These 10 Deadly Drugs Are Safer Than Marijuana, According To The US Government

If you want a snapshot of just how backward the American government is when it comes to marijuana laws, check out this list of 10 deadly drugs that the feds say are safer than cannabis. 

To put together the list, we went through the DEA's latest guidebook on illicit substances, where marijuana is lumped in with Schedule I drugs - the most tightly restricted substances in the country. The federal government defines Schedule I drugs as highly addictive and dangerous, which doesn't make sense for marijuana since nobody has ever died of a cannabis overdose.

The same can't be said for the substances on our list.

1. Phencyclidine (PCP), Schedule II

PCP (a.k.a. 'angel dust,' a.k.a. what Ethan Hawke smoked in Training Day) is a potent hallucinogen that was originally developed as an anaesthetic. Abusing it can slow down respiration to dangerous levels, but deadly overdoses are rare. However, causing bodily harm to one's self or another isn't uncommon as PCP can result in feelings of invulnerability, aggression and paranoid hallucinations.

Just google 'pcp attack' and you'll find lots of stories of people high on the drug lashing out - like in 2016 when a PCP-inebriated man who viciously assaulted two police officers in Chicago. You don't see that sort of thing at a Phish concert.

2. Laudanum, Schedule II

Nowadays, doctors warn patients against mixing alcohol and opioid painkillers because the combination can become a lethal cocktail.

But that wasn't the case in the 19th century, when laudanum - an alcohol-based opium tincture - was arguably the most popular medicinal and recreational drug among writers like Samuel Coleridge. Laudanum appears in stories like Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein,' Charles Dickens' 'Oliver Twist' and of course Thomas de Quincey's 'Confessions of an English Opium Eater.'

Unfortunately, it also appeared in the obits since laudanum was both as addictive and potentially deadly as modern opioids.

3. Hydrocodone, Schedule II

This painkiller/cough suppressant is often sold under brandnames like Hysingla ER and Zohydro ER. While it isn't the most dangerous opioid on the market, misusing it can cause fatal overdoses. In 2014 alone, hydrocodone was involved in the deaths of 3,274 Americans.

4. Methamphetamine, Schedule II

The illicit stimulant manufactured by Walter White in the TV show 'Breaking Bad' has become a real-life nightmare for America. In 2014, meth claimed the lives of 3,728 Americans.

5. Morphine, Schedule II

One of the oldest painkillers is also one of the deadliest. Physicians have given patients morphine since the days of the Byzantine Empire, but they haven't found a way to make it safe over the years. Morphine claimed the lives of 4,022 Americans in 2014.

6. Methadone, Schedule II

This opioid is often used to help heroin and morphine addicts curb their dependence as they progress toward recovery. But you could call it the lesser of evils since - like its cousins - methadone is addictive and deadly. The CDC estimates that methadone kills approximately 5,000 Americans every year.

Meanwhile, researchers have suggested that cannabis might be a safer and more effective way to wean people off of opioid addiction.

7. Oxycodone, Schedule II

Researchers developed oxycodone during World War I while searching for a painkiller that was as potent as heroin and morphine but less addictive. The experiment failed then and continues to fail now as oxycodone claimed the lives of 5,417 Americans in 2014 alone. 

8. Benzodiazepines, Schedule IV

Benzodiazepines are a group of common anti-anxiety opioids sold under brandnames that include Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam) and Valium (diazepam) - the addictive and deadly drug that The Rolling Stones sung about in Mother's Little Helper.

Combined, benzodiazepines were involved in the deaths of 8,791 Americans in 2015.

9. Cocaine, Schedule II

The recreational vice of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective Sherlock Holmes was popular in the 19th century as an anaesthetic and a remedy for colds, toothaches, melancholia and other ailments. Nowadays, cocaine is mostly used as a recreational drug that can have deadly consequences.

In 2015, coke and derivatives like crack claimed the lives of 6,784 Americans

10. Fentanyl, Schedule II

Fentanyl is a potent painkiller that is similar 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It's sold under brandnames like Sublimaze and Actiq - the opioid lollipop (yes, that's a thing). 

Fentanyl was the deadliest opioid of 2015 after heroin, claiming the lives of 9,580 Americans while smack killed 12,989 that year.

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