10 Cannabis Myths Prohibitionists Love to Tell

Regulate Cape Cod Cannabis Myths.jpeg

Did you know that 73.6% of all statistics are made up? People get passionate about their argument and they end up using faulty data to prove a point — or more often than not — simply make it up on the spot. Cannabis prohibitionists love to do the same thing — make up facts to try and prove a point. Here's 10 of their favorite myths to tell:


Myth #1 - Legalization leads to increased youth use

Federal studies, along with state studies, have demonstrated time and time again that youth cannabis use has not increased despite more and more states passing medical marijuana, full legalization or decriminalization measures.  The Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Surveillance study released in 2016 showed Massachusetts past-30-day youth use dropped from 27.1 percent in 2009 to 24.5 percent in 2015, despite medical marijuana and decriminalization measures put in place during that span.

Myth #2 - Cannabis is a “gateway” substance

The “gateway” theory, parroted by prohibitionists for decades, has been thoroughly debunked.  Numerous contemporary studies have determined that marijuana is not a gateway drug.  From a historical perspective, the first serious study of marijuana, conducted by the New York Academy of Medicine in 1939 at the behest of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, thoroughly debunked the gateway theory, as did the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, headed by former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer, in the early 1970s.  In addition, a White House-commissioned study by the Institute of Medicine in 1999 found that marijuana “does not appear to be a gateway drug to the extent that it is the cause or even that it is the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse.”  This RAND Corporation study reported similar results, as does this study in Psychology Today.  

Myth #3 - The Cannabis Industry Targets Youth

Every legal state has strict limits on advertising, and every legal state prohibits ads designed to target--or even reach--youth.  TV and radio ads, if allowed at all, must air only at times when youth are not likely to be watching or listening, which is the same approach states take with alcohol advertising.  Plus, states disallow edible items that resemble commercially-available candies, such as gummy bears or Swedish fish.

Myth #4 - The Industry is a Front for Big Tobacco and Big Pharma

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Neither big tobacco or big pharma have any involvement in any cannabis businesses in the legal states.  In fact, big pharma has been a consistent opponent of the legal cannabis industry.  

Myth #5 - The Legal Industry Markets Cannabis as Harmless

No industry product descriptions anywhere depict cannabis as harmless.  In fact, the industry follows strict guidelines in its labeling, packaging and product descriptions.  One of the great benefits of legalization is the product transparency made available to consumers.

Myth #6 - The Black Market Still Flourishes Despite Legal Cannabis Industry

In communities that allow legal cannabis sales the black market is rapidly diminishing, with arrests for sales and production declining significantly. Simple economic theory establishes that black markets diminish when legal markets grow.  This happened in alcohol distribution after the repeal of Prohibition.  But critics can’t have it both ways.  They can’t block legalization and then complain about the black market, since their prohibitionist policies are the lifeblood of the black market.   

Myth #7 - Highway Deaths due to Cannabis Impairment have Increased in Legal States

The Colorado State Patrol issued a report  in 2016 that showed a 1.3 percent reduction in drivers testing positive for marijuana in 2015 compared to 2014.  State Police first started keeping statistics on the number of people charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in 2014.  Of the 4,546 citations issued for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in 2015, 665 people—or about 15 percent— had marijuana in their system when they were charged, compared to 674 people in 2014. Additional fact: Traffic fatalities in Colorado fell three percent in the first year of legal marijuana sales.  Fatalities rose 10 percent in 2015.  The Colorado Department of Transportation attributed 32 percent of the 2015 fatalities to alcohol impairment and others to the lack of seat belt use, neglecting to wear motorcycle helmets, and distracted driving.  The CDOT reports for 2015 and 2016 contained no mention of marijuana.  

Myth #8 - Homelessness has Increased due to Cannabis Legalization

This is one of the prohibitionists more pernicious charges, and one easily disproven.  If homelessness has increased in any of the legal states, it is due to climbing housing costs and a more competitive job market.  

Myth #9 - The Industry Preys on Minority Populations

Like any industry, cannabis companies locate stores where regulations allow them to be located. In some states, certain communities have opted out of legalized cannabis, while other communities--often those with depressed economies or limited business bases--have embraced the jobs and revenue opportunities presented by a new industry.  Also, zoning in legal communities sometimes forces entrepreneurs to open in industrial areas that may border lower-income neighborhoods.  It is unfair to criticize entrepreneurs for locating stores in the only places they are allowed to do so.  

Myth #10 - Tax Receipts from Cannabis Sales Don’t Cover Regulatory and Public Health Costs

Pure myth.  The Colorado program and personnel (55 FTE) expenses for FY15/16 were $10,468,070.  Marijuana 2015 receipts were about $135 million,  In Massachusetts, a recent study projected $240 million in new tax revenues by 2021.  The annual budget for the Cannabis Control Commission is estimated to be about $5 million.  None of the legal states have reported a significant increase in public health or public safety budgets.

Don't let misinformation and faulty data get in the way of responsible cannabis legislation on Cape Cod. It's time to tax + regulate this now legal industry, and invest the benefits into our local communities. 

Next critical action: block the ban & moratorium in Brewster @ Town Meeting November 13th