Study: Pot may be even safer than previously thought


By Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

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.

Those are the topline findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly-used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.

And all the way at the bottom of the list? Weed — roughly 114 times less deadly than booze, according to the authors, who ran calculations that compared lethal doses of a given substance with the amount that a typical person uses. Marijuana is also the only drug studied that posed low mortality risk to its users.

These findings reinforce drug safety rankings developed 10 years ago under a slightly different methodology. So in that respect, the study is more of a reaffirmation of previous findings than anything else. But given the current national and international debates over the legal status of marijuana and the risks associated with its use, the study arrives at a good time.

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Comments (18)
  1. copper says - Posted: February 23, 2015

    Wait a minute. You mean the faux political gurus of DEA are wrong? Surely this is a first; they’ve never been mistaken before. All this time, could they have been driven by some consideration other than honestly serving their public?

  2. sunriser2 says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    Fox news? How about Law Enforcement unions and trade associations. If/when we make pot legal how will they get to play with all their military toys?

  3. legal beagle says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    Examining some of the reasons behind anti-marijuana legislation and racism is near the top of the list.
    Couldn’t have certain groups running amuck and causing carnage and attacking white women while under the influence.
    Our country’s history of discrimination is slowly being rectified at long last.
    The drinking alcohol industry is upset at the prospect of less business as they fight to stop common sense.
    We all know alcohol is the direct cause of thousands of murders, millions of women getting the crap knocked out of them, and the destruction of families.

  4. Mr mustache says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    @legal beagle well said. The hypocrisy is astounding. i think America has spoken. We’re sick and tired of being micromanaged by endless 3 letter agencies. Time to get some personal liberties back in this country.

  5. Justice says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    Since their study was based on calculations of mortality it is of little value as lung cancer takes many years as does brain psychosis to be evident and in some cases to be lethal. The studies from the UK show that this drug causes brain psychosis as in brain damage in even small amounts and casual use which is one major reason to keep it away from young people. There is also the toxic analysis of the contents of some cannabis that would stop people from using it if they knew, especially the stuff coming in from the cartels, do people think they are looking out for their health in any poison that they smuggle in and sell and they use banned pesticides as well as do other outlaw growers. There are often large amounts of toxic ammonia found in cannabis among other things. Those who do use this drug should demand a complete analysis of the ingredients and read the UK studies before they ingest it and make informed decisions before they think this is some natural medicine.

  6. amy m says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    Hmm pot good vitamins bad.

  7. Isee says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    Justice-It is natural medicine. Most may use it for recreation but for those who can’t use pharma drugs- it can be a lifesaver. Thank your lucky stars if you’re not one of those people.

  8. Haddi T. Uptahere says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    The leading cause of death is life.
    Without life the mortality rate would be zero. One of the key components of life is the quality of that life. Quality of life is an INDIVIDUAL choice. For instance, I would never try and tell YOU what makes your life a quality life. Why on earth would YOU try and prevent others from finding a quality of life THEY enjoy.
    Go ahead, argue against life.

  9. Justice says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    Strange that these articles keep appearing and there is a motive behind them to dumb down people and provide for expansion of a drug and those who want in on the profits, it is an economic motive like glamorizing tobacco use was and the dangers as now of cannabis use and addiction are well hidden. Along the general rule of freedom of choice, make an informed decision about your life as an adult and what you ingest based on knowledge and if it is an intoxicant, do everyone a favor and stay home and off the roads.

  10. Cranky Gerald says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    A study based on fatal doses is not a reason to legalize anything.
    It is very difficult to do, but drinking too much water can be fatal.
    I agree that probably smoking pot to a lethal dose is impossible, your throat and lungs would not stand that and you would quit
    Already extraction of purer and purer active ingredients from pot is a big deal. How much hash oil can one person ingest without risking death?
    I think this study is flawed in its premise.

  11. Justice says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    This same study would rank tobacco use as a very low risk for mortality because of the amount required would be hard to quantify to be dangerous. It is deeply flawed and there is an economic motive for it by those who want to sell it for profit.

  12. rock4tahoe says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    The toxic dose of Tobacco aka Nicotine is 500 – 1000 mg or about 40 cigarettes at once. Pot aka THC, in theory, has no toxic dose for Humans (normal Adult) based on studies of monkeys and large dogs. It is estimated that a Human would need to smoke 4 pounds of Pot at once to ingest 3000mg of THC; but even that level was not found toxic to Monkeys.

  13. Level says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    Toxicity is generally measured by an LD50 number, which is the lethal dose in 50% of test animals, and is represented in a formula of the number of milligrams of pure active substance per the number of kilograms of body weight. The higher the LD50 number, the lower the toxicity.

    The LD50 of nicotine is 50 mg/kg

    Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) has an LD50 of 200 mg/kg

    Table salt has an LD50 of 3,000 mg/kg

    THC has an estimated LD 50 of approximately 30,000 mg/kg (estimated by the DEA in 1988)

  14. Justice says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    Interesting info. This would mean a further analysis of the ingredients of cannabis and what happens when smoked would need to be added to the study for a result and ingredients would vary with the grower. I wonder how the cannabis was being given to the test animals for the result.

  15. Haddi T. Uptahere says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    Fred Astaire could not have tap danced around my question better than you. My take on your response is that you are okay with people making decisions for themselves as long as it is in the sanctity of their own homes. Is that correct? Am I right in my assumption that you would never think of telling other people how to enjoy the quality of their lives? This is actually a very easy question that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Put your dance slippers up and answer the question. :)

  16. Justice says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    I said several sentences that answered the question posed. You are correct in what I said about your freedom of choice as an adult means making informed decisions about what you ingest which would include everything from food to alcohol to drugs. Your freedom in your home is important and should remain undisturbed if you are not violating laws. Then I said stay home when intoxicated and off the roads. That about covers it.

  17. duke of prunes says - Posted: February 24, 2015

    “This same study would rank tobacco use as a very low risk for mortality because of the amount required would be hard to quantify to be dangerous.”

    Except that we know tobacco causes cancer and costs us billions of dollars every year. Did you really think that was an intelligent response?

  18. Justice says - Posted: February 25, 2015

    Tobacco in it’s pure leaf form would not be as lethal and should be comparable to cannabis, not the processed additive laden infused corporate chemical laden tobacco was the point I was thinking of.