Marijuana Misperceptions 

Marijuana Misperceptions 

Misperceptions about Marijuana Top 10

Dear Alliance Friends,

This month our Pittsburgh City Council voted to decriminalize marijuana possession within city limits.

As society becomes more lenient and seemingly less concerned with marijuana use as a recreational drug, now more than ever it is imperative that we send the right messages to our children: marijuana use is NOT acceptable. 

The Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association has produced the pamphlet:

“Top 10 Misperceptions about Marijuana” that can be used as a resource guide when talking to children about the danger not only for potential dependency on marijuana but how it can lead to the use of other substances.

Although not all marijuana users will become addicted to narcotics (pain medications) or heroin, the majority of heroin users did start their drug use with marijuana. Please share this information with your children so that they understand marijuana use can lead to serious consequences for their future.     


Misperceptions about Marijuana Top 10


1. Marijuana is Harmless

  • Associated with increased risks of mental illness, heart disease, cancer, lung disease and stroke
  • Contains 3-5 times the amount of carcinogens as tobacco
  •  Emergency Room visits from marijuana side-effects are greater than all other substances combined

2. Marijuana is medicine.

  • Rejected for medicinal use by prominent national health organizations
  •  Combustible leaf marijuana has no medical contribution
  •  In medical marijuana states, less than 3% of users have cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, etc.

3. The marijuana “high” only lasts for a few hours.

  •  A minimum of 24-hour acute impairment is standard after marijuana use
  •  Sub-acute impairment can last a week or longer
  •  Significant THC increases have users reporting ill-effects for days

4. Presence-in-system testing is unreliable because it does not measure impairment.

  •  Drug testing should serve as one component of a comprehensive safe and drug-free workplace program
  • Testing validates the signs and symptoms of documented impaired behavior; maintaining even small amounts of THC in one’s system can cause substantial impairment
  • Presence-in-system testing remains the gold standard and is upheld by the courts as valid

5. Marijuana is not addictive.

  •  Physiological dependence and withdrawal require substance abuse treatment 
  • 1 in 10 adult marijuana users will become dependent to the point of requiring treatment
  • 1 in 6 adolescent marijuana users develop dependence 

6. Marijuana can/should be regulated like alcohol. 

  • Comparisons between alcohol and marijuana regulation needs are not similar 
  • Comparable standardized measurements do not exist for marijuana
  • The social costs related to alcohol abuse likewise exist with marijuana

7. Marijuana is not a gateway drug

  •  2-5 times greater risk of using other drugs when marijuana is the onset drug
  • Frequency of marijuana use is significant with other illicit drugs of abuse and dependence
  •  Majority of individuals seeking drug treatment list marijuana as their gateway drug

8. Marijuana is safer than cigarettes or alcohol.

  • Permanent damage to brain function and long-term mental health detriments are not safe
  • Addiction, psychosis and cognitive function loss are never “safer”
  • Effects of extremely high THC products found in edibles, waxes and oils are unknown

9. There are no long-term effects from marijuana use

  • Cognitive decline among marijuana users does not change with adult abstinence
  •  17% increased risk for depression
  • 40% increased risk of psychotic symptoms/disorders

10. It is safer to drive with marijuana in your system.

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