Let’s get real about marijuana

April 14, 2015

marijuana-misconceptionsI smoked my first joint at 17. I hope you’re not shocked. Actually, I don’t care if you are and the reason will be clear if you read on.

It was the late 1960s and I was introduced to it by a young man who looked like Jesus. That’s all I remember. Oh, and that I was a little freaked out that I’d done it, but not enough to refuse it. “Pot” is what we called it back then, not the “weed” it’s called today. During college I continued to smoke pot like older kids drank. Like I said, it was the late 1960s and pot was in its hey dey. It and drawing peace symbols on black armbands. And stringing love beads. After college, as a young married, it was available as part of our social scene, just like cocktails.  It was just around.

It was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

It was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

Pot and hash were where it stopped for me. I never really got into alcohol, ever. I’m still not that into it. Later on–let’s say almost 20 years later, I enjoyed a brief flirtation with cocaine. When I started to want a serious relationship with it, I left and never looked back. But my house was never cleaner than when I did coke. And how lovely to be never hungry! But I said goodbye with nary a reservation. Because coke? It was a serious drug.

In my opinion, marijuana is relatively harmless–by FAR less harmless than alcohol, which is an established part of our culture but its use has killed far more people than pot. The abuse of anything can be detrimental to society and I don’t know why marijuana has been tarred with the same brush as, say heroin.  But the abuse of marijuana is only rarely harmful to society. I know potheads with hard-driving careers and I know potheads with no motivation. I don’t know potheads who abuse their wives after hitting the bong, though.

I’m not against smoking a joint every now and again. I see nothing at all wrong with it.

Some segments of our culture have demonized weed so that even its documented benefits as medicine are hard to come by in some areas. It’s like we can’t think of the herb as helpful in any way–it’s all or nothing.  And the misconceptions! So let’s talk marijuana misconceptions.


Studies showing effectiveness against some cancers are promising. Cure is a big word. Take it lightly here.


Marijuana Misconceptions

1. Marijuana leads to hard drugs.  Opponents claim it’s a gateway drug. Oh, this is a conservative staple but it’s bullshit.  Yes, virtually ever hard drug user has smoked weed first. But they’ve also drunk milk. Does milk lead to heroin use? No.  National Academy of Sciences panel observed, ‘There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular drug effect.’ The Canadian Senate’s Special Committee on Illegal Drugs also concluded that ‘cannabis itself is not a cause of other drug use…we reject the gateway theory.”

Some studies have shown clearly that marijuana use does not precede harder drugs. In Japan, most hard drug users do not start with pot. So, it’s a specious argument–superficially plausible, but actually, wrong.  When I was in grad school my statistics textbook was How to Lie with Statistics.  Anyone who watches Fox News ought to have that book by the remote. Those right-wing crazies are masters at it.  I love a good, intellectual conservative argument, but those are hard to come by, especially regarding weed.

2. Marijuana kills. More than 37,000 people die each year from just alcohol use. Excluding accidental death. No  one has died from marijuana use. American Scientist says that alcohol is one of the most toxic drugs and using just 10 times what one would use to get the desired effect could lead to death. Marijuana is one of – if not the – least toxic drugs, requiring thousands of times the dose one would use to get the desired effect to lead to death. This “thousands of times” is actually theoretical, since there has never been a case of an individual dying from a marijuana overdose. But the CDC says that hundreds of alcohol overdose deaths occur the United States each year.

3. Marijuana is harmful to society. Alcohol increases violent and aggressive behavior and is a factor in violent crimes. Marijuana use does not.

4. Marijuana harms health.  The health-related costs for consumers of alcohol are eight times greater than those for marijuana consumers. Alcohol poses far more and more significant health issues than weed. And actually, even Dr. Sanjay Gupta has pointed out the health benefits of medical marijuana.

It’s hard to believe that all these decades later, the same tired old arguments are being raised and even harder to believe that some people think they are true.

They’re not.  Let’s put these marijuana misconceptions to rest.

