7 Surprising Reasons Why Marijuana is Not a Health Food

Marijuana Myths

Marijuana is making headlines these days as a cure-all for a wide range of common issues, such as stress, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and pain management. Marketers are aggressively pushing this message to consumers, encouraging the use of cannabis as a natural treatment. The message appears to be working, as a national survey in 2018 found that 81% of Americans believe marijuana possesses at least one health benefit. This same survey reported that nearly 30% of adults in the U.S. believe that smoking weed helps prevent certain health issues.

But that is only one side of the story. Marketers neglect to mention that a wealth of research shows that marijuana also poses a variety of risks to users. This blog explores 7 common myths about cannabis and presents scientific evidence that gives you the real facts.

To help you be more informed about marijuana, it’s essential to understand that it contains two active compounds:

  • THC (the primary psychoactive compound that causes a high)
  • CBD (a non-psychoactive compound)

The myths explored in this blog are largely related to the psychoactive component of marijuana.

Some people may get the giggles while smoking pot, but the happy high doesn’t last. Research shows that cannabis use during adolescence increases the likelihood of depression. Click To Tweet

Myth: Marijuana makes you happy.

Fact: Marijuana increases the risk of depression and suicidality.

Some people may get the giggles while smoking pot, but the happy high doesn’t last. In 2019 JAMA Psychiatry published a review of 11 studies involving 23,317 people. This review found that cannabis use during adolescence increases the likelihood of becoming depressed, having suicidal thoughts, or attempting suicide in young adulthood.

Myth: Cannabis helps you sleep better.

Fact: Cannabis can disrupt sleep.

For some people, cannabis induces sleepiness, however, as the drug wears off it has the reverse effect, causing some individuals to awaken in the middle of the night and have a hard time going back to sleep. According to a 2022 study in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, adults who had used cannabis in the previous month were more likely to sleep less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours. Those who used the drug most frequently tended to be at the extremes of sleep duration—getting too little or too much sleep.

Myth: Weed is a natural way to calm anxiety.

Fact: Weed can make some people more anxious.

In the field of psychiatry, the use of marijuana and CBD oil as treatment options for mental health issues like anxiety is becoming more common. Although many people do find temporary relief from anxiousness, not everyone does. In fact, it makes some people feel worse. Research in the journal Neurology shows that higher concentrations of THC are associated with increases in anxiety. Racing thoughts and a fast heart rate, common symptoms of anxiety, have been noted in THC users.

Myth: Cannabis makes you more creative.

Fact: Cannabis can induce psychosis.

Although you may feel more expressive while high from marijuana, you are also at increased risk for psychosis, according to research. Just look at the findings of a 2019 study in The Lancet Psychiatry, which suggests that 10% of new cases of psychosis may be linked to high-potency cannabis. The study also found that daily users of high-potency weed were 5 times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder.

Myth: Marijuana doesn’t affect memory.

Fact: Marijuana may impair short-term and long-term memory.

Using marijuana temporarily interferes with thinking and negatively impacts short-term memory and working memory. This occurs because THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, attaches to receptors in the brain’s memory centers, including the hippocampus. A growing body of research points to a link between cannabis use and memory problems later in life. A 2016 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that past use of the drug is associated with a decline in verbal memory. Animal research shows that exposure to THC during adolescence is linked to memory problems later in life. In addition, the brain imaging work over the last 30 years at Amen Clinics shows that marijuana use negatively impacts brain structures involved with memory. A 2017 study by Amen Clinics published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease on more than 1,000 marijuana users found that a decrease in blood flow was most pronounced in the hippocampus, one of the brain’s major memory centers.

Myth: Cannabis is an innocuous substance.

Fact: Cannabis use negatively impacts the brain.

The Amen Clinics study mentioned above found decreased blood flow in nearly every area of the brain in marijuana users. In the world’s largest brain imaging study based on 62,454 SPECT scans, marijuana use was associated with accelerated aging in the brain. You don’t want a brain that is older than you are.

Myth: Smoking pot doesn’t affect your kids.

Fact: Smoking pot can harm future generations.

According to a 2017 report in JAMA, the percentage of women who are smoking weed while pregnant has increased from 2.4% to 3.9%, and it can have disturbing consequences for their offspring. A 2018 review of existing research shows that prenatal exposure to marijuana can impact fetal brain development, lead to cognitive deficits, and increase the risk of neuropsychological problems. In three large-scale longitudinal studies from the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands, the children of marijuana users exhibited greater impulsivity and hyperactivity, were more likely to have memory issues and had lower IQ scores compared to the offspring of non-users. Other research shows that as adolescents, the kids of pot smokers are at a much greater risk of having attention problems, depressive symptoms, and delinquent behavior.

