Cannabis connoisseurs have been saying for years that marijuana is a safer recreational substance than alcohol. Now they can use the DEA to back up their argument.
"No deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported," the DEA wrote in the 2017 resource guide titled Drugs of Abuse. The guide offers the lay of the land in terms of illicit drug consumption across America today. The fact that there are no reported deaths due to cannabis overdose means that marijuana is demonstrably safer than liquor, which causes approximately 6 deaths every day due to alcohol poisoning.
The guide also noted that the effects of cannabis included "merriment," "happiness," "enhanced sensory perception," "increased appreciation of music, art and touch," and "heightened imagination."
Those notes make it all the more surprising that marijuana remains one of the most highly prohibited substances in the country. The federal government has slotted marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, meaning marijuana is classified as a drug that has "a high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States" (to use the guide's language). So even though marijuana has never caused a fatal overdose, it's listed alongside dangerous substances like heroin.
Ironically, the DEA guide notes that "some states within the United States have allowed the use of marijuana for medicinal purpose" despite federal prohibition. And by "some" they mean 30 states - more than half the country plus Washington, D.C. - allow patients to use cannabis to treat conditions such as chronic pain, insomnia and HIV. So there are accepted uses within the United States, but the federal government refuses to recognize them.
And that's a huge problem for patients living in the 20 states where medicinal cannabis remains illegal. In those jurisdictions - which include Texas as well as Virginia - people often have to resort to using medications like Fentanyl and Oxycodone, which are fuelling the opioid epidemic that claimed the lives of over 33,000 Americans in 2015 alone. But the feds recognize those potentially lethal pills as medicine, so they continue to be prescribed across the country while cannabis remains strictly prohibited.