Marijuana Much Riskier Than Alcohol

By corvardus · Jan 19, 2010 · Updated Jan 19, 2010 · ·
  1. corvardus
    Marijuana Much Riskier than Alcohol

    How many have called for the decriminalization of marijuana? Supposedly it doesn’t harm anyone else. Even President Obama repeatedly promised to stop federal interference with state laws that allow the medical use of marijuana. The writer is reminded of a comment by Connecticut editorialist Joe Bell saying that the legalization of drugs was reminiscent of how the subject can make otherwise solid thinkers turn into intellectual oatmeal.

    So many have claimed that what one does to himself without any harm to anyone else is his business only. If you have any close relatives, if you go to school, if you work in a job that involves others, if you have a spouse and/or children, neighbors, or if you drive on roads, you directly effect others. That involves others 99.4% of the time. If you happen to be driving down the road and you become distracted or psychotic and hit me, or worse–my wife or daughter–you are an eminent hazard.

    In Brent Bozell : “Weeds” and Marijuana Chic –, he points out that in the 2006 Nation Survey on Drug Use and Health, there were 14.8 million current users of “pot”, and 4.2 million Americans who were classified as dependent or abusers of marijuana. The same 2006 survey also found that 16.1% of hospital drug treatment admissions were for marijuana, which was the primary drug of abuse.

    From George Will : Dose of Realism in a Drug War –, it seems obvious that Gil Kerlikowshe, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, realized the difficulties with drugs in America–especially marijuana. Asked about marijuana being a “gateway” drug he responded guardedly, “You don’t find many heroin users who didn’t start with marijuana”. The cannabis smoked today, referred to as “skunk” (or AK-47, White Widow, Armageddon), is readily accessible online.

    Statistics from the National Treatment Agency (UK), revealed number of under-18 year olds who sought drug treatment for addiction to marijuana almost doubled in a years time–from 5,000 in 2005 to 9,600 in 2006. Over 13,000 adults also sought similar treatment for addition. But that was 4 years ago. In “Pot Is More Dangerous than LSD or Heroine” – Liberal UK Newspaper …, as well as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, it was documented how the weed in circulation that the “baby-boomers” smoked in college was typically 2-3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Now, the active ingredient of THC is 20-30% of the existing cannabis.

    More importantly, a Study: Even Infrequent Use of Marijuana Increases Risk of … psychosis by 40%, was conducted. Alarmingly from Britain is hard data with emergency-room admissions involving cannabis are rising. Robin Murray (professor of Psychiatry at London’s Institute of Psychiatry) says that, in his estimation, at least 25,000 of the 250,000 schizophrenics in in the UK could have avoided the affliction if they had not used cannabis. “Psychosis” is defined by the dictionary as: “Any severe form of mental disturbance or disease which may also be associated with physical disease, and which produces deep and far reaching disruption of normal behavior and social functioning.”

    Medical Reseach Council (Professor Colin Blakemore) admitted, “The link between cannabis and psychosis is quite clear now; it wasn’t 10 years ago.” Antonio Maria Costa (UN Office on Drugs and Crime) said “Evidence of the damage to mental health caused by cannabis use–from loss of concentration to paranoia, aggressiveness and outright psychosis–is mounting and cannot be ignored.” Confirming, but alarming data from a 2005 study at New Zealand’s University of Otaga revealed that marijuana smoking can raise the risk of mental illness by 50%.

    Jonathon Owen (Independent/ England) had previously campaigned for the legalization of ‘pot’. Now, with the recent available medical data, he admits that key elements of their decriminalization efforts were flawed. A Canadian Supreme Court declared it within the government’s jurisdiction to outlaw its use [So how dangerous is skunk? - Health News, Health & Families - The ...]. Canadian Director Derek Rogusky (Focus on the Family) showed how decriminalization of marijuana actually led to greater use (see above link on “pot is more dangerous”).

    In the Netherlands, decriminalization was accompanied by large increases in the numbers of users. Just between 1984 and 1992, student increases in the use of marijuana was 250%. Interesting, he also found out that young people who use marijuana are 85x more likely to begin using cocaine than teens who never tried ‘pot’. Mexican President Vincente Fox reversed his decision to decriminalize marijuana as can be seen in

    The Office of National Drug Control Policy (White House) admitted that a teenager who was depressed in the last year was twice as likely to have used marijuana than teenagers who did not report being depressed (25% to 12%) [Office of National Drug Control Policy - Juveniles & Drugs: Facts ...]. Depression at some time is a fact of life for most teenagers sometime during the year. And they’re the ones calling for decriminalization .

