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Marijuana Myths

High Time to Speak Some Truths

In 2016, California legalized possession and use of recreational marijuana and, on January 1st, 2018, began to allow legal sales. Since that’s coming up almost a year and a half ago, I’d say it’s high time to speak some truths about weed. However, before I get started, I need to offer a caveat, so we’re all on the same page. Namely, if you’re in recovery, don’t use weed. It’s not okay. I’ve tried marijuana maintenance before, and while I didn’t end up in the hospital the way I did with alcohol, I remained a broken human being. All the problems that were driving my addiction went untreated. Furthermore, as soon as I decided to cut out the weed, the booze returned with a vengeance. So stick to working on some program, and you’ll be better off. With that said, let’s debunk some myths about marijuana.

Myth 1: Weed is Harmless

No, it’s not. Now, I’m not going to get all 80s afternoon special on you and try to tell you it’s as dangerous as heroin or meth. That’s just not the case. But I’m also not going to entertain some of the notions of the NORML crowd: “Weed comes from the earth…it’s perfectly natural to smoke it!” Asbestos and ricin come from the earth, too, and you’re not going to find me smoking those, either. Marijuana impairs brain function, causes problems with child development, and adversely affects mood. None of these things sound harmless to me.

Myth 2: You Can’t Become Physically Addicted to Marijuana

I heard this one a lot growing up. The hacky-sackers would tell me, “It’s not really addictive. You can only get addicted to weed mentally, dude…but you can get mentally addicted to anything, you know? Eye drops. Chapstick. It’s all in your head, man.” Uh. That’s about as true as saying alcohol addiction is all in your head. You’re introducing a chemical into your brain, the brain responds, and the body follows suit. Do it often enough, and you’ve chemically altered your brain. So yeah. I guess technically, it’s in your head. The physical marijuana withdrawal symptoms are very real, though, and they’re gross (ugh…those night sweats). So go easy there, Cheech.

Myth 3: Marijuana Is a Gateway Drug to Harder Substances

The jury is still out on this, and the science is inconclusive. Yes, it’s true that most hard drug abusers used marijuana before their drugs of choice, but most also tried alcohol and nicotine before the hard stuff. Furthermore, most people who try weed (or tobacco or alcohol) at some point do not go on to heroin, meth, or other drugs. So, it looks to be no more a gateway drug than beer or cigarettes. With that said, if you’re the type who needs a couple of drinks after a hard day, you might want to be careful about what else you try.

So, there you have it. While marijuana may not be cocaine, heroin, or alcohol, it still comes with its own problems. And if you’ve had a history of abusing substances, they’re problems you just don’t need.


Ocean Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial policy.

1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Is marijuana a gateway drug? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published July 2020. Accessed August 2, 2022.

Last medically reviewed August 1, 2022.