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Drug Myths Debunked: Marijuana Part 2

Believe it or not but I think Tom Petty had it wrong. This is not the last dance with mary jane, in fact societies dance with mary jane may go on until the end of at least my life. This is the second installment for our drug myth debunked: marijuana and honestly this time around it is just going to get more weird. Some of the myths are pretty outrageous and then some are serious topics.

The mix up: Weed vs. Jimson Weed

This myth could very well be in relation to the “Reefer Madness” legend; some people (particularly Americans) had confused cannabis with Jimson weed (Datura stramonium). Jimson weed, which grows wild in the United States and several other countries, is a potent weed which can cause true hallucinations and delusions that are believed by the user to be real. Confusion could have resulted from the fact that datura’s common name contains the word “weed,” which is also a slang term for cannabis. In all reality the two plants are not related. Jimson weed is highly toxic and can cause delirium, confusion, hallucinations, blurred vision, photophobia, dry mouth, urinary retention, hyperthermia, incoordination, hypertension, and rapid heartbeat among other effects. An overdose (or suspected overdose) on this Jimson weed is a medical emergency, as it can cause seizures, coma, or death by cardiac arrest.

Marijuana today is 10–20 times more potent

This one is pretty much a myth. One of the biggest claims and I used to even say it myself is that the weed today is better than it was back then. Back then is I don’t know when but a long time ago. THC levels in pot are supposedly 10, 20 and even 30 times higher than in the 1960s and 70s. Potency levels have risen in different countries but the actual increase is not nearly as high as the myth claims. It is about three times more potent. Not only that but potency of seized samples back then was not done until 1971 and even then the leaves were not distinguished from the buds by testers. Most of the increase of potency of pot talk happened after 2000 which goes to show this is just a myth that has been perpetuated by people making claims that go back as far as the 1970s.

Marijuana was really popular in the 1960s

According to my mother and the Gallup polls; no it wasn’t. This is a myth. My mom used to tell me the only people who smoked pot were “burnouts” or the “not cool” kids. And the Gallup Polls seem to agree with her. In a 1969 Gallup poll only 4% of American adults had tried marijuana and 34% didn’t even know its effects.

Lucky Strike Cigarettes contained marijuana

It has been claimed that the cigarette brand Lucky Strike is named as such because every now and then a consumer would get a “lucky strike” which means they found a marijuana laced cigarette in the pack. This rumor varies in how often the marijuana would be included and so on. It is not really known where this myth started but it has been floating around for a while. Then Lucky Strike came up with the slogan “It’s Toasted” which pretty much just kept the myth going. Marketing genius if you ask me.

One of the explanations for the origin of this myth is flipping of a “lucky” cigarette upside down because it had marijuana in it and that meant to save it for last. Oh and the “It’s Toasted” slogan actually means the tobacco was toasted instead of sun-dried which supposedly makes it a better tasting product.

Marijuana is NOT Addictive

This is a myth. It was once believed that marijuana was not addictive; many people still believe this to be the case. And it is true that marijuana is not AS addictive as other substance including even alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. But recent research shows that use of the drug can indeed lead to dependence. Some heavy users of marijuana develop withdrawal symptoms when they have not used the drug for a period of time. As described in the DSM, the criteria for substance dependence includes: tolerance (needing more of the substance to achieve the same effects, or diminished effect with the same amount of the substance); withdrawal symptoms; using a drug even in the presence of adverse effects; and giving up social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use. Heavy marijuana users fit this criterion.

Our prisons are filled with innocent people who went to prison for casual marijuana use

This is a myth. It is extremely rare for anyone, particularly first-time offenders, to get sent to prison just for possessing a small amount of marijuana. In most states, possession of an ounce or less of pot is a misdemeanor offense and some states have even downgraded simple possession of marijuana to a civil offense pretty similar to a traffic violation. The truth is: Many inmates in prison who were sentenced for marijuana possession were initially charged with more serious crimes but were able to negotiate reduced charges or lighter sentences through plea agreements with prosecutors.




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