Dr. Dobson, president and founder of Focus on the Family, is a recognized and respected leader of the modern day Christian community. For many he is the ultimate authority on issues facing the Christian family and his advice is generally followed.

It is difficult to disagree with Dr. James Dobson. For years, I trusted his gentle, wise instruction with the raising of my children. Having five, I needed all the help I could get. Through Dr. Dobson I learned to draw my line short and often wondered if I would see his book, "The New Dare to Discipline", floating in the toilet.

When I first started looking into the marijuana issue, the Focus on the Family website was one of the first places I checked out. Naturally, the stance was against legalization, but no scriptural references were given to validate the FotF position. I then wrote, expressing my concern that the Christian community was in error in their unanimous support of the cannabis prohibition. In response I received the same information that was available on the FotF website. The page, Focus on the Family's Dr. Dobson Answers Question About Marijuana, is no longer there, but the issue is touched upon here

Now, a few years down the road, I understand why there were no scriptural references to support the position of Focus on the Family � there are none. Quite the contrary, to support the criminalization of cannabis users is to go against the scriptures of God's Holy word.

The authors' of "Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts, a Review of the Scientific Evidence", Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D and John P. Morgan, M.D., have graciously and generously consented to the somewhat extensive use of their book to refute the facts used by Dr. Dobson to validate the FotF position against legalization. In addition to their book, other sources, such as recent studies and The Drug War Fact Book has also been used.

Myth: Ninety percent of those using hard drugs such as heroin started with marijuana.

  • "Marijuana does not cause people to use hard drugs. What the gateway theory presents as a casual explanation is a statistical association between common and uncommon drugs, an association that changes over time as different drugs increase and decrease in prevalence. Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in the United States today. Therefore, people who have used less popular drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and LSD, are likely to have also used marijuana. Most marijuana users never use any other illegal drug. Indeed, for the large majority of the people, marijuana is a terminus rather than a gateway drug.".(1)

  • "The World Health Organization's investigation into the gateway effect of marijuana stated emphatically that the theory that marijuana use by adolescents leads to heroin use is the least likely of all hypothesis."(2)

  • In March 1999, the Institute of Medicine issued a report on various aspects of marijuana, including the so-called Gateway Theory (the theory that using marijuana leads people to use harder drugs like cocaine and heroin). The IOM stated, "There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causually linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs."(3)

  • The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on marijuana explained that marijuana has been mistaken for a gateway drug in the past because "Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana � usually before they are of legal age."(4)

Myth: Five marijuana cigarettes have the same cancer-causing capacity as 112 conventional cigarettes.

  • "Moderate smoking of marijuana appears to pose minimal danger to the lungs. Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke contains a number of irritant and carcinogens. But marijuana users typically smoke much less than tobacco smokers and, over time, inhale much less smoke. As a result, the risk of serious lung damage should be lower in marijuana smokers. There have been no reports of lung cancer related soley to marijuana. However, because researchers have found precancerous changes in cells taken from the lungs of heavy marijuana smokers, the possibility of lung cancer from marijuana cannot be ruled out. Unlike heavy tobacco smokers, heavy marijuana smokers exhibit no obstruction of the lungs small airways. This indicates that people will not develop emphysema from smoking marijuana."(5)

Myth: Marijuana stays in the body, lodged in the fat cells, for three to five weeks.
Myth: Mental and physical performance is negatively affected during this entire period of time.
Myth:A person smoking marijuana on a regular basis suffers from the cumulative buildup and storage of THC, a toxic chemical, in the fat cells of the body, particularly in the brain.
Myth: It takes three to five months to effectively detoxify a regular user.

  • "Many active drugs enter the body's fat cells. What is different, (but not unique) about THC is that it exits fat cells slowly. As a result, traces of marijuana can be found in the body for days or weeks following ingestion. However, within a few hours of smoking marijuana, the amount of THC in the brain falls below the concentration required for the detectable psychoactivity. The fat cells in which THC lingers are not harmed by the drugs presence, nor is the brain or other organs. The most important consequence of marijuana's slow excretion is that it can be detected in blood, urine and tissue long after it is used, and long after its psychoactivity has ended."(6)

Myth: The part of the brain that allows a person to focus, concentrated, create, learn, and conceptualize at an advanced level is still growing during the teenage years. Continuous use of marijuana over a period of time will retard the normal growth of these brain cells.

  • "None of the medical tests currently used to detect brain damage in humans have found harm from marijuana, even from long term high dose use. An early study reported brain damage in the rhesus monkey's after six month's exposure to high concentrations of marijuana smoke. In a recent, more carefully conducted study, researchers found no evidence of brain abnormality in monkeys that were forced to inhale the equivalent of four to five marijuana cigarettes every day for a year. The claim that marijuana kills brain cells is based on a speculative report dating back to a quarter of a century that has never been supported by any scientific study."(7)

Myth: A study at Columbia University revealed that female marijuana smokers suffer a sharp increase in cells that damage DNA (the chemical that carries the genetic code). 9. It was also found that the female productive eggs are especially vulnerable to damage by marijuana.

  • "Studies of newborns, infants and children show no consistent physical, developmental, or cognitive defects related to prenatal marijuana exposure. Marijuana has no reliable impact on birth size, length of gestation, neurological development, or the occurrence of physical abnormalities. The administration of hundreds of tests to older children has revealed only minor differences between offspring of marijuana users and nonusers, and some are positive rather than negative. Two unconfirmed case-control studies identified prenatal marijuana exposure as one of the many factors statistically associated with childhood cancer. Given the other available evidence, it is highly unlikely that marijuana causes cancer in children."(8)

Myth: A second University study found that a control group smoking a single marijuana cigarette every other day for a year had a white-blood-cell count that was 39 percent lower than normal, thus damaging the immune system and making the user far more susceptible to infection and sickness.

  • "There is no evidence that marijuana users are more susceptible to infections than nonusers. Nor is there evidence that marijuana lowers the user's resistance to sexually transmitted diseases. Early studies showed decreased immune function in cells taken from marijuana users have since been disproved. Animals given extremely high doses of THC and exposed to a virus have higher rates of infection. Such studies show little relevance to humans. Even among people with existing immune disorders, such as AIDS, marijuana use appears relatively safe. However, the recent finding of an association between tobacco smoking and lung infection in AIDS patients warrants further research into possible harm from marijuana smoking in immune-suppressed persons."(9)

Myth: One marijuana cigarette causes a 41 percent decrease in driving skills. Two cigarettes a 63 percent decrease.

  • Headline from the Advertiser, Australian Newspaper on Wednesday, October 31st, 2023 read, "No Proof Cannabis Put's Drivers at Risk". Quoting Professor Jack Maclean of Adelaide University and Director of Road Accident Research "It has been impossible to prove marijuana affects driving adversely," he told the Australian Driver Fatigue Conference in Sydney. "There is no doubt marijuana affects performance but it may be it affects it in a favorable way by reducing risk taking. He went on to say that the lack of proof that marijuana was detrimental to driving was not because of a lack of effort by researches. "I can say that there are some quite distinguished researchers who are going through incredible contortions to try and prove that marijuana has to be a problem."(10)

The facts speak for themselves. While Dr. Dobson may know a lot about Christian families, it is evident that neither he or his only source, Harold M. Voth (11), is knowledgeable on the subject of marijuana. Given their ignorance, it is unconscionable that they should continue to advocate the the criminalization of millions of people that they neither know or care anything about.


Recommended Resources

SafteyFirst - A reality based approach to teens, drugs and drug education.

Drug War Facts

Truth Report

Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts: A Review Of The Scientific Evidence - Separate the facts from the science fiction

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