Just saying.

Do I think everyone should do weed? I don’t.

And especially not those in recovery.

But I see nothing wrong with it, medicinally or recreationally. And I think we are super-hypocritical about it when we look at the harmful effects of that American staple, booze.




76 comments on “Let’s get real about marijuana
  1. I was also a pot smoker in my earlier days and, like you, occasionally go there. I am in full agreement about legalizing pot–it’s not the dangerous drug people would have us believe.

  2. I smoked pot briefly in high school and when I consider the source of who freely distributed it to everyone I’m lucky it wasn’t tainted. The guy was a bit “off”. But that was it.

    Today in my disability community there are too many people suffering in pain every day of their lives. Conventional medicine does nothing to curb it, so they drive far in order to get some “weed”, and smoking it does the trick. In our state it’s legal, but for those who have to go elsewhere I say it’s time to legalize pot across the country. Living in pain is no life at all. Stop the Republican rhetoric (damn those guys) and let’s take care of one another. If their relative needed it, they would pass the law.

    • I just don’t get why they think a medicine that works should be banned. It just shows you how crazy-minded they are.

      • Christina says:

        You make a relevant point about banning something for medicinal purposes that works medicinally. After reading some blogs, there seems to be a discussion of how easy it is to decipher what’s accurate medical use and what is not. Even so, I see where you’re going with your point.

  3. I agree 100% that pot should be legal.
    I do worry about all the chemicals they use now to process it these days.
    It says on your list that it cures cancer?? Someone said that to me the other day too. One of our kids was just diagnosed so I definately need to look into that.
    For me I tried it a few times. I have epilepsy so as a kid I was embarrassed of seizures in front of my friends so I never wanted to not have control of my mind.
    I missed out on a lot of fun…

  4. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    I think it’s pretty harmless and even though I don’t smoke it personally, I think there are legit medical reasons for people to.

  5. While believe and know that their are medical reason for using. I still believe that people just like alcohol and cigarettes will abuse it.

  6. Lisa Froman says:

    Ha, I fall into the wine drinker category. That’s my guilty pleasure.

  7. marie says:

    While I have never done it, I do think it would be great medicinally

  8. First of, pot laced with anything? Uh, I’m 58, and have never run into that. That is another scare tactic.

    Also, grown with chemicals? I think not (know your grower)… but then again, look at what Monsanto has done to our food chain, you are EATING chemicals like round up.

    Third off.. begging for Vicodin to keep me moving is just ego crushing and shattering.

    fourth- I have never verbally or physically abused anyone when high. Never. Ever. Although I am a victim of alcoholic parents. I say victim because unless you have an alcoholic parent.. you wouldn’t understand. I will NEVER touch that stuff again. Drank enough to try to drown my sorrows about my childhood before I turned 20.

    So far as pot curing cancer? I don’t believe that for a second, however, when I was on chemo in 2007, hitting the bong kept me from puking my guts out.

    Now you wine drinkers? You can sit down every night with a bottle, IN PUBLIC, enjoy it, it relaxes you, yada yada. After you’ve downed half a bottle, you are loud and obnoxious. After I hit a bong, I am quiet, creative and pain free. How is that fair? How can it be fair that ALCOHOL which has been the cause of most of my emotional pain in my life, how can it be fair that BOOZE is legal and my medicine is not?

    Gah. Thanks for approaching this subject. I am hopeful that in my lifetime, medical mj will be legal in every state. I am also hopeful that someday, recreational marijuana will be legal. With age limits in place of course.

    PS: did you know this would get me to comment? I love you!

  9. Laura says:

    Plus it’s good medicine. People across the country are criminals because this good medicine isn’t legal. What a shame, too. They are simply seeking relief from bone pain related to cancer and cancer treatments; nausea from cancer treatments. Many people use cannabis to help control seizures when the allopathic/FDA approved anticonvulsants have failed or left them zombies. I live in Colorado and the recreational pot business has been fantastic for our tourism and has spurred the growth of an entire newly legal industry. People have this picture everyone is stoned and the streets smell like weed. Well…maybe in downtown Boulder but that’s what Boulder was like before January 1 2014.