    Alcohol may be risky at high levels, but knowing the number of drinks you’ve had, what your alcohol tolerance is, or simply taking a breathlyzer test to make sure you’re under 0.8 % alcohol in the bloodstream can keep one within the lawful limit. For marijuana, one doesn’t know his tolerance, there are no legal limits of detectability, one normally drives almost everywhere, no one knows the actual potency of any cannabis plant nor do they know what the future potency may be, and one rarely knows if they can become psychotic, or at what level the symptoms my raise their ugly head.

    In fact it’s a good bet that if you’ve ever smoked cannabis before, you’ll probably do it again. And the writer would somehow be foolish enough to give his OK for you to smoke marijuana before or during driving around his wife or children? Maybe when pigs fly.

    Kevin Roeten
    January 18, 2010


  1. Nature Boy
    16.1% of hospital drug admissions despite being the most popular drug by far. This statistic isn't shocking or revealing of anything. A hospital drug admission is vague. Interesting to note no reports of death or serious injuries. If anything, the statistic seems to indicate how common false alarms are.
  2. Raoul duke420
    Wow they crammed alot of bullshit into that article, "marijuana clearly causes psychosis", "heroin addicts all got started by smoking pot" "more dangerous than alcohol"....blah blah blah. Just more propoganda.
  3. NeuroChi
    Even if this were true, what could they possible do to treat someone who's high.

    If it were explained before hand that it won't kill you, these hospital admissions would drop.
  4. Crazy Insane Sanity
    Please see the quote in my signature!

    Here's another one for you!

    "It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it."
    ~George Washington

    So lets just throw away our (at least America's) founding father's beliefs...they obviously didn't know what they were doing...freedom is obviously too dangerous, lets all convert to fascist dictators! I mean the world obviously wouldn't be dangerous anymore if we control every aspect of people's lives, right? Fucking Christ, people annoy me.

    Furthermore, a couple of the smartest people I've ever known (one top of his class in college too!) were massive pot smokers. Just because idiots smoke pot doesn't mean all pot heads are idiots! This is a logical fallacy...what the hell is wrong with people?
  5. twotimesover
    A little off topic maybe, but the attached pic looks like the work of R. Crumb. Anyone know who created that?
  6. Terrapinzflyer
    ^^ R Crumb created it
  7. Slitfang
    haha everyones been high to the point that, for a small while, you think you've smoked to much. thankfully, thats not possible ;)
  8. bruinsrule
    Wow too bad you didnt know that 99.9% of all statistics can be 100% fabricated. See what I just did??

    Swim says that this is all BS marijuana is 1000% safer than alcohol and if you say otherwise you are flat out lying. Just like all of the statistics in this survey drives swim nuts honestly makes him want punch things.

    I was never rear ended by a stoned driver only 2 drunk ones so case and point. Alcohol is known to have far more drastic consequences and CAN KILL YOU in high doses marijuana cannot. Perhaps they should investigate other reasons for the rising psychosis than marijuana, its easy to blame a plant. NOt easy to blame a society (globally) that encourages introvertedness loneliness, and above all stress. There is a great deal of stress and loneliness that acompinies youths in todays world that wasnt existant before. Perhaps people are just way to fast to blame the easy thing than taking a look at themselves.
  9. lynchianmicrowave
    Agreed. Alcohol is an odd choice for the main comparison of the article considering that it's not just dangerous but one of the most dangerous substances in existence. And, as it always is, the "gateway drug" argument is completely worthless. "A heroin user also uses marijuana" does not logically imply that a marijuana user will become a heroin user, obviously.
  10. rawbeer
    Therapeutic Index refers to the ratio of a drugs effective dose to its ld50 (dose that will kill 50% of people).
    Marijuana does not have one because their is no firm ld50 established for marijuana. 1/4 gram of good smoke is more than enough to get a normal person high. 1oz, 112X this amount, is known to be well below the ld50 for an average person. So the index for MJ is at least 112, and I'm being really forgiving here.

    For alcohol Dale Pendell lists the index as 'about 5'. I'm again going to give the bad guys a bone here - a BAC of .03 is generally considered to be the minimum for actual intoxication by alcohol. The ld50 is generally accepted as a BAC of 0.40. This gives us an index of 13.33. It's worth noting that this article lists the legal limit BAC as twice the ld50 (0.8), so what does this say about their wield of numbers?