When it comes to marijuana, caution is advised because we need to protect our own cognitive function and psychological health as well as that of future generations.

Addictions, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Can you speak more on cbd’s effect on the brain. Many cbd products have very small amounts of the. Are these bad for the brain? Thank you

    Comment by Lara — June 13, 2022 @ 3:41 AM

  2. Last comment was supposed to read small amounts of thc often found in cbd. Does this negatively effect the brain?

    Comment by Lara — June 13, 2022 @ 3:44 AM

  3. Thank you for a great article. Yes I question the explosion of THC.

    Comment by Timothy Lee — June 13, 2022 @ 3:47 AM

  4. While informative and filled with references to small studies, this article leaves me even more frustrated with the field of Psychology and treatment. Drugs are equally, if not more, harmful than marijuana and are prescribed readily by the field for treatment. This article would have been more palatable if it was balanced with the effects of prescriptions for the same mental health ailments. As a parent of two young adults with mental health challenges – it is so hard to navigate this field and find a balanced perspective on the treatment and management of such challenges. This article’s intent may have been to inform but just made it all the more confusing and quite frankly annoying.

    Comment by Nancy — June 13, 2022 @ 3:59 AM

  5. Just wondering, does CBD alone help with insomnia and anxiety? Are there any adverse side effects with CBD use?

    Comment by Pennie M Nakashima — June 13, 2022 @ 4:32 AM

  6. Some of the negative impacts such as sleep and anxiety, depend on which type such as an Indica or a Sativa .
    I have had Ulcerative colitis/Crohn’s for disease for 12 years. I was in big Pharma for many of those years. I did some research into the side affects of Apriso and Prednisone. The negative side affects one of them is you have a one in five chance of getting liver cancer that’s just one( one in five chance of Colin cancer just having the disease). I had a flare two or three times a year that would last for months while I was on big pharma .

    Eight years ago I found out about ginger root and marijuana . Used in combination ginger @ 3200 milligrams and smoking marijuana four times a day I have not had a flare in eight years.

    This article is inconclusive because it did not look into how different types of Marijuana such as Indica and Sativa affects a person . Example, Indica’s will make you sleepy and Sativa can make you anxious .

    Comment by Joeylynn Rouillard — June 13, 2022 @ 5:14 AM

  7. Thank you for posting this. I have seen it induce psychosis in children where they think they are either Jesus or the Devil. I have seen the brain scans of Dr. Amen’s clients where it shows what areas of the brain it affects. One area is the temporal area. I feel that it affects the temporal muscle and these people result in a slack jaw. I can pick these people out of a line-up. It also seems to affect the male children of their offspring as well and I see it in their facial structues as well.

    Comment by Wendy Meyer DC — June 13, 2022 @ 6:12 AM

  8. Now you should write a blog to highlight the many incredible benefits of CBD. Highlighting the psychoactive form, THC without addressing the non-psychoactive form, CBD is misleading. Medical professionals in the functional medicine world, the epigenetic world, along with bio hackers are onto the science of this beneficial compound and this blog is misleading leaving that info out.

    Comment by Christy W — June 13, 2022 @ 6:49 AM

  9. Would you please comment on the addictive potential of marijuana? Someone close to me says he’s not addicted but he behaves like an addict. What are the best treatment options for breaking the addiction? Thank you!

    Comment by JG — June 13, 2022 @ 6:53 AM

  10. I use CBD. Is this article saying that CBD without THC is not healthy? Or only CBD with THC?

    Comment by Pamela Stein — June 13, 2022 @ 7:10 AM

  11. I have found that microdocing (.83 mg) 1:1 THC/CBD is more efective for vestibular migraine than any of the new gpants or tricyclics that are commonly prescribed.

    Comment by Susan Reiman — June 13, 2022 @ 7:14 AM

  12. While technically this article appears to provide correct information I do not find it informative. May I see the details of the procedures used to determine the children were affected by marijuana use by the parents by ruling out the known fact that children learn by imitation and may be copying poor parental behavior examples which would occur as a result of any bad habit. Blaming the object used to impair performance is politics and not science just as guns which are blamed for shooting deaths are inanimate and therefore unable to cause anything. I am not on a crusade but I have been diagnosed with Tardive Dyskinesia and have found that medical marijuana eliminates my twitching but so far does nothing for my involuntary movement. I am moving away from using pharmaceuticals and moving towards organic sources, preferably fresh picked plants. For all you have said above you may as well have said nothing because your vague statements have no science behind them. The NIH and other NGOs public synopsis of studies without proof that procedures such as proper double blind steps were followed are not scientific proof but rather opinions based on observation. Please don’t interfere with progress being made in the area of organic treatments that work and stop criticizing when you have no solution to offer to the person’s physical ailments. In doing so you are turning your customers against yourself. Yes I am a patient of your clinic.

