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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Study: Marijuana Is "114 Times" Safer Than Alcohol

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 1:54 PM

In America, poisoning ourselves is a national pastime, a weekly ritual and perfectly acceptable — and legal — behavior.

Alcohol is the most dangerous substance
click to enlarge Common-er knowledge. - MARIJUANAPOLICYPROJECT.ORG
  • Common-er knowledge.
 known to man, according to a new study that investigated the mortality risk presented by all kinds of drugs, including heroin, MDMA, and nicotine.

Alcohol had the highest risk of any drug tested, a team of German researchers found, and other "high-risk" classification drugs included cocaine, nicotine, and heroin.

Only one drug was classified as "low risk," according to the research published in Scientific Reports late last month. That would be cannabis, which is 114 times less deadly than chief killer alcohol.

These results "confirm that the risk of cannabis may have been overestimated in the past," the researchers wrote. "In contrast, the risk of alcohol may have been commonly underestimated."

You don't say.
The study looked at the risk posed to individuals and to populations by drug use. They used a figure called "margin of exposure" — the ratio between a drug's "toxicological threshold" and "estimated human intake." The closer the MOE was to 1, the deadlier the drug.

In other words: how likely is a drug going to do damage to a person's body, and how badly is a society affected by drug users?

And only alcohol was deemed "high-risk" to a population. On the individual level, alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, and heroin were all classified as high-risk.

Please note that the American government officially classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, the highest risk known to man. Cocaine is Schedule II.

Alcohol poses the highest risk of any drug mostly due to its wide availability, researchers found. Pound-for-pound, heroin is still the deadliest game, with a lethal dose clocking in at two milligrams per kilogram of body weight, Yahoo News noted. Alcohol is deadly at 531 milligrams per kilo of person.

Booze had an MOE of over 10. Cannabis's MOE was over 10,000. The study's authors wrote that this is further evidence that marijuana should be legalized and regulated. The findings "suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach," they wrote.

Meanwhile, marijuana is illegal almost everywhere. One reason why the drug is still illegal in Europe, despite growing acknowledgement of studies like this, is extortion from the United States. Countries run the risk of losing favored trade status with the US if marijuana is treated like the softer drug it is, as travel writer Rick Steves told a convention crowd in San Francisco recently.

Think about this the next time you're shaking off a Monday morning hangover.
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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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