    Heroin - Erowid lists a minimal effective dose, intravenously, as 5-10mg. The ld50 is considered to be somewhere in the 300mg range (again I'm being kind, 1/3g or 350mg is commonly listed, and 57mg/kg is the ld50 for mice). At worst this gives it an index of 30.

    So heroin is roughly twice as safe as alcohol (possibly 6X safer), and marijuana is basically infinitely safer than either.

    LSD is equally as problematic as pot - even using the estimate ld50 of 12,000mics and giving the effective dose as a generous 100mics we get and index of 120, although 12,000mics is almost certainly much too low and 100 mics too high.

    So marijuana is safer than heroin and alcohol, and we can probably say equally as safe as LSD (pot and LSD are by far the safest 'drugs of abuse' known and can be compared to caffeine, possibly even safer). What measure of safety could possibly tip this balance to make marijuana more dangerous than heroin or LSD? Or alcohol? Therapeutic index is probably the most objective measure of a substance's danger there is.
    If the 'danger' measure relates to likelihood of psychosis then using LSD and heroin makes no sense because LSD is a relatively large psychosis risk (again I'm being nice to these people) whereas heroin has no association with psychosis other than that psychotics may be drawn to heroin as a way of self-medicating, or that psychosis may occur as a withdrawal symptom after severe addiction (as it does with alcohol).

    Bruinsrule pretty much said it in the first sentence.
  11. corvardus
    More than forgiving...

    My grandmother did some research on Google, and this data is found in the Merck index

    No one that my grandmother knows shoots up pure THC so SWIM is presuming the Oral dose would be applicable. An 80kg person would have to consume 38,560mg of pure THC. So lets be twats and say humans are more fragile than mice at 30,000mg THC.

    The strongest SWIM has heard of is 30% Warlock. Leading to 100g of weed. According to (Grotenhermen F (2003). "Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids". Clin Pharmacokinet 42 (4): 327–60. ) only 30% is 10-35% (inhalation), 6-20% (oral)

    So lets pick the largest number by smoking.... 35% so that is 286g of Warlock (30% THC content) to reach LD50.

    So one would have to smoke 10oz of Warlock to reach LD50.

    So the therapeutic index given your value of 0.25g and 286g for LD50 is 1140. SWIM feels this a more realistic number even with the caveats given in the post. It really puts into perspective

    SWIM would also like to point out that even therapeutic index can be misleading. SWIM has heard of people dying from LSD by misidentifying the substance. Cannabis is impossible to smoke to death, quite simply since whoever was foolish to try would cause irreversable damage to the lungs due to the temperature of the smoke before 10oz could be smoked and would probably die due to lung damage rather than THC overdose.

    For shits and giggles.

    LD50 (oral) = 192mg/kg (15,360mg @ 80kg)
    ED50 = 12.9mg/kg (1,032mg @ 80kg)

    Therapeutic Index = 15 ^^

    Considering that a normal cup of coffee, generously, is approximately 250mg, you'd have to drink quite a bit.

    So I hope you understand why I am replying. Even the humble cup of coffee is more dangerous than heroin given Therapeutic Index. Clearly we don't see people dying left, right and centre from coffee overdoses!

    Yes and no. Therapeutic index simply gives a number that has no context. If one was to perform a rational approach to drug harms one would need to factor in the average mg in a unit of substance (joint, cup of coffee, pill) and then factor in how many of these one would have to take.

    Example for weed with the above Warlock (30%) assuming 3g per joint, you'd have to smoke 95 joints to reach LD50.

    For coffee you'd have to drink (source) 888oz (26L) of coffee.

    Water:~[FONT=verdana,][SIZE=-1]TOXICITY DATA REC-WMN LDLO:180 GM/KG/28
    LDLO (Lethal Dose, Low): 3.8 gallons (14L) for 80kg woman.

    So you would die from water toxicity before you'd die from caffeine overdose from a coffee.

    For heroin, I'm sorry but I am naive and don't know much about that. So I won't comment.

    [/SIZE][/FONT]Clearly the therapeutic index is useful for pharmacokinetic reasons but for drugs of abuse claiming Heroin is safer than caffeine is absurd, but that is the logical conclusion from using the therapeutic index unless, of course, i have made a mathematical error.

    A harm index factoring the mg taken in a normal dose (joint, cup, pill) verses the LD50 would be significantly more helpful in attempting to rationalise drug harms than a therapeutic index on its own.

