Marijuana proponents tout the idea that the biggest difference between cannabis and other drugs is that marijuana hasn’t caused people to overdose. Opponents continue to fight the fact, yet more and more studies are showing just how safe cannabis can be if it’s consumed properly.
An article in The Washington Post points out that, “compared to other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.”
The findings come from recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, where researchers set out to look at the risk of death associated with the use of different commonly used substances. In the end, they discovered that “at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.”
Finishing last but not least on the list—marijuana. The plant was “roughly 114 times less deadly than booze.” Researchers discovered the major difference by comparing lethal doses of a given substance with the amount that a typical person uses. Beside the major difference between marijuana and alcohol, cannabis was also the only drug studied that “posed low mortality risk to its users.”
The article points out that it’s important to note here that “safer than alcohol” doesn’t mean “safe, full stop.” Another issue is that marijuana legalization movement promotes the plant as “natural,” or because it can be used as (non-FDA approved) “medicine,” it is therefore “safe.” But, “rattlesnake venom is natural too, and nobody would call that safe. And prescription painkillers are both medicinal and responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year.” There are a number of risks associated with marijuana use, which mostly involve mental health issues that increase the earlier you start using and the more frequently you use.
The study’s authors also attacked how these substances are treated under the law, and the way that alcohol and nicotine get a “free pass” under the Controlled Substances Act. The authors pointed out that “legislative classifications of psychoactive drugs often ‘lack a scientific basis,’ and their findings are confirmation of this fact.” The authors recommended “risk management prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs.” And when it comes to marijuana, the low amounts of risk associated with the drug “suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach.”