practical uses – Quit trying to sell concerned parents with the idea that “getting high” is just good fun, because it won’t work.

    • Beth March 3, 2010 at 2:23 pm

      Sorry, but prohibition didn’t end because people wanted to drink. It ended because of the depression – they wanted a way to raise tax money and put people back to work. In fact, the majority of the public supported prohibition at the time. It worked for what it was meant to do. It cut alcohol use and all the problems it causes in half. You can bet when marijuana is legal (and it seems it’s coming) we’ll look back and see in hindsight that the law wasn’t so bad after all. If it’s good medicine let’s get it through the FDA and knock off the idea of legalizing it for everyone just to get high. Nice message for the kids – it’s OK for adults to get high, not you. And don’t bring up alcohol. It is possible to have a drink and not get high/drunk. The only use for pot is to get high.

      • Megatropolis March 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

        Yes, it’s true that with alcohol, you can just get “tipsy” or “buzzed” or “warm” or whatever you wanna call it, instead of drunk.

        But do you really think there’s no such distinction in the level of effect from marijuana?

        You’re obviously just making assumptions. I don’t know if what you’re referring to is being tipsy or simply not being particularly affected on account of having a certain tolerance for alcohol, but either way, both can and do happen with marijuana.

        Just as with alcohol, the extent and manner in which this is possible depends on the person, but don’t think for a minute that “the only use for pot is to get high.”

      • Will March 5, 2010 at 5:50 pm


        Don’t take this the wrong way, I respect your logic but you said it would be a nice message to the kids…the very first time you gave your kids kool aid or soda, they got high..the very first time you gave them cough medicine, they got high. Your kids spin in circles just to get dizzy..displaying a desire for a different state of conciousness that’s innately human. What you should say is “It’s ok if it’s prescribed to you” because you said if its good medicine, let’s get it through the FDA, which I totally agree with but you contradicted yourself when you said ” The only use for pot is to get high” When you reply to my message, please expound further on what you feel the positive benefits of drinking alcohol are versus the negative side effects and then compare this to marijuana use and it’s pro’s vs. cons. In my opinion, and that’s what were all expressing here, the only negative side effect of marijuana use is it’s illegal status.

  32. SteveMcQueen February 28, 2010 at 10:47 am

    While I agree with most of these points I did have a couple contentions. First, in regards to driving stoned, it is a horrible idea and I do have friends who have gotten into wrecks driving high. Both situations involved merging on the highway and not being able to correctly gauge their speed and distance of the upcoming vehicles. People who are high do NOT need to be driving. Marijuana can impact your sense of speed and spatial reasoning, two things kind of important in successfully driving without dying. William S. Burroughs, a prominent pothead and junkie of the beat generation who advocated the legal use of most drugs (pot included), agrees with me on this fact.
    Second, you mentioned marijuana usage hasn’t decreased due to arrests, well murder rates, breaking and entering rates, opiate usage rates, and rape rates also do not decrease because people are afraid to get arrested. Now, these rates do decrease and increase over time while marijuana usage has been on the incline, but the fact is, in general, the penal code is not an effective deterrent. People set on committing crimes will do them; prohibitive laws are only deterrents to those of us who probably not go rape or kill someone unless under utter distress. I believe legalizing any kind of formally illegal activity would likely cause a modicum of an increase in that activities occurrence. BUT unlike rape and murder, I agree that legalizing marijuana (while an increase in usage would occur) would in no way shape or form cause society to become a bunch of cheeto fiending pot heads.

    I really liked this article and it is important that people are educated so those who wish to prevent the legalization of pot can’t spout of false facts hoping they will not be discovered. I just felt I needed to play devils advocate and point out certain things that needed to be said, or were redundant to the rest of society as a whole.

    • DarthNole March 3, 2010 at 11:31 am

      I’m glad you support the article, but I’d like to point you to something you may not have considered:

      It should be noted that the ONLY psychoactive ingrediant in marijuana is THC. This is the chemical that causes the “impairment” and the obvious concern for other drivers. However, what is the recommendation on the legal prescription drug Marinol which contains 100% THC (not the 7-24% that the whole plant provides) for driving?

      “Do not engage in activities requiring alertness and clear thinking, such as driving or using machinery, until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely.”

      Prohibitionist always like to throw Marinol at you when discussing the medical benefits (there’s already a legal alternative). But they conveniently forget about it when they try to use fear (traffic accidents will rise) to gain support from Americans.

  33. brady February 28, 2010 at 11:30 am


  34. mid calf boots February 28, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I pretty much agree with all of these points. First off, comparing a single joint to a pack of cigarettes is just ridiculous. A pack of cigarettes produces way more tar and carcinogens.

    And the fear that everyone will become a pot head is ridiculous to. I mean, I’m pretty sure that anyone who really wants to smoke is going to smoke, despite the legality. Sure, there are some people that are hesitant and might be more inclined to give it a try if it’s legal, but it certainly isn’t everybody.

  35. Jon February 28, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I have no problem with anything you’ve said. but i have a hard time believing that between 40 and 100 million people currently smoke pot. i especially have a hard time with the broad end of that spectrum considering the current U.S. population is only 305 million. 1/3 that’s almost impossible and seems a little ridiculous. so check your facts next time.