    Comment by Rickie Slater — June 13, 2022 @ 7:17 AM

  13. Excellent article! It is really good to see incredibly reputable organizations like the Amen Clinics publish the facts.

    Comment by Crystal Collier, PhD, LPC-S — June 13, 2022 @ 7:19 AM

  14. This article is cherry picked for misinformation about cannabis. Continuing to call it marijuana shows how misinformed this article is as that is a derogatory name given to during prohibition. As another commenter made some great points, what a poorly published post this does nothing but continue to of myths about the plant. For those who want sound information, contact a cannabis RN for help integrating the healing plant into your health routine safely. The American Cannabis Nurse Association can help you find a health professional that can help.

    Comment by Shanna Bennington — June 13, 2022 @ 8:21 AM

  15. I’m wondering about CBD w/o THC and CBD Isolate… are there negative side effects?

    Comment by Cindy — June 13, 2022 @ 8:36 AM

  16. I have smoked since I was 13 years old. I am 52. I would like you to show me where my brain shows negative effects of marijuana.

    Comment by Heather B — June 13, 2022 @ 8:37 AM

  17. There was a study several years ago that showed about 10% of Marijuana users will go on to use other drugs, in other words, Marijuana ia a gateway drug for some. Having worked with individuals in SUD treatment, this is true for some. The legalization of Marijuana was a huge moneymaker. The same people who destroyed tobacco are on board with Marijuana and not honest about the potential damage its use can inflict.

    Comment by Dawn — June 13, 2022 @ 8:38 AM

  18. We have found that my I’ll husband can avoid using opioids by using a small amount of marijuana. Also , it is one of the few times we can smile as his condition is overwhelming. Is is addictive? Yes, for some people as in his previous life he was. However the choice is between that and the extremely addictive opioids. I agree this article doesn’t seem to understand the choices people are faced with. It is true you can OD on the potent oils but it is generally very unpleasant but not life threatening nor long term. Dosing is everything.

    Comment by Brett bowman — June 13, 2022 @ 8:50 AM

  19. Hemp is considered one of the best phytoremediator plants, used around the world to clean soils and absorb industrial, agricultural and nuclear waste. For example it has been planted at Chernobyl to help remediate the soil. This trait of the marijuana plant should be examined, discussed, and included in articles. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Laura S, RN — June 13, 2022 @ 9:21 AM

  20. I’d like to know the effects of the non-psychotic CBD oil on the brain as this blog focuses on the THC part. Does it help or hinder mood such as depression and anxiety? Does it help with sleep?

    Comment by Lynne Raven Fahey — June 13, 2022 @ 10:03 AM

  21. I see a lot of “maybe”, “could”, “might”, nothing definitive! Cannabis is not for everyone, and we all know it’s for Adults 21+. Most of this pertains to those under 21, been a consumer for 30+ years and have experienced none of these symptoms, neither have anyone I know who consumes. As we always say “Keep Out Of Reach Of Children”!

    Comment by Reefer Madness — June 13, 2022 @ 10:31 AM

  22. Quick high , vibratory rate spike = depression
    Common scense
    Meditation/ Vegas nerve stimulation exercises
    I feel are healthier than cbd or pot smoking

    Comment by Raven Sto — June 13, 2022 @ 10:48 AM

  23. My views on cannabis use has changed over the past 4 years. There is much to be learned about cannabis, this product can be organic, pesticide free, all natural, being used for medical reasons …. but don’t be naive as I was of potential dangers especially from daily use of the very high THC products that are out there. I don’t need a double blind study nor, scientific research papers to convince me of the devastation this can bring to one’s life. I never heard the diagnosis Cannabis Induced Psychosis until it hit our family. For 30 years my son had no mental health issues. He started regular use of oils for pain. His life changed dramatically- he has had multiple police interactions, self injury, delusions, psychosis, schizophrenic behavior, depression, anxiety, difficulty focusing, “brain just doesn’t work any more,” no motivation, no confidence, dependent, 5 mental health hospital stays…. Also want to add just getting off the product does not make everything go back to the pre use normal. He has not used in over a year but damage to his brain remains.
    Please do yourself and the youth in your life a favor and get educated. A great source of information is the web site: johnnysambassadors.org
    Don’t think my son’s story and Johnny’s tragic story ending in suicide at 19 is a rarity – so many are suffering.

