weed facts and myths

Butte Youth Now

Butte County Department of Behavioral Health

Weed Myths vs. Facts

Myth: “Everyone at school smokes pot.”

Fact: Most students don’t use marijuana

In Butte County…most have never tried it:

  • 94% of 7th graders
  • 80% of 9th graders
  • 62% of 11th graders

Myth: “I’ll be fine if I only get high on weekends.”

Fact: You can’t control your high

  • Marijuana is 3-5x stronger than it used to be
  • Marijuana’s effects can last for days or weeks and include:
    • Problems paying attention and concentrating
    • Slower thinking
    • Less memory

Myth: “Smoking weed helps me sleep at night.”

Fact: Teen marijuana users are more likely to have trouble sleeping

  • They tend to go to bed later and sleep less
  • People who start using marijuana early are more likely to have sleep problems later in life

Myth: “Smoking weed won’t affect how I do in school.”

Fact: Marijuana has been shown to have a connection to:

  • Lower grades
  • Skipping classes
  • Studying less
  • Lower motivation
  • Potential for dropping out
  • Lost opportunities (sports, jobs, special programs)

Myth: “After graduation, what I did in school now won’t matter.”

Fact: Teens who smoke marijuana frequently have fewer choices

  • 60% of daily users do not complete high school
  • Young users are 4x less likely to finish college
  • Drug testing can limit job opportunities
  • Social media photos may be checked out by schools and employers

Myth: “You can’t get addicted to weed”

Fact: 9% of those who use marijuana will become addicted

  • Even more likely the younger you start using
  • 25%-50% who use every day may become addicted
  • Withdrawal symptoms are hard to overcome

Myth: “Weed has the same effects no matter what your age is.”

Fact: Heavy teen use lowers IQ permanently

  • Early marijuana use is linked to IQ dropping about 8 points
  • Regular teen users who stopped using latter in life did not recover the brain functionality that was lost

Myth: “It’s medicine, just like any other drug.”

Fact: Marijuana is not the same as prescribed medicine

  • A doctor may recommend but not prescribe it
  • The dosage and potency are not controlled
  • It is not tested by the FDA for safety, purity, or side effects
  • Smoking or eating cause different reactions

Myth: “I drive better when I’m high.”

Fact: Marijuana impairs driving ability

  • Impairs motor skills, alters perception of speed and slows reaction time
  • Risk of an accident doubles when a person drives soon after using marijuana
  • After alcohol, marijuana is the most frequently found substance in the blood of impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and crash victims.

Myth: “It’s just not a big deal.”

Fact: Marijuana use is a big deal because:

  • It’s almost four times stronger than it used to be
  • It affects your brain-sometimes forever
  • It impairs driving
  • It can impact school, jobs, and future success   Myth: "Everyone at school smokes pot." Fact: Most students don't use marijuana In Butte County…most have never tried it: 94% of 7th graders 80% of 9th graders 62% of 11th graders   Myth: "I'll be fine if I only get high on weekends." Fact: You can't control your high Marijuana is 3-5x stronger than…

Marijuana Facts: Breaking Down the Myths


Marijuana use among teens had been on the decline since the mid-1990s—until now. According to the 2010 Monitoring the Future survey, teen marijuana use is no longer declining; in some cases, it is even increasing, particularly among eighth graders, the youngest group studied.

Why? One possibility is that some teens don’t see marijuana as harmful . . . or at least that harmful. In fact, that same survey shows that in recent years, fewer teens think using marijuana regularly is risky at all.

Why are more teens so convinced that using marijuana isn’t harmful? The answer to this question may be right in front of you—on your music player, your cell phone, your computer, or your TV. In fact, the myth that marijuana is no big deal is nearly everywhere.

“The messages getting to young people are very mixed and probably contributing to the misperception that marijuana isn’t dangerous or harmful,” says Dr. Susan Weiss, a scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “We are concerned about this because we know that as teens’ perception of risk goes down, their use goes up.”

To make smart decisions about marijuana use and your health, you need to know essential facts about the effects of marijuana.

SCIENTIFIC FACT:В Marijuana is addictive.

The main active ingredient in marijuana, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), stimulates brain cells to release the chemical dopamine, which creates a feeling of pleasure. This effect is partly responsible for the “high” a person feels when he or she smokes marijuana. It is one of the main reasons people use marijuana again and again, which can lead to addiction.

You may be surprised to know that 1 in 11 adults who use marijuana become addicted. And the younger someone starts smoking, the higher the risk. One in six people who start in their teens will become addicted.

SCIENTIFIC FACT:В Marijuana use can negatively affect your performance in school and athletics .

THC affects a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is critical for processing and storing new information, making it difficult to learn. THC also affects attention, impairing your ability to do complex tasks that require focus and concentration. These effects can last even after the high is long gone, especially for frequent users of marijuana, and that can make it harder for them to do well in school.

In fact, research has shown that compared with those who don’t smoke marijuana, students who do are more likely to drop out.

What about sports? THC also affects parts of the brain that control timing, movement, and coordination. This not only diminishes athletic performance, but also puts you at risk for serious injury. Using marijuana can lead to other serious problems, especially for the lungs. Chronic marijuana users develop coughs, excess phlegm, and bronchitis because of the toxic mix of gases and particles in marijuana smoke.

SCIENTIFIC FACT:В Driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous.
The skills you need to drive safely—alertness, concentration, coordination, judgment, and reaction time—are controlled by the parts of your brain affected by THC. This means that smoking marijuana seriously increases the likelihood of a car accident.

Some people think they can compensate for the effects of marijuana by driving more slowly or paying closer attention to the road. But that does not work, especially when combined with even a small amount of alcohol.

In fact, marijuana (sometimes in combination with other drugs and alcohol) is the most common illegal drug found in the systems of drivers who die in car accidents (up to 14 percent). Bottom line: It’s not safe to drive after smoking marijuana or to ride with a driver who has been smoking marijuana.

Important Resources
• For immediate help with a crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK.
• To locate a treatment center, call 1-800-662-HELP or visit
• For more information on drugs, go to or

В Marijuana leaf illustration: В© iStockphotoВ

Marijuana Facts: Breaking Down the Myths PRINT THIS PAGE Marijuana use among teens had been on the decline since the mid-1990s—until now. According to the 2010 Monitoring the Future