    It needs to be legal everywhere, the cartels lose their power, the FDA and government get to control and tax the crap out of it. This is a no-brainer.

  10. Mary says:

    I never tried it nor do I have an opinion. As for right now, all I know is it is an illegal substance.

  11. I am a regular pot smoker…there I said it. I don’t drink alcohol at all I have seen to many alcoholics in my life. I did coke when I was in my 20’s and I had to laugh because I have the same memories of it. My house was spotless, I never looked better as far as my weight, but when I realized I was liking it to much I said goodbye and never touched it again. I smoked pot as a teenager and then left it alone for many, many years. I didn’t start smoking it again until after I was diagnosed with the Felty’s Syndrome. It was suggested by my Dr. when I was still living in KY because I have never been able to take narcotics of any kind. I am allergic to them. They make me itch and sick to my stomach. When I am in pain I can smoke a joint and get more relief than anything else I have ever tried. I’ve never understood how it is okay to drink but not smoke the reality is there are way more people addicted to alcohol than are addicted to pot.

  12. I love the way you presented the ‘case’, Carol. I just heard recently that an Indian got arrested in Dubai for carrying poppy seeds into the country. Poppy seeds (we call it ‘khus khus’) are an ingredient for some delicious curries and I’m sure the man took it in for that. Apparently it’s banned for the opium connection!! What do I say, except that the world is ruled by idiots! 😉
    PS: I’m curious about the clean house / coke connection.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I smoked pot all through college and have friends today, who smoke on a daily basis.
    The problem is not addiction, so much as it is lowering ones motivation. I’m sure alcohol and all addictions do the same thing.
    Smoking in all forms is hazardous to the lungs and to hold smoke in your lungs for an extended period of time is injurious to your lungs! If you’re using it medicinally for other types of Cancer and pain relief, it seems a small risk to make.
    I’d love to see the studies that show it grows brain cells. Every pot head I know or have known is dopey. No pun intended.
    Keeping it illegal is another issue and a stupid idea. Prohibition didn’t work either.

    • Kelly says:

      totally agree with all your points Jennifer!

    • I know so many functioning potheads it isn’t funny, including one with a high-pressure stock exchange job. Can’t say it did much to limit his motivation at all. Oh, did I say he also is an ace surfer? His days are at least 15 hours long with everything he does. Everyone is different. I know people who do it socially and those who do it medicinally for real reasons. People attach too much stuff to it that just isn’t true.

  14. Thank you, Carol, for a great and informative post. I don’t know how I made it through the sixties without every smoking pot, but I did. Perhaps because I started my family young and it was illegal. I was very much a flower child. I just wanted to add that I’ve heard of a couple of people with cancer going into remission by using cannabis oil. In one case, the man had gone through chemo and radiation and doctors had no hope for him. He’s young, has a family, and out of desperation tried cannabis oil and it seems to be working–no evidence of cancer for three years. The oil is not cheap but neither is any medical treatment these days.

  15. harriet says:

    Sounds like a tax idea idea to me. Our schools here could use the money.

  16. Jeanine says:

    I dont have an opinion on it either way. However, if it works for medical purposes I’m all for that. I’ve never touched it or any drug in my life never felt the need to, but if I needed it to save my life I would like thay choice.

  17. Liz Mays says:

    If it’s a good medicinal aid, then by all means, people should have access to it. I never really cared for the high it gave me, so if the doctor told me to smoke it, I’d be bummed. lol

  18. Britney says:

    I’ve actually never smoked anything in my life. I think that people are going to use it whether legalized or not.

