Reefer Madness… Common Misconceptions of Marijuana

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you have not had the chance to watch the movie Reefer Madness, you should. You should watch it and then consider the fact that still for many Americans, that is exactly how they view marijuana. As a dangerous, mind altering, reality shattering drug. One that is on the same scale as heroin, and for that reason, it is considered by many, still to this day, to be a nuisance to society.

Now I am not here to dispel that fact the marijuana is a drug, because often enough marijuana proponents will say it’s a medicine, a spiritual guide, or even just a misunderstood flower. But in the end, it is a drug, just as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can be considered drugs. Ponder for a moment what the definition of a drug is, that being any substance other than food intended to affect the structure or any function of the body. So yes, without a doubt, and with that definition in mind, marijuana is most certainly a drug. That is unquestionable and the answer will never change. With that said and known, we can now move on.

The Common Misconceptions of Marijuana

As a medicine: This was quite literally how marijuana got its foot in the door to be decriminalized in the U.S. It was first proposed as a medicine to help relieve pain, help increase ones appetite, and a slew of other reasons. It should also be said that how it was first proposed was most certainly taken advantage of by people who simply wanted to get high. In my humble opinion, people would receive their medical marijuana cards for all the wrong reasons, complaining of a bum knee or continual pain in their shoulder or even that their hair follicles ached endlessly. Really, the only people who should have been allowed to get a medical card would be those in serious pain, such as those who go through chemotherapy.

This is not to say marijuana is not a medicine, simply that how we set medicinal marijuana up originally allowed for it to be misused. A medicine is defined as any substance or substances used as a remedy in treating disease or illness. Marijuana will not cure either disease or illness, but it will give a little temporary reprieve and relief from pain felt from some diseases and illnesses. Many people would also argue. rather than consuming other drugs which are nothing more than synthetic forms of heroin and opium, although they are manufactured and FDA approved, are still extremely dangerous as well as addictive. They would prefer something more natural to say the least, and less dangerous overall. Therefore you should not be able to admonish marijuana without admonishing Nyquil, Robitussin, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and any other drug on the market. For the record, each of these other legal and accepted drugs are both addictive and dangerous when over consumed.

As A Recreational Pastime:  There are also those who are concerned with marijuana being used as a recreational pastime. Usually this problem only arises due to other misconceptions about weed. But when put under scrutiny compared to other forms of “entertainment,” it soon becomes apparent that weed is the least evil of them all. When compared to the most accepted form of drug induced entertainment, and the most prevalent in our society, alcohol does significantly more harm… hands down. I understand this is the most commonly used defense, but its reasoning is solid.

The number of people every year that die due to DUI car crashes, the number of fights that occur at the end of a night outside of bars, the number of physical domestic disputes that are made worse, the number of people that end up in the hospital due to alcohol poisoning, the number of people that actually die outright from drinking excessively, as well as the inherent addictive traits which eventually after years of consumption cause significant health problems, it should be realized that even if weed remained illegal, alcohol should as well. But we saw what happened during prohibition, and the people spoke up, eventually forcing the change that occurred. That is quite literally what is occurring now, an attempt to end the prohibition of marijuana. If you happen to enjoy, even occasionally a nice glass of wine with your dinner, how can you then say that a person could not enjoy a delightful joint of weed after a long hard week of work? To each their own ought to be the motto so long as their decisions do not harm others.  

Being Addictive: Another common argument is that marijuana is addictive and will cause a person to become slothful and lazy, making it so they won’t do anything with their life besides smoke weed. I would argue that those same people have those same traits regardless of smoking weed or not. There are many people who are extremely driven and always improving themselves while remaining active and occasionally partake in smoking marijuana. That is the main point, occasionally partaking. Anything done in excess is bad, and if all you do is smoke weed, then yes… you are a weed junkie or pot head. Just as someone who drinks all day is a drunk. Moderation is the key for anything.

Now as far as marijuana being addictive, physically it is not. Unlike the addictive nature of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, or many other drugs are. It can most definitely be mentally addictive, just as anything is that is done all day every day. People are addicted to any number of crazy things in this world, mentally speaking, but you don’t see people who try and stop adrenaline junkies from catching their high, plastic surgery junkies from chasing perfection, both of which are terribly dangerous. Point is, marijuana is no more addictive mentally than any other activity that can be done excessively.

If you have ever spoken to a person who was involved in hard drugs, they will tell you that attempting to quit smoking cigarettes was harder overall than quitting cocaine or heroin. Why is that you might ask? Because consuming nicotine is both physically and mentally addictive. For this argument, all I can think of is Bob Saget in the movie Half Baked when Dave Chappelle goes to a rehab meeting and is booed off stage by other addicts. Point in fact, for those that even smoke marijuana every day, and have for years, not smoking is no big deal. If there is any negative feelings at all, it’s because you are not doing what you are used to doing every day, like missing your morning cup of coffee, or for some not being able to play video games. Addiction comes in many forms, and they don’t always have to be due to physical addiction.

Being Dangerous: Marijuana is often considered to be a gateway drug for other harder drugs, and sadly I have to agree with this to a certain degree. However, the only reason I agree is that people are entirely misinformed about marijuana and its affects. For the longest time, marijuana was believed to be on the same level as heroine, and as it was portrayed in such movies as Reefer Madness, people were told you would lose your mind on marijuana, you would see purple elephants dance across the room, and could send you into a violent murderous rage. With that thought in mind, when a person finally did smoke weed, and realized that none of that was true, how do you think they then view other drugs? Might they think that they have been demonized as well? I would argue that they would.

Beyond the various misconceptions associated with marijuana, it’s still a hard sell and a big leap to relate a person who first smokes marijuana moving on to meth, and cocaine, and other much harder drugs. Mainly because it’s still a decision made within themselves, it’s not as though the marijuana directly told them it’s ok, or that the metaphorical gateway was physically opened. There are many influences which dictate a persons decision making process, and to put the sole blame on marijuana is a weak argument in my decision. I believe there are various reasons a person falls into harder drugs. As mentioned, one could be they first smoked weed and noticed it wasn’t as crazy as they were told, so they then move on to other drugs. But again, that could not be the sole reason for seeking out and trying harder drugs.

Finally there is the actual physical harm weed does to your body, and though it may be less than other things, there is certainly harm being done. After all, you are inhaling smoke. There may be less carcinogens than cigarettes, it may not destroy your liver like alcohol, or rot your brain like ecstasy. But you’re inhaling smoke, and there is no way to argue that it is not harmful. Sure you can lessen the harm of the smoke by using water devices, or vaporizers, but you’re inhaling something other than air. Which is all your lungs are designed to use. I could not say anything about marijuana edibles and their health effects, but it has to be safer than smoking it.  

In the end, I hope you appreciate the honest approach I took with this article and dispelling common misconceptions about marijuana. I’m not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, or lead people to believe anything false. Marijuana certainly isn’t for everyone. However, for those that don’t enjoy or appreciate it, it’s worth relooking and reevaluating why the perception of it is so terrible. Especially considering that so many people consume it, all over the world, and from a wide array of backgrounds. We’ve even had two American Presidents admit to trying it.  Because in the end, it is not reefer madness… if anything its reefer calming!     

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