    Comment by Claudia Kuhne — June 13, 2022 @ 5:06 PM

  24. Thank you for sounding you voice in the wilderness of pro-cannabis propaganda. I’ve always thought as much given my anecdotal observations in practice, and from my observations of my peer group members who became heavy marijuna users. THC is truly addictive, and the farce of “medical marijuana” and now legal recreational marijuna use will only result in more psychiatric and social disorder among users.

    Comment by Phyllis Boone MSN ANP-BC Retired — June 13, 2022 @ 5:56 PM

  25. I was doing edibles to help me sleep because I was having anxiety which caused insomnia. After doing this for a short while, I found myself getting depression. And the edibles started to not work for sleep. And the nights it didn’t work, I’d be left feeling drowsy the entire day.

    Comment by April — June 14, 2022 @ 7:58 AM

  26. My oldest daughter has been diagnosed with Bipolar I. She has frequently self-medicated by smoking marijuana and not taking meds prescribed by her psychiatrist. She has 5 children. She told me that each time she was pregnant she stopped taking her prescribed meds, yet she always seemed very stable during her pregnancies. Her oldest child was born with a partial cleft palate which was diagnosed during the pregnancy which has required several surgeries and a lot of dental and orthodontic work. Her third child has learning disabilities. She is 7, and still cannot remember all of the alphabet, either to sing the song or to identify written letters. Smoking marijuana may have helped her control her mood swings, but it certainly did not help her children!

    Comment by PCP — June 15, 2022 @ 2:30 AM

  27. CBD helps with epilepsy at adult dose around 400 mg daily.

    Comment by Eric knapp — June 15, 2022 @ 5:17 PM

  28. I can tell you from experience that smoking marijuana has caused me to have anxiety or lead to an anxiety attack. I feel weird almost every time with racing heart beat. I had problems sleeping with it. Of course, short term memory loss. I’ve tried with or without medications. I just cannot tolerate marijuana. I can use CBD but very sparingly. I have been diagnosed with multiple mental disorders and it may be the reason why. Other people I know love it and can tolerate it.

    Comment by Jasmine — June 20, 2022 @ 2:54 PM

  29. What about CBD oil that is third-party tested to guarantee there is no THC in it? Is this unhealthy?

    Comment by Jean — June 20, 2022 @ 6:57 PM

  30. I want information of marijuana use during pregnancy
    Studies about damage to mothers and babys in utero please

    Comment by Gabriela Oria — June 30, 2022 @ 9:22 AM

  31. Thank you for the information. I find the info is a mirror to my what I have seen.

    Comment by Mom’s the word — July 4, 2022 @ 6:56 AM

  32. What I appreciate most about this article is the links to actual medical and scientific studies!

    However, it completely leaves out all the scientific and medical studies that prove the beneficial side effects!

    What about all the scientific and medical research that has been done to show the benefits to PTSD sufferers or the benefits to those with seizures or epilepsy.

    This article completely leaves those studies out. Which makes this article EXTREMELY bias and therefor not completely reliable.

    Just like any drug, not everyone will react the same way, and all drugs have negative side effects, as well as positive side effects. but not all will experience those negative side effects.

    As someone who suffered from PTSD for 3 years, and I still have it but not as bad after going through somatic, cognitive, and EMDR therapy, I can tell you that 9 times out of 10 smoking marijuana helped me endure PTSD episodes and would help me calm enough to be able to sleep on my own without nightmares and reliving what I went through.
    There are many medical and scientific studies that have proven pot to be beneficial to veterans as well as trauma and ptsd survivors like me.

    In addition, there are also many medical and scientific studies that show that pot suppresses or even rids epileptics of seizures! I even met someone once who said they hadn’t had a single one since using marijuana. That’s amazing! How can you just ignore the medical benefits.

    Present both sides. Just like all medications there are risks as well as benefits. A informative article can only truly be credible if it presents both sides.

    You can’t present one without the other, that’s what makes this biased.

    With that said, there are some things we ALL can agree on. Marijuana really DOES have detrimental effects to youth. I think we can all agree with that and there are so many studies that DO back that. They are now linking smoking pot in youth to depression, psychosis, or even schizophrenia.

    As someone who has used, I also refuse to use if and when someday I get pregnant. I also made my husband swear we will stop once we have children and we both agreed and I believe we will fully keep that promise because of the studies that show the detrimental effects to children.

