There are a lot of common misconceptions about marijuana, partially thanks to dramatic news stories on the “dangers of weed”, fear-mongering D.A.R.E. classes and those weird commercials that guaranteed your dog would be incredibly disappointed in you for smoking pot. Most of these misconceptions stem from a slew of misinformation by unreliable or incorrect sources, rumors that started who-knows-where, propaganda, or worse, just plain contempt for certain races or demographics of people. Whatever the reasons, it is time to lay these rumors to rest, once and for all.

It’s A Gateway Drug

This statement is probably the most common that I personally have heard. Marijuana being a gateway drug has been a scare tactic used for decades, but we now know we can dispute that claim. Although it’s true that most users of hard drugs have tried marijuana, most marijuana users have never felt the need to try anything else. TIME has a wonderfully written article on why marijuana isn’t the commonly titled “gateway drug”. http://healthland.time.com/2010/10/29/marijuna-as-a-gateway-drug-the-myth-that-will-not-die/

The writer puts it simply, stating, “The problem here is that correlation isn’t cause. Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang members are probably more 104 times more likely to have ridden a bicycle as a kid than those who don’t become Hell’s Angels, but that doesn’t mean that riding a two-wheeler is a “gateway” to joining a motorcycle gang. It simply means that most people ride bikes and the kind of people who don’t are highly unlikely to ever ride a motorcycle.”

Marijuana Kills Brain Cells

Contrary to what your mom may have told you, your precious brain cells will not be harmed by cannabis. Cambridge University published a study in the Journal of International Neuropsychological Society that proved that marijuana would not kill brain cells. The Journal of Neuroscience backed up this information, stating that there were no significant difference in the brain between non-users and daily users of cannabis.

Marijuana Will Make You Lazy

This misconception has been around for decades, the “lazy stoner” stereotype of marijuana users, but it couldn’t be more incorrect. Studies (https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1747-597X-1-2 ) now conclude “daily use of cannabis does not impair motivation.” Contrary to the myth, studies have shown college students who use marijuana show comparable or higher grades and are more likely to pursue a graduate degree than students who do not use cannabis.

Medical marijuana can actually help people lead more productive and fulfilling lives. Patients with debilitating health conditions use cannabis to help alleviate things like pain, nausea and anxiety. This allows these patients to feel better and focus on their day instead of feeling unwell.

Successful individuals from many different career paths use marijuana with no effect on their careers. “An examination of over 8000 people suggests that some frequent cannabis users earn higher wages than abstainers.” An incredible amount of extremely successful CEO’s, athletes, celebrities, politicians, philanthropists, scientists and more have talked about their cannabis use. Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group), Bill Gates (Microsoft co-founder), (Gary Johnson, Politian and CEO) George Zimmer (founder of Men’s Wearhouse), Ted Turner (media mogul) and Steve Jobs (late Apple founder and CEO) are just a few.

Athletes like basketball legends LeBron James and Phil Jackson, as well as Olympian Michael Phelps have been known to smoke cannabis. Many highly successful celebrities either have had marijuana in the past or are still frequent users, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Susan Sarandon, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, George Clooney, David Letterman, Jennifer Aniston and Stephen Colbert are a few examples.

Leaders of the United States throughout history have even been known to use cannabis. Politicians Gary Johnson and Lincoln Chafee are just two of the many government officials that have smoked marijuana. Even former presidents of the United States have toked up, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Marijuana Is Dangerous

There have been no confirmed deaths by cannabis overdose, ever. To overdose on marijuana, you would need to take 40,000 times the normal dosage at one time to supposedly ingest enough THC to kill you. It is physically impossible.  Deaths have occurred by negligence leading to accidents or lifestyle dangers (such as trafficking), but even those numbers pale in comparison to the number of prescription drug overdoses, alcohol related deaths or even fatigue related accidents. The important thing is to use cannabis as a medication and take the same safety precautions. Do not drive or preform dangerous tasks while high, etc.

Some cannabis users can have a bit more THC than they are comfortable with (especially newer users) but CBD can actually counteract any negative effects that might occur with too much THC consumption, like paranoia or dizziness. High CBD/low THC strains are beneficial to those who may be more sensitive to unwanted side effects or having CBD oil that you can use is useful too.

Marijuana Is/Isn’t Addictive

To be fair, this one can be a bit tricky. Psychology Today writes in a 2013 article, “Obviously, the vast majority of marijuana users are neither addicted nor almost addicted to cannabis. Their use doesn’t escalate over time, they can enjoy its effects without endangering some major element of their lives.” This much is true, but studies on whether marijuana is physically addictive are across the board. Some say that 8% of heavy cannabis users can face dependency, some say that number could be 16% or higher.

Most use marijuana for medical reasons or can use it recreationally responsibly, but just as with any other substance, certain people may develop a dependency. It is agreed that the risk of marijuana dependency is far lower than substances such as alcohol, cocaine, opiates or nicotine.

Someone addicted to marijuana may face small physiological symptoms if they stop using cannabis, such as irritability or vivid dreams. This is in far contrast to addiction to alcohol, opiates or benzodiazepines that cause severe withdraws, causing hallucinations, increased blood pressure, seizures or even death in extreme cases. Cannabinoids can actually assist in treating addiction and withdraw from opiates and nicotine. With time, more studies will be conducted that can give us a more definitive look at dependency numbers. Things from soda, to lip balm can become “addictive” if used improperly, but with responsible use, a user won’t have issue with cannabis becoming addictive.