By: Marushka Mujic

What with Woody Harrelson narrating a documentary about the famed and so called “reefer,” and California kicking up controversy in neighboring states still skeptical of medical marijuana legalities, it seems that the modern marijuana market is about to make history. Sure, it’s been around forever. Sure, it may fizzle out and return to its taboo status as fiendish gateway drug. No one can tell for certain. But what we can tell you is a few little known truths about the hot little topic and let you decide for yourself the rest.

#1 Brain Damage

According to several sources utilized in the Drug Policy Alliance Network‘s recent evaluation of marijuana myths, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that marijuana causes psychological damage or mental illness in either teenagers or adults.” Though television shows and talks given to us by our mothers would say otherwise, marijuana’s drawbacks are most often only minor feelings of panic, anxiety and paranoia, but in cases of “very large doses, marijuana can cause temporary toxic psychosis. This occurs rarely, and almost always when marijuana is eaten rather than smoked.”

#2 Addiction

Plenty people insist marijuana’s addiction is comparatively equal to that of cocaine, methadone and heroine. However, only “a small minority of Americans – less than 1 percent – smoke marijuana on a daily basis. An even smaller minority develop a dependence on marijuana… Marijuana does not cause physical dependence.” Whereas chemical reactions to cocaine and various opiates, lead their victims back immediately, marijuana is most frequently used occasionally. In fact, caffeine and marijuana are considered least addictive when compared to nicotine, alcohol, heroin and cocaine.

#3 Marijuana’s Prior Moment in World History

Hailing from central Asia, cannabis may have been cultivated as early as ten thousand years ago. It is recorded as having been cultivated in China by 4000 B.C and in Turkestan by 3000 B.C and was initially used as medicine in India, China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Africa and South America.

#4 Marijuana’s Prior Moment in Western History

Marijuana had a heyday in Western culture from 1840 to 1900, spurred by a Western physician by the name of W.B O’Shaugnessey, following his studies of the drug’s use in India. According to marijuana experts and authors of Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine, Lester Ginspoon and James B. Bakalar, “he gave cannabis to animals, satisfied himself that it was safe, and began to use it with patients suffering from rabies, rheumatism, epilepsy, and tetanus.” In 1842, he supplied English pharmacists with the drug and it’s prescription began immediately. Says Ginspoon and Bakalar, “Cannabis was even given to Queen Victoria by her court physician.”

#5 Marijuana as Medicine

Much is being debated over the benefits and drawbacks of marijuana as prescription medication. Mitch Wallack a Ph.D and executive director of a holistic drug rehabilitation facility in Florida is in favor of the drug’s presence in modern markets, declaring that ” the problem is not with the medication, but the medication user.” Wallick insists that “most of us would certainly argue that cocaine is a “bad drug… [but] what many laypeople fail to realize is that cocaine has a legitimate medical use in reconstructive surgery… On the other hand, when snorted and/or smoked in the form of crack, it is very dangerous and will cause severe problems. The same argument should be applied to the use of marijuana medically.”  

#6 Current Dispensaries in America

Marijuana shops have been sprouting up like wildfire in California. That may change, however, considering that this past Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance that “will shut down hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries that recently opened in America’s second-largest city… [and] ultimately would limit the number of licensed dispensaries to 70 and require them to be at least 1,000 feet from schools, public parks, libraries or churches.”

#7 States In Support of Marijuana

Recent marijuana news boasts that thirteen states in the U.S ‘recognize’ medical marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.”  

#8 Memory Loss

Scientific evidence concerning the myth of memory loss caused by marijuana has not yet truly made it past the maybe stage. David Robbe, a scientists at Rutgers University, conducted an experiment wherein his team injected rats with a dose of THC proportional to what a person would inhale from average-sized joint intake. The team then watched the activity within the rats’ brains. Roxanne Khamsi, the writer chronicling Robbe’s findings, found that “the drug did not change the total number of firings produced, just their tendency to occur at the same time,” and nerves need to signal in sync in order to functional regularly.

Thus, according to Robbe and Khamsi, the experiment helps “explain why people high on marijuana sometime lose their train of thought in mid-sentence, forgetting what they were saying.”As far as long term memory loss, it is proposed that long term use may make it increasingly difficult for people to learn, remember and memorize, though this, too, is still factually uncertain.

#9 Marijuana vs. Tobacco

There is a common rivalry amongst marijuana users and cigarette smokers, each saying the other is more at risk. The Drug Policy Alliance Network cites a 2006 study presented to the American Thoracic Society on this topic, finding that “even heavy users of smoked marijuana were found not to have any increased risk of lung cancer. Unlike heavy tobacco smokers, heavy marijuana smokers exhibit no obstruction of the lung’s small airway. That indicates that people will not develop emphysema from smoking marijuana.” Of course, if you’re dabbling in both and using tobacco alongside marijuana to roll spliffs, you’re most likely doubling your chances of everything.

#10 Sperm-Killer

Along with the rumor that tight jeans, hot laptops and Mountain Dew seriously reduce sperm count is the famed marijuana as a serial sperm-killer. Lynn Zimmer and John P. Morgan address this in their book Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts, insisting “there is no evidence that marijuana causes infertility in men or women. In animal studies, high doses of THC diminish the production of some sex hormones and can impair reduction. However, most studies of humans have found that marijuana has no impact on sex hormones.”

#11 Gateway Dru

Public service announcements over the years have urged us to always pass, because one puff leads to worser stuff – particularly – straight to cocaine. Morgan and Zimmer, however, say that almost all marijuana users who also use harder drugs, had previous drug experiences unrelated to marijuana. “In 1994, among twelve- to seventeen-year-olds who had tried marijuana, 60 percent had used it fewer than twelve times and about 40 percent had only tried it one or twice,” say Zimmer and Morgan. Moreover, “most also tried numerous other illicit drugs before trying cocaine.”

#12 Hunger and Insomnia

Often used to treat anorexia or nausea so that a person may comfortably eat and digest, marijuana has certainly made a name for itself as a food-inspiring activity. Essentially, pot-smoking is said to recreate a process our bodies already organically experience around meal time, meaning that receptors in our brains are stimulated and signal our stomachs to go on rampage. Marijuana users should monitor their intake if they’ve already reached full capacity for the day and by pass the drive through, as the raging hunger is merely a symptom. Similarly, marijuana allows the body to artificially find its natural progression toward slumber, and is often prescribed as a cure for insomnia.

#13 Getting Caught

For those who are not certified by the state and cannot prove medicinal necessity, modern laws on possession are certainly not in line with California’s attitude of acceptance. Federal marijuana laws are on par with cocaine and heroine and can often result in seizing of property and heavy jail time. The actual sentencing time is dependent on the amount of marijuana possessed and the possessor’s prior record. Anything over 2.5 kg, can easily result in at least two or three years jail time without any chance of probation. Unlawful marijuana pot growers receive a five-year mandatory minimum for cultivation of 100 plants and a ten-year minimum if the defendant has any prior convictions.