  19. Wow. Wasn’t expecting this today. For me drugs have bad connections and memories. I stumbled out of my mother’s Munchausen world when I was 14. By the time I was 15 I’d done more than I ever wanted to or agreed to. Not a good thing. So I don’t care for pot much. I don’t know why it is so trippy for me, but I don’t like it, perhaps because I process it differently or because of associating it with very bad experiences. But it should be legal. It was criminalized as a way to bust people of color.

  20. As a resident of Colorado, be assured I’m thankful there’s no longer the question of legality of pot here. There are many other issues related to it that we all are learning to navigate, but let me just say it’s funny when my (nearly 30 year old) daughter arrives for visits letting us know she has “edibles” if any of us would like to try them. A different world, for sure. But much safer than alcohol, as you’ve noted… and as I can attest considering the number of loved ones whose lives have been ruined by liquor.

  21. Carolann says:

    I say if it floats your boat then go for it. As for me, naw…just don’t like or enjoy altered states. I don;t like booze either but hey, that’s just me. That’s the good thing about free will I guess!

  22. Christina says:

    I’m actually a supporter of giving it for medicinal purposes. I hate to see people suffer when something natural can help them!

  23. BellyBytes says:

    I admire your courage to start and give up things that can, even as you say are non-addictive, definitely not ‘encouraged’ by society.

  24. I cannot support an industry that has generated so much suffering for so many families not only in my home country by here in the US too.

  25. Interesting ideas. You have some valid points.

  26. Interesting views.. I did not know some of these advantages..

  27. Lana says:

    We legalized marijuana in Washington last year, and I’m all for it. There have been a few problems here and there, but for the most part it’s been a smooth transition. From personal experience with family members, I can say that alcohol is far more destructive than pot.

  28. Estelle says:

    It might not be dangerous like some other drugs, but it does seem to fry the brains of habitual users and the medical data supports that.

  29. Pot doesn’t bother me at all and I think there are some incredibly legitimate reasons and benefits (socially, medically, and economically) to legalizing it. In my home state, certain cities are making (minute amounts) legal…granted, it’s still illegal on a federal level. But, there is some progress being made. There are so many bigger issues for government to be concerned with. 🙂

  30. Robin says:

    Agree with you completely.

  31. Thank you for this!

    I like how well-presented your case is. Especially when you said that marijuana being a gateway drug is “stupid.” HAHA. I agree to that point blanc.

    I believe some people are against weed use just because they personally do not like it, which is a stupid reason to oppose anything at all.

  32. Dana says:

    Awesome article!

  33. Like this comparison with alcohol. I also like to compare cannabis smoking to obesity! I mean how hypocritical it is to frown upon substance use when people abuse their bodies everyday by eating junk! Seriously, that is even more filthy than weed, don’t you think? I hate junk food. but I do not advocate it being illegal. I feel like that’s how some people should feel about hash. Thoughts?

  34. Tim Wright says:

    Thank you for this useful article! Also, did you know that some prisoners get sentenced for life without parole just because they were caught illegally possessing marijuana? It’s as if they murdered a person or injected heroin. While I know that it is still illegal in a lot of states, at least give a reasonable punishment right?

  35. The use of marijuana and alcohol is a question of how responsible you are. I believe that everything that you take in excess is dangerous to your health. So it’s not a question of “to take” or “not to take”…it’s a question of…are you responsible enough?

  36. I too see nothing wrong with how ever they use it whether be it for medicinal or recreational, whats wrong is how people abuse it.

  37. larissa says:

    Wonderful post! Thanks so much for your realism and the way you explain everything! Thanks for sharing and being so open and honest! Your writing is definitely on par with your great views of the world!

  38. Silas Knight says:

    It’s interesting that people are so against marijuana as a medical drug. It’s amazing that it can actually have a positive effect on cancer! I don’t know if smoking it is the best, but it does sound like it has some medicinal benefits.

  39. GroWeed Club says:

    Hi, thanks for the great article. As a medical user and a friend of many a recreational and medicinal Cannabis smokers, we would love to see the day where the good ol erb is just like the Basil plants used by chefs.
    It sucks to be labeled a criminal or a lazy person because of using a beneficial plant.
    One love from the GroWeed.Club community.