    Either way marijuana is impossible to overdose on (and die) your brain and consciousness would be expanded beyond the bounds of space and time before you would have a chance of dying from THC overdose.
  12. nate81
    the LD50 wasn't the point of the article. The writer clearly meant to cast cannabis use in the same light with deviant behaviour. AND the writer was clearly upset about cannabis use and cannabis users. This article is emotional for a reason, maybe someone has a vendetta? Who doesn't know a mommy out there who hunts drug users to save her precious darling children? For some people, staying sober is an emotional decision based on fear.

    Every arguement in the article is a house of cards. In articles like this one (and there are many), the arguements are repeated over and over again. Same old song and dance.

    "In the Netherlands, decriminalization was accompanied by large increases in the numbers of users. Just between 1984 and 1992, student increases in the use of marijuana was 250%. Interesting, he also found out that young people who use marijuana are 85x more likely to begin using cocaine than teens who never tried ‘pot’. Mexican President Vincente Fox reversed his decision to decriminalize marijuana as can be seen in"

    This paragraph stood out to me because it strings three completely unrelated bits of information as though they are directly related. Read it carefully, read it from the perspective of a mommy. Doesn't it sound like proof that decriminalization leads to a huge increase in cannabis users, which immediately leads to a huge increase in cocaine users, which the Mexican president appears to regret?

    Kevin Roeten, you are good at what you do. Too bad you're on the fascists team.

    Mommies won't even mind that the guy never even finished that last sentence. They're just grateful someone's looking out for Johnny and Peggy Sue.

    Check out the last line.....The day I turn to Kevin Roeten for advice on anything is the day I walk out of america for a new home. HE INSISTS WE NEED HIS PERMISSION!!!!

    Damn fascists.

    Let us find ignorance where it lives and flush it out with the bird dog of truth. Or something like that.
  13. NeuroChi
    Your highlighted an excellent part of this article that shows just how gullible the public is, and evaluated it astutely, though let me disseminate it a little further. ;)

    True. But use does not correlate to abuse. There's nothing wrong with using drugs (besides the fact that they are illegal) if it is done in a positive and responsible manner.
    A common logical fallacy, called post hoc ergo propter hoc, where it is assumed that because one thing followed another it directly leads to the other.

    It's also probably true too, maybe 80% of cocaine users have used marijuana, but what about the 95% of marijuana users that never move on to cocaine? Interesting when you put it that way eh.
  14. enquirewithin
    How any cocaine users have used alcohol; or smoked cigarettes? The gateway argument is old and discredited.
  15. Spucky
    AW: Marijuana Much Riskier Than Alcohol

    A Government can`t look into personal Freedom,
    the individual decision to smoke Weed mean nothing for/ to them.
    It`s not important or Relevant!

    They have to think big and in great Numbers ,
    Statistics are always in big Numbers.

    If 10% of all schizophrenic Attacks are reasoned because of Weed
    i can understand their concern and fear!

    I am not happy with that but i can understand them!
  16. Crazy Insane Sanity
    It's absolutely ridiculous to attribute the development of schizophrenia to smoking weed. This is a ridiculous faulty syllogism. It's like saying that because LSD triggers psychotic breaks in schizophrenics, that it causes the schizophrenia.

    If you can show me statistics that demonstrates the number of pot smokers who develop schizophrenia is statistically more significant than the number of schizophrenics in the general population, then I'd say their fear can be justified...but at the moment, their fear is based off of faulty logic, and is therefore irrelevant. It's possible for, say 10% of schizophrenic breaks to be attributed to marijuana, but still have only 1% of the population afflicted by this disorder. All this tells us is that mentally unstable individuals shouldn't do surprise there, but they often tend to self-medicate anyway, which just further throws off the statistics.

    There are just too many confounding variables that aren't being taken into account here...
  17. Spucky
    AW: Re: Marijuana Much Riskier Than Alcohol

    There is a misunderstanding, none of this Study`s say that THC is the Reason why People "get" this disease, the study`s say that THC is a major reason why this disease "break through"!

    A good part of the population have this predisposition but never get a break trough,
    THC is a trigger of it!

    And as younger the consumers are as higher is the risk!

    More Evidence of Marijuana-Psychosis Link

    Marijuana use at a young age significantly increased the risk of psychosis in young adulthood, Australian investigators reported.

    Young adults who reported a longer duration since first exposure to marijuana had a two- to fourfold greater prevalence of three different psychosis-related outcomes, John McGrath, MD, PhD, of the Queensland Center for Mental Health Research in Wacol, and colleagues concluded in an article published online in Archives of General Psychiatry.

    A similar association was observed in a subset of sibling pairs.

