Zero overdoses? Who cares. There are bigger issues at hand
A few days ago, the Huffington Post ran an article, “Here's How Many People Fatally Overdosed On Marijuana Last Year,” which led to the very excited “ZERO” graphic shown below.
While it's true that zero users overdosed on the drug, marijuana is certainly not blameless in a slew of other avoidable tragedies.
Casual readers may not understand that the Huffington Post's figure isn't representative of the detrimental impact that marijuana has had on adolescents and adults alike. For example, both before and after legalization, marijuana has accounted for the single greatest drug of choice in inpatient rehabs. And when you think of the tragic story of the kid who overdosed on heroine (these are other statistics the article highlighted from the CDC) we all just damn the heroin.
But in far too many cases, that kid’s story started off with alcohol and marijuana and escalated from there.
When I read “no overdose,” I know that many others read “no problem,” and that simply is NOT the case. We need to better inform ourselves.
First, there's the issue of driving high. Even when marijuana-intoxicated drivers manage to make it from point A to point B without incident, they're still posing a great (and wholly unnecessary) danger to their fellow citizens. And when we read about a fatal car crash due to alcohol intoxication, we rarely hear about the marijuana that was also in the driver's system. We don’t yet have effective ways to test for marijuana intoxication in drivers, so this incredibly important piece of data gets left out.
Driving while under the influence of marijuana is a dangerous reality that we can't reliably track yet — but make no mistake, marijuana use DOES a play role in car accidents and fatalities.
In Colorado alone we have seen the detrimental effects of marijuana edibles triggering hallucinations in users. For some, that paranoia and delusional thinking ended in “a bad trip,” but in other cases, it's ended in suicide or murder. These are not gross exaggerations or made up stories; they are the unfortunate outcome of people thinking that marijuana is “safe and natural.”
In particular, the mostly unregulated edibles market makes marijuana look like and taste like yummy candy, which leads to some users consuming way too much of the highly potent doses of THC in these "treats."
Because no one predicted that people would demand edibles at this level, the government is now playing catch-up, spending lots of time and revenue trying to regulate and label edibles more clearly. They hope these measures will help avoid further cases of preventable misuse of edible marijuana, but only time will tell.
Don't let the flashy info-graphics fool you. Marijuana may not cause overdoses, but it absolutely CAN cause severe damage to our society.