FROM THE YELLOW JOURNALISM OF THE 1950S TO SOME OF THE SKEWED RESEARCH WE SEE TODAY,

there are a lot of misconceptions about using marijuana. As a person who has used this substance recreationally just about every day of my life for the last 30 years, I feel that it’s time to clear some of these up.
Before we begin, I should point out that I am no starry-eyed hippie or drug-crazed, half braindead junkie. I’m a successful business person with a distinguished career behind me. I have, however, endured legal harassment, invasion of privacy and the disdain of those who simply don’t understand that these myths aren’t true. Let’s bust them!

MARIJUANA MYTHS

1. MARIJUANA IS A ‘GATEWAY DRUG’

We’ll start with this one because there is an element of truth in it – but only because one buys marijuana from drug dealers! That’s right – I have never felt the urge for a ‘higher high’ although I will say I was initially surprised to find that the effects of marijuana are relatively mild.

If I’d been looking for hallucinations or mad euphoria, I might have moved on to something stronger. I was certainly offered all kinds of things through my ‘underworld’ contacts. I’ll admit to wondering if they were also a lot milder than I’d been led to believe.

By making marijuana illegal, the authorities place users in a position where they are in contact with people who will sell them other illegal drugs. For this reason alone, it can be a ‘gateway drug’, just as alcohol was once a gateway to the mafia!

2. MARIJUANA DUMBS YOU DOWN

I never believed this, but it’s nice to see a study that shows I’m right. A study on twins showed that if one used pot and the other didn’t, IQ was not affected.

A kind old lady I used to work for when I was a student once said to me: “I’m sure you can’t be using that stuff anymore because you are getting such high marks.” She looked so hopeful that I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth. Besides, she was my boss.

I wasn’t going to say “Well actually, I smoke marijuana several times a day even though I am a straight-A+ student.” She simply wouldn’t have trusted me to be reliable and trustworthy. She would have kept an eye on the cash register, because everybody knows you can’t trust a ‘drug addict’. That brings us to…

3. MARIJUANA IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE

It’s easier to quit marijuana than it is to give up cigarettes (take it from me), and you can be physically addicted to alcohol so that you suffer unpleasant physical symptoms if you don’t drink. Scientific American says that 91% of the people who use marijuana are not and will never be addicted to it. What about the other 9%?

They are psychologically addicted to pot. You can be psychologically addicted to sleeping with your favorite pillow. Even sugar is more addictive than pot! I personally quit for an entire year, just to see what it was like. After all, I had been smoking weed for my entire adult life. I experienced no cravings, my work performance was the same, and I didn’t even feel different in any significant way.

4. MARIJUANA SMOKE CAUSES LUNG CANCER

Even I’d think this a pretty logical notion. OK, so you aren’t going to smoke 20 joints a day, but that smoke is pretty strong, right? CBS news quotes a 2006 UCLA study that expected to find a correlation between smoking marijuana and lung cancer, and here’s the crazy thing: they found NO SUCH connection!

At least I’ll know it was the darned cigarettes if that ever happens to me. I don’t even know why I smoke them other than that I’m addicted.

5. MARIJUANA MAKES YOU CRAZY

Um. No. there are concerns about teens using it because their brains are still developing, but my brain was presumably in the same state when I was 15 and started using pot, and I’m boringly sane. So are my doctor, and my accountant, and my lawyer, and they all use it to a greater or lesser degree too.

As for you going on the rampage because you’re stoned, it’s not going to happen. You might have a fit of the giggles, raid the fridge or go to sleep, but that’s as far as it goes. Occasional users do experience paranoid thoughts. I’ll vouch for that, but a little rational thought, which you are quite capable of even when you’re stoned, soon gets you straightened out.

If you’re already a bit of a nut case, you might go over the edge, but I’ve never actually seen or heard of that happening. A study on teen substance use published in the journal Clinical EEG Neuroscience says: “Heavy marijuana users show some subtle anomalies too, but generally not the same degree of divergence from demographically similar non-using adolescents.”

Shall I give that to you in simple language? “Your brain is a teeny bit weird, but the kids who are drinking are doing a heck of a lot worse.” All the same, I wouldn’t recommend pot for the very young. Maybe I’m just becoming conservative in middle-age. And teens are a bit crazy to begin with. I don’t think it’s a good risk.

6. MARIJUANA TAKES AWAY YOUR MOTIVATION

Marijuana users who are looking for a great excuse to be losers can and do blame it on the weed, and people just believe them. It’s the biggest lot of nonsense! Speaking from personal experience, I earned and saved enough to put myself through university, passed cum laude and went on to be a career achiever.

Sure, these days, I’m taking things a little more slowly. I’m tired of all the pressure, and besides, I’ve saved enough for my retirement. I prefer working from home these days, and I make enough to get by. My only problem is working too hard because I can instead of need to! Mind you, I like it.

Alright, so there’s a study that says pot decreases dopamine, which decreases motivation. Read the news report on it to the end and you’ll find that similar studies didn’t get the same result. Scientific research needs to be replicable to be believable!

7. MARIJUANA CAN KILL YOU

Researchers in Germany say they believe that marijuana can be linked to deaths from heart arrhythmia. However, if you read about it, neither they nor anyone else can say just how that happened. To be taken seriously? Probably not.

I also know of a researcher who is famous for saying that the only way marijuana can kill you is if someone drops a bale of it on top of your head from a high building. Now that I can believe! (Note to readers: do NOT try this at home, it probably works!)

SO DO I THINK PEOPLE SHOULD SMOKE WEED?

No. I think people should be allowed to do anything that doesn’t harm others directly or even indirectly. If they want to use no psychoactive substances, fair enough. I simply believe that people are uninformed, and as a result, inclined to be judgmental. I hope this helps to clear the record.

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