The Truth Behind Common Beliefs About Marijuana

There are a number of beliefs about marijuana, and not everyone experiences this drug the same way. However, there is a growing body of research to indicate the potential effects of marijuana use.

Common Beliefs
  • Marijuana makes people mellow

  • Marijuana reduces aggression

  • Marijuana increases sexual arousal

  • Marijuana is safer than tobacco

  • Marijuana is safe because it's "natural"

  • Some experience greater stress and anxiety

  • Marijuana can increase aggressive behaviors

  • Marijuana tends to lower inhibitions, but sexual effects are variable

  • Any type of smoke inhalation increases your risk of lung issues

  • Even plant-based products can pose health dangers


Some May Experience Greater Stress and Anxiety

Joyful Girl Smoking Weed
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The subduing effects of marijuana may initially make people feel less anxious and stressed. However, some individuals may also experience a rebound effect of increased anxiety after the drug wears off. 

The fear of getting caught and charged (depending on the laws of where you are using marijuana) may also increase the stress in some.

Some who use marijuana long-term have been found to have increased difficulty dealing with the stresses of day-to-day life. 


Marijuana Can Increase Aggressive Behaviors

Young man smoking weed outside

Deux / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Marijuana was promoted in the 1960s as being the drug of love and peace. While weed does often temporarily subdue people—and can even decrease energy and vigor after long-term use—it does not necessarily reduce aggression.

Studies have shown that the potency of marijuana is linked with psychosis, paranoid thinking, and violent behavior. Paranoia can also increase the risk of aggressiveness, suspicion, and anger.


Its Impact on Sex Can Vary

Small business marijuana dispensary in Oregon.
Heath Korvola / Getty Images

Marijuana does tend to reduce inhibitions and may be associated with increased sexual behavior in some circumstances. However, marijuana's impact on sexual arousal can be quite variable, and some report decreased satisfaction with sexual experiences.


It's Been Associated With Certain Health Issues

Man smoking on a dock

 myshkovsky / Getty Images

Although alcohol and tobacco are currently legal for adults, they are both highly addictive drugs, and long-term use is associated with life-threatening health effects.

Marijuana has been associated with vascular conditions related to stroke and heart attack as well as respiratory infection. Additionally, long-term pot smoking may lead to chronic bronchitis.

Marijuana use has also been linked to certain mental health problems, and the risk increases the younger a person is when they begin using marijuana. However, according to a 2014 review in the New England Journal of Medicine, causality is difficult to determine in these cases.


Just Because It's a Plant, Doesn't Mean It's Healthy

Close-Up Of Marijuana Plants
Mikhail Meleyev / EyeEm / Getty Images

There are many poisonous and hallucinogenic plants that are unhealthy for human consumption. Several drugs—including weed, heroin, cocaine, magic mushrooms, and alcoholic beverages—come from plants. Consuming marijuana, even though it is plant-based, still comes with health risks.

A Word From Verywell

The important thing to note is that there will be no "cure-all" effects of any one drug. Even for those who experience relief with marijuana, there are potential drawbacks to any drug consumption. It is best to take any widely held beliefs about any substance in moderation and to remember to act with your overall health in mind.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cservenka A, Lahanas S, Dotson-Bossert J. Marijuana use and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis functioning in humans. Front Psychiatry. 2018;9:472. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00472

  2. Ansell EB, Laws HB, Roche MJ, Sinha R. Effects of marijuana use on impulsivity and hostility in daily life. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015;148:136-142. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.12.029

  3. Miller NS, Ipeku R, Oberbarnscheidt T. A review of cases of marijuana and violenceInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(5):1578. doi:10.3390/ijerph17051578

  4. Wiebe E, Just A. How cannabis alters sexual experience: A survey of men and women. J Sex Med. 2019;16(11):1758-1762. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.07.023

Additional Reading

By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD
Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada.