D.A.R.E. Thinks Marijuana Can Kill


A recent post on D.A.R.E.’s website claimed that edible marijuana was responsible for the deaths of nine people in Colorado and another twelve people at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California earlier this year. While the headline blames marijuana directly for the deaths of these people, it isn’t until one delves into the article that they discover the same type of propaganda that has been used against marijuana proponents for years.  From the headline alone, it looks like a great article if you’re anti-legalization — the problem is that the article was satire.

That didn’t stop one of the most prominent anti-legalization organizations in the country from spreading the lie that marijuana can kill, however.  This blatant fiction has again and again been parroted all over the country by groups opposed to legalization of cannabis, regardless of the fact that marijuana has never killed anyone, ever.

But, since we seem to be living in an age where people can pick and choose which facts they believe, I’d like to take this time to provide you with the hard scientific facts about marijuana overdose — whether or not you choose to accept them is your choice.

Let’s take a look at median lethal dosage.

From Wikipedia:

In toxicology, the median lethal dose, LD50 (abbreviation for “lethal dose, 50%”), LC50 (lethal concentration, 50%) or LCt50 (lethal concentration and time) of a toxin, radiation, or pathogen is the dose required to kill half the members of a tested population after a specified test duration. LD50 figures are frequently used as a general indicator of a substance’s acute toxicity. A lower LD50 is indicative of increased toxicity.

In a 1988 DEA brief, Judge Francis Young did the math regarding marijuana’s LD50, and determined that

“It is estimated that marijuana’s [median lethal dosage] is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. [National Institute on Drug Abuse]-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity.

That’s right, 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response.  It is physically impossible to consume that much marijuana, period. In fact, in the same DEA Brief, Judge Francis Young found that

“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.”

When Dr. Ron Schwerzler mentioned five infant deaths in Colorado as a result of edibles at last years “Great Cannabis Debate” for Measure 91 in Oregon, the crowd shouted back “lies” and “source.”

The next time you read or hear about deaths as a result of marijuana use – take a cue from that audience – call out those responsible on their lie.

Carl Wellstone

Carl Wellstone is a writer, blogger and civil libertarian.