  36. Joe Schmo February 28, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I have driven all around this country stoned (since the day I got my license) and I follow all traffic laws (sure sometimes I speed 5-10mph over) and I have literally never been in a traffic accident. That would be impossible for a person who drinks alcohol and drives.

    • Ben February 28, 2010 at 10:41 pm

      Actually no. Its perfectly statistically possible for a drunk driver to also never be in a traffic accident. Your anecdote can be beaten by many other anecdotes by drunk drivers. In fact this was often a point made by drunk drivers before it was illegal “I have driven drunk all my life and never crashed, it must be safe!”

      The fact is a sample size of 1 is never scientific.

      • say March 1, 2010 at 11:21 am

        large majority of good drivers can/do drive while high, but:

        stoned texting = crash

  37. Vapor King March 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    many of the stigmas surrounding marijuana just arent true

  38. xodc. March 2, 2010 at 10:17 am

    BOTH of my jobs insist that I come into work AFTER smoking, because I perform better on the job. Oh and btw, I’m a waitress and a delivery driver.

  39. Random March 2, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Marijuana kills no one, how can it even be compared with lethal substances like alcohol, cocaine, meth, or the largest killer of them all, Dr.prescribed pharmaceuticals?

  40. billwhit March 3, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I have been smoking cannibis 40 years, held high security jobs with the military and the DOJ, own homes in two different countries, worked my butt off all my life, and I am the father of four and grandfather of eight, all within 15 minutes of me, completed my degree, along with growing my own medicene and using cannabis on nearly a daily basis. Doctors say my lungs and heart are great, along with the rest of my health. The way I look at it is, the Bible says that God put every seed Man would ever need, upon the earth. Man makes Alcohol, God gave us Cannibis Seeds! Who do you think I trust?

  41. DarthNole March 3, 2010 at 11:04 am

    To add to #4:

    It should be noted that the ONLY psychoactive ingrediant in marijuana is THC. This is the chemical that causes the “impairment” and the obvious concern for other drivers. However, what is the recommendation on the legal prescription drug Marinol which contains 100% THC (not the 7-24% that the whole plant provides) for driving?

    “Do not engage in activities requiring alertness and clear thinking, such as driving or using machinery, until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely.”

    Prohibitionist always like to throw Marinol at you when discussing the medical benefits (there’s already a legal alternative). But they conveniently forget about it when they try to use fear (traffic accidents will rise) to gain support from Americans.

  42. DarthNole March 3, 2010 at 11:26 am

    That article was published the day after Steve published this one. Wait til the actual research is released and what problems are found.

    In the 80’s we heard about how marijuana smoke killed brain cells (it one of the thought that kept me from trying it earlier). Did you know that the study that the idea was formulated around came about because the scientist put gas masks on monkeys to simulate long term marijuana use. He then pumped marijuana smoke into the gas masks for hours on end. The monkeys died and during autopsy they found that brain cells had been killed. they related this to the marijuana. What they didn’t account for was the NORMAL process of cell death that occurs in the brain when the brain lacks oxygen for extended periods of time. It wasn’t the marijuana smoke that killed brain cells but the lack of oxygen.

  43. Elle March 3, 2010 at 11:39 am

    That was proven false…sorry to burst your bubble

    • Elle March 3, 2010 at 11:40 am

      and by that, i meant the article of the “study” done in Australia…sorry

  44. Ray March 3, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I think of drugs (including pot) as tools. However the effects are highly individualized. If the usage is inapporpriate so too will be the results. Legislation can not be applied to responsibility or self knowledge; and those are the crucial factors…and no study has ever measured those. Fact is, neither our consciousness or reality itself is completely understood yet…so any conclusions we make thus far is likely to be wrong or, at the least, incomplete. Of course we must make do with our understandings as they are…but keep an “open mind”. Don’t judge others.

  45. Mitch March 3, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    +1 this post if you are puffing right now.

  46. Kaeli March 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I think that the “War on Marijuana” is so ridiculous. People who are Anti-legalization are deluding themselves into believing all these things about marijuana that are not true. The bottom line is that I am graduating with a 3.73 from a top college in May and I smoke marijuana at least once a week if not more. I have, personally, smoked with at least 25-30% of the population at my school (small school), despite the administration claiming <3% have smoked marijuana in the last year. Before I turned 21, I could find marijuana a million times easier and faster than I could alcohol. Clearly the laws are doing nothing and are for nothing.

  47. Will March 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    The tendency for stoners to overcompensate for whatever slight impairment occurs is one reason that marijuana-related car crashes aren’t in the headlines every day.

    I love it. The author just very beautifully stated how every pot user in the world goes into that subconcious “did i do that right” mode. Did i do that right? Did you see that? OH CRAP im doing 46 in a 55..I better speed up…lmao

    How much longer can the vested interest groups that keep cannabis illegal stand against the will of the people is the real question. Once we overcome that hurdle, cannabis will be legalized overnight. It is good to see the perception changing in Washington though. Just what Obama has done for the legalization movement so far is enough to guarantee him my vote next election! A damn fine President…

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