    So I’m not saying this article is bad or misleading, but it clearly IS biased.

    I would like to see it republished with both.

    This is why I like reading the scientific and medical studies much better because they show both effects and remain unbiased where this is a company promoting your clinic.

    This would be so much more powerful to show both sides. There were also a few places where there were no links to studies. One mentioned animal research but yet no human clinical trials or a link to that animal research.

    I would like to see this article again someday in a more credible light showing both beneficial, as well as negative effects.

    Comment by Shelley K — December 11, 2022 @ 10:55 AM

  33. Although this article may be helpful in some ways I find it to be one sided. I take a cbd with no THC for chemo induced neuropathy and it has been the only clean solution for my pain versus the drugs offered with their serious side effects. I’d like to see this article address the “pain killing” effect that medical marijuana can have for people.

    Comment by Ranelle Falkenberg — June 5, 2023 @ 8:13 AM

  34. I appreciate that this article references actual, clinical studies from credible sources. However, as other commenters have mentioned, it is rather biased and best, and misleading at worst, as all of the studies cited are based on either:

    1. One or more extreme circumstances (i.e., adolescent populations, whose bodies and brains are still developing and thus more susceptible to adverse effects from anything than are adults; consumption of large doses);

    2. Only studied smoking (which is a damaging method to introduce *anything* into the body), or the use of "street grade" recreational products AKA "weed";

    3. Do not address the effects of THC-free (AKA CBD-only) cannabis products, micro-dosing, or the effects of different cannabis strains (the cannabinoid profiles of different strains have different proportions of the various compounds responsible for causing or suppressing certain effects).

    Cannabis products (either CBD isolates or full-spectrum preparations) have also scientifically been shown to be of immense help for patients with drug-resistant mental health disorders, chronic pain disorders, and even anti-inflammatory conditions, while having fewer side effects than the pharmaceutical products "traditionally" thrown at them. The difference between the two worlds is an*adult* using full-spectrum or isolate hemp products (edibles, tinctures, oils, capsules, etc) that have been laboratory standardized for both content, dose, and potency and obtained through a reputable dispensary or under the guidance of a cannabis physician— and a still-developing teenager smoking a joint of god-knows-what with no quality control whatsoever that they bought from a guy in a hoodie on the corner (no offense to the hoodie-wearers out there).

    This article addresses none of that. You could substitute alcohol and binge drinking for every mention of marijuana/weed/smoking pot in this article to see how ridiculous and one-sided this presentation is; that long-term alcohol use increases ones risk of serious health problems, binge drinking is actively poisonous to the body and brain, and alcoholism is a real, chronic disease entity does not negate that millions of people around the world through the years are able to consume it in small amounts, in a responsible manner, without endangering themselves or others. The same is true of cannabis.

    As for my own anecdotal evidence, regular use of full-spectrum hemp edibles (with the approval of my psychiatrist and other doctors I see) has freed me to lower the dose of my long-term psych medications and successfully kept me off ADHD medications, greatly decreased my alcohol intake (as I no longer need to "self-medicate" the anxiety, stress, depression, etc), and manages my autoimmune aches and pains without the need for steroids or other prescription drugs. I'm able to calibrate my regular dose precisely depending on my needs on a given day: half a dose to boost mental focus and calm; double dose for active pain reduction.

    Comment by HopeNotDope — June 5, 2023 @ 9:20 AM

  35. All of the people who want cannabis, either THC or CBD, to work for them usually want a "quick fix". Doing the hard work of keeping oneself in shape with a healthy diet, exercise, brain games, meditation, and abstaining from all forms of "feel good" additives (i.e. alcohol, drugs, and self-medicating, etc.) eludes about 90% of Americans. Dr. Amen's brain scans do not lie, and tell the honest truth about what people are really doing to their brains. Thank you Dr. Amen for all your education!

    Comment by Mrs. Ferris S.Whitfield — June 5, 2023 @ 10:14 AM

  36. Great Post ! While marijuana does have potential medical uses, it's essential to recognize its limitations and potential risks, especially when used recreationally. Responsible use, informed by medical advice and in compliance with local laws, is crucial to minimizing these risks. Public education and awareness campaigns play a vital role in promoting a balanced understanding of marijuana's effects and encouraging responsible use.

    Comment by Jason Harvey — October 19, 2023 @ 6:23 AM

  37. Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I've read stuff
    from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I
    will just bookmark this page.

    Comment by Weed Delivery Services — November 16, 2023 @ 10:55 AM

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