    "Apart from the implications for policymakers and health planners, we hope our findings will encourage further clinical and animal model-based research to unravel the mechanisms linking cannabis use and psychosis," the researchers concluded.

    Several prospective-cohort studies have demonstrated an association between early marijuana use and an increased risk of psychosis. On the basis of such studies, reviews of the issue have generally concluded that early use of marijuana, or cannabis, is a modifiable risk factor for psychosis-related outcomes, the authors wrote.

    However, some concern has persisted about potential methodologic biases and unmeasured confounders in the cohort studies. In an effort to address the concern, McGrath and colleagues examined the association between cannabis use and psychosis in 3,800 participants in a long-term evaluation of pregnancy and outcomes. In contrast to prior cohort studies, the authors incorporated a subset analysis involving 228 sibling pairs.

    "If a significant association between cannabis use and psychosis-related outcomes was not detected in sibling pairs, it would seriously weaken the argument that cannabis use was a risk-modifying factor for psychosis-related outcomes," they wrote.
    Participants were born between 1981 and 1984 at a single hospital in Brisbane. Mothers and their offspring were followed up at five, 14, and 21 years after birth. At the 21-year follow-up, McGrath and colleagues retrospectively assessed cannabis use among the offspring, whose age averaged 20 and ranged from 18 to 23.

    Cannabis use was assessed by means of the young adults' responses to two questions: In the last month, how often did you use cannabis, marijuana, pot, etc.? At what age did you first use cannabis?
    Possible responses to the first question were never, every day, every few days, once or so, and not in the past month.
    Investigators separated the cohort into four groups on the basis of self-reported cannabis use. One group included never-users, and the remaining three groups were categorized by duration since first use of cannabis: three years or less, four to five years, six years or more.
    Investigators compared participants' history of cannabis use with three psychosis-related outcomes: nonaffective psychosis, hallucinations (assessed by the Computerized International Diagnostic Interview), and the Peters et al Delusions Inventory (PDI) score (Schizophr Bull 2004; 30: 1005-1022).

    The authors found that 65 participants met criteria for a diagnosis of nonaffective psychosis, and 233 reported at least one hallucination-related incident. The PDI has a score range of 0-21, and participants were grouped into PDI quartiles representing scores of ≤2, 3 or 4, 5 to 7, and ≥8.

    The authors analyzed the results by means of two statistical models, one adjusted for participant sex and age at testing and the other adjusted for sex, age at testing, presence of hallucinations at the 14-year follow-up, and parental history of mental illness.
    Using never-users as the reference, the odds ratio for nonaffective psychosis increased from 1.5 to 2.1 or 2.2 in the two models as duration of first cannabis use increased. The odds for hallucinations increased from 1.4 to 2.5 and 1.5 to 2.8.
    Comparing the lowest and highest quartiles of PDI scores, the authors found that the odds of a higher score increased from 1.6 to 4.0 or 4.3 as duration since first cannabis use increased.

    Associations for all three psychosis-related outcomes were statistically significant in both models (P=0.001 to P<0.001).
    The sibling analysis was limited to the PDI scores. For each pair, the authors calculated difference scores for duration since first cannabis use and PDI total score. The association between time since first cannabis use and PDI score remained statistically significant in the sibling subset analysis.

    Limitations of the study included: retrospective self-reporting of time since first cannabis use, lack of data on cumulative exposure to cannabis, no clinical validation of nonaffective psychosis diagnosis and lack of use of the instrument at the 14-year follow-up, and loss of participants at the 21-year mark with significant differences in the group lost to follow-up compared with those retained.

    By Charles Bankhead, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
    Published: February 27, 2010


  18. chillinwill
  19. rawbeer
    Okay we should all know this but I'll say it again:

    Correlation does not equal causation.

    This has been discussed in other threads - there are a lot of reasons why a correlation would appear between psychosis and pot. Like people prone to psychosis are prone to emotional issues and people with emotional issues self-medicate with pot.

    Marriage, children, military service - these can be 'triggers' for psychosis too. Anything can. Psychotics smoke way more tobacco than the general population - do cigarettes therefore cause psychosis. No. Psychotics like to smoke, again, as self-medication.

    John McGrath himself stated, in relation to this study, that the link is much more complex (I've seen several articles on this same study, some more sensationalist than others). He certainly knows that correlation doesn't mean causation. But sensationalist reporters don't quote him on that and misrepresent his study.
  20. enquirewithin
    In another thread, it was mentioned that a large percentage of people who have mental health problems read online forums, so does that mean that online forums cause mental health problems? :(
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