Marijuana has become legal throughout 23 states, and the number of deaths connected with marijuana overdoses is significant: 0.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of absolutely zero deaths from a marijuana overdose has remained constant according to figures released last month.
Though Americans aren’t dying as a result of marijuana overdoses, the same can’t be said for a range of other substances, both legal and illegal.
In 2015, according to the CDC, over 17,000 people in the United States died from overdosing on drugs like heroin and cocaine. Over 26,000 people died from overdosing on prescription drugs, including prescription painkillers and tranquilizers.
The CDC’s findings show that opioid overdose levels rose so sharply in 2014, approximately 14% from the previous year, that it described the levels as “epidemic.”
Sadly, Alcohol, an even more accessible substance, is killing Americans at a rate not seen in over three decades. According to a Washington Post analysis of federal data, the more than 30,700 Americans who died from alcohol-induced causes last year doesn’t include alcohol-related deaths like drunk driving or accidents. If these statistics were included, the death toll would be more than two and a half times higher.
According to a widely cited 2006 report in American Scientist, “Alcohol is more lethal than many other commonly abused substances.” The report also notes:
“Drinking a mere 10 times the normal amount of alcohol within 5 or 10 minutes can prove fatal, whereas smoking or eating marijuana might require something like 1,000 times the usual dose to cause death. “
Although marijuana, like many substances, has the potential to be abused and lead to dangerous behaviors like drugged driving, there is not a single fatal overdose on record. Ingesting too much could lead to a bad experience, though still not as detrimental or even nearly as damaging as overdosing on alcohol or other drugs.
American attitudes toward marijuana for both therapeutic and recreational uses are changing. But legalization is still vigorously opposed by groups like the pharmaceutical industry, which stands to lose big if people seek out medical marijuana for treatment. Police unions also oppose marijuana, since they would lose federal funding for the war on drugs.