Kevin Sabet’s “Seven Myths” About Marijuana

Kevin Sabet is a former senior policy adviser to then–White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske. In this interview with the Heritage Foundation, Sabet discusses his recent book, Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths about Marijuana. Let’s examine Sabet’s “Seven Myths.”

Myth #1. I can’t become addicted to marijuana.

That might be a myth, but who cares? Addiction is not, per se, a problem for society or an indvidual; just think about how many people are addicted to caffeine.

Myth #2. Today’s marijuana is the same old Woodstock weed my parents used.

True. Potency is now higher. But who cares? If a given puff has more THC, users can get high while inhaling less. That does not mean people get more stoned.  

Myth #3. Smoking marijuana once in a while won’t harm me as a teen.

No statistically valid study finds negative health effects from occaissional use. See here for an excellent debunking of science that claims otherwise.

Myth #4. Marijuana is not tobacco - it won’t harm my lungs.

Little evidence finds that marijuana smoking harms the lungs. Most users do not puff all day, every day.

But even if marijuana does harm the lungs, this is an argument for legalization. When marijuana is legal, users can more readily find high potency marijuana, which, as noted above, means less inhalation. Legalization also faciliates ingestion methods other than smoking (e.g., vaporization, edibles), which reduces risks to the lungs.

Myth #5. I can’t die from marijuana use.

The number of documented deaths from marijuana use is infinitessimal. Does Sabet want to ban Ibuprofen? Swimming pools? Peanuts? Penicillin?

Myth #6. Marijuana is medicine.

Why does it matter whether marijuana is medicine? True, some prohibition opponents base their case on marijuana’s reputed medicinal value, but the case for legalization is strong regardless. Bombay Sapphire martinis are not “medicine,” but they make me feel better at the end of the day (and I’m glad they are legal).

Myth #7. Marijuana will make me a more focused and better driver.

Give me a break. Perhaps a few zealots have made this claim, but virtually all legalizers agree that people should not drive under the influence of marijuana.

Bottom Line: Sabet’s seven myths are spin, pure and simple.