  40. McKenzie says:

    It’s great to hear from people that have experienced using it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the legalization of marijuana.

  41. Selene says:

    Wow, what a great post! Love the comparison chart between alcohol and marijuana, definitely helps put things into perspective for those who may be unaware. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Heather says:

    You offer very strong counterpoints to these common misconceptions of marijuana use, especially the comparison between alcohol and marijuana deaths per year. Thanks for sharing your story!

  43. funnyfunk says:

    Great article this finally explains completely what I’ve been trying to understand.

  44. Marijuana—also called weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, Mary Jane, and a vast number of other slang terms—is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried, shredded leaves and flowers of Cannabis sativa, the hemp plant. Some people smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints; many use pipes, water pipes (sometimes called bongs), or marijuana cigars called blunts (often made by slicing open cigars and replacing some or all of the tobacco with marijuana).But I think Alcohol is better that it.

  45. Alex dunbar says:

    interesting read thank you for sharing. this made my mind to be more open

  46. James says:

    Great article!
    That’s right we have to more open-minded.
    Thanks for sharing!

  47. Matt says:

    Great article!
    So strange! I was just reading an article about “beer yoga” yesterday on the BBC website!
    Guess their trying to appeal to all demographics…lol

  48. Great article! I believe we have to be more open minded as well. I also wanted to shout out the guys at The Source. They have a large selection of bongs and water pipes for those looking for a quality vaping experience.

  49. Thank you for the detailed post! Smoking is the most common way of using medical marijuana. It provides immediate effect and the patient has the ability to control the dosage.

  50. You hit so many good points! It really is time for legalization to occur, mainly because of the great advantages that medical marijuana can provide to those with health issues. Great post, so good to see people openly express the pro’s of decriminalizing marijuana.

  51. Matt says:

    Great article as always.
    IMO many people have an imbalance in their brains from birth and I think that marijuana is beneficial for them.
    It might be a lack of natural cannabinoids
    It is also so popular as it relieves social anxiety.
    Keep those great posts coming:-)

  52. The legalization of marijuana is certainly very important for so many reasons! It helps a vast amount of people every day who have a wide variety of different problems. Thanks for sharing!

  53. It can’t be denied that there are definitely so many benefits in medicinal marijuana. More and more case studies are coming out that support this too. Thank you for sharing this information!

  54. Thanks for sharing this post. I am very interested in this topic.marijuana phone case
    Marijuana was an enormous a part of my ‘coming-down’ after I give up meth. After I would floor whereas sleeping it off on my dad’s flooring, he would hand me a joint and mentioned that it might assist and it did.

  55. It is a good thing that you shed clarification on these misconceptions about cannabis! Thank you!

  56. Great post! Really wonderful information included. Thanks so much for writing on a topic many still feel to uncomfortable to discuss. There are definitely some obvious benefits to the legalization of marijuana and its great that people are starting to see the pro’s of the decriminalization of marijuana, especially for medical use!

  57. Jordan says:

    Those studies suggest that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it, rising to about 17 percent in those who start using in their teens.

  58. Alex says:

    You are right about Pot, well I also call it pot because it sounds funkier, the thing is that both things are harmful but Alcohol is 10 times more dangerous than Marijuana I agree with you on this plus as you said Alcohol increases aggressive behaviour because of it increases blood pressure but Marijuana don’t because it lowers blood pressure.

  59. Kevin Murphy says:

    For me, marijuana is harmless for those people who are using it in the right way just like alcohol it’s good when we do not abuse it. Just do not put yourself into an obsession.

  60. Athea Jo says:

    Everything is good when you are in control. And everything that is too much can lead you to trouble. Marijuana is good if you use it in moderation and in control.

  61. I admire your courage to start and give up things that can, even as you say are non-addictive, definitely not ‘encouraged’ by society.

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