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Top 10 Marijuana Myths and Facts

Sort out the reality from the rumors about smoking pot

Marijuana; Myths

DENVER, CO - APRIL 20: Tyler Shumway of Aurora, Colorado lights up a joint as thousands gathered to celebrate the state's medicinal marijuana laws and collectively light up at 4:20 p.m. in Civic Center Park April 20, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Colorado goes to the polls November 6 to vote on a controversial ballot initiative that would permit possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for those 21 and older. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about marijuana, so we’re breaking down 10 of the most persistent myths about the drug – and giving you the real facts instead. Is pot prohibition working? Can casual use lead to addiction? Read on to find out the answers to these and more questions.

Marijuana; Myths

ROCKLAND, ME - JUNE 28: Maine Caregivers Marijuana program. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

4

Myth: Most pot smokers are heavy users

Fact: Between 40 and 50 percent of people who have tried marijuana report a lifetime total of fewer than 12 days of use. About one-third of pot smokers report having used mariajuana for 10 days or less in the past year. About 6 million of America's 30 million users over the age of 12 use pot on a daily or almost-daily basis according to household survey data – a fifth of those who say they have used marijuana in the past year – but they account for about 80 percent of all marijuana consumed.

Sources: Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know

Marijuana; Myths

Two prep school girls smoking marijuana

Stewart Cohen/Getty

3

Myth: Marijuana is a ‘gateway’ drug

Fact: Kids who use marijuana are statistically more likely to go on to use other drugs, but that doesn't mean marijuana use causes use of other drugs. The same factors driving marijuana use probably explain use of other drugs. A report by the Institute of Medicine found "no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs."

Sources: Institute of Medicine, Time, Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know

Marijuana; Myths

man wearing suite in a car smoking marijuana

Aaron Black/Getty

2

Myth: Marijuana is completely harmless

Fact: Heavy use can be harmful. Since pot smoke is chemically very similar to tobacco smoke, heavy pot smokers are at risk for some of the same health effects as cigarette smokers, like bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses. Again, though, the risks are from smoking, which isn't the only way to use marijuana. Another hazard: car accidents caused by driving while high, though the risk is lower than from drunk driving.

Sources: NORML, National Institutes of Health, Harm Reduction Journal, Scientific American

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