Frank Discussion Cannabis Facts for Canadians

Information > Responses to Prohibitionist Claims

 Claim: Marijuana is dangerous and addictive. 

Cannabis is non-toxic and not a serious threat to health. Here are a couple excerpts from a U.S. Federal Court Decision from DEA judge Francis Young:

"In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough cannabis to induce death." [source]
"Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." [source]

As for addiction, less than 1% of people who try cannabis go on to be daily users. Doctors compared cannabis to caffeine in terms of addictive potential.

Henningfield/Benowitz Ratings:
Here are the results of a scientific comparison of six commonly abused drugs. This kind of comparison shows that current laws are not based on the potential harm caused by various substances. If that were the case then alcohol and cigarettes would be illegal. The current laws against marijuana are irrational. What are these laws supposedly protecting society from?

To see some statistics on the social costs to the Ontario health care system attributable to various drugs click here)

Dr. Jack E. Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz of the University of California at San Francisco ranked six commonly abused drugs by five criteria.

*Longer bars are better. The shorter the bar the higher the capacity to cause the effect.
(Source of graph data: )

* Note that Marijuana is least likely to cause dependence in both results, while a legal drug, Nicotine, is the most likely to cause dependence.

Explanation of chart terms:
Withdrawal: Presence and severity of characteristic withdrawal symptoms.
Reinforcement: Substance's ability, in human and animal tests, to get users to take it repeatedly, and instead of other substances.
Tolerance: Amount of substance needed to satisfy increasing cravings, and level of plateau that is eventually reached.
Dependence: Difficulty in ending use of substance, relapse rate, percentage of people who become addicted, addicts self-reporting of degree of need for substance, and continued use in face of evidence that it causes harm.
Intoxication: Level of intoxication associated with addiction, personal and social damage that substance causes.

An alternate chart format that uses the same Henningfield/Benowitz data...

From the book "Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts" by Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D. and John P. Morgan, M.D.:
Myth #4: Marijuana is highly addictive.

Fact #1: Most people who smoke marijuana smoke it only occasionally. A small minority of Americans --less than one percent - smoke marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis. An even smaller minority develops dependence on marijuana. Marijuana is not physically addictive.

Return to Common Prohibitionist Claims

up arrow top of page
Public Opinion Polls
Erroneous Claims
about Cannabis
Information Handouts
Know Your Rights
Policy in other countries