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Dope Saves Lives

A study just published in the Internal Medicine Journal of the American Medical Association finds that states that have legalized medical marijuana have 25% fewer deaths caused by overdoses of prescription drugs. The reduction in deaths occurred directly following the legalization of medical marijuana.

According to the lead author of the study: “We think that people with chronic pain may be choosing to treat their pain with marijuana rather than with prescription painkillers, in states where this is legal.”

Other studies have had similar results. This is probably caused by the fact that the occurrence of addiction is significantly lower with medical marijuana than with prescription painkillers, overdose is virtually unheard of, and there has never been a medically documented case of death from smoking marijuana.

This is just one more example the insanity of the years of classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which does not allow any medical use. As marijuana was originally made illegal back when it was a popular drug with Blacks and Mexicans, I can only surmise that this was caused by pure, unadulterated racism. Even today, blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites, even though both groups use the drug at similar rates.



  1. PatriotSGT wrote:

    As marijuana was originally so classified back when it was a popular drug with blacks

    Really? That’s too much of a stretch IK. Marijuana was much more popular and affordable among whites in 1970. It would be more appropriate to say it was an attempt by the establishment to punish all those hippies and war protesters then to target blacks. It was more an attempt to criminalize what was thought to be inappropriate behavior.

    see this link to the CSA

    Raymond Shafer (a moderate republican -yes they existed at one time) had this to say at that time:
    The criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Marijuana has been illegal in the US for much longer than that, becoming illegal in every state by the early 1930s. See

    The most racist part of the campaign against marijuana started just after that, when Harry Anslinger became the commissioner of the newly formed Bureau of Narcotics. See

    Here are some choice quotes:

    “Colored students at the Univ. of Minn. partying with (white) female students, smoking [marijuana] and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution. Result: pregnancy.”

    “Two Negros took a girl fourteen years old and kept her for two days under the influence of hemp. Upon recovery she was found to be suffering from syphilis.”

    Anslinger also campaigned against Jazz music.

    But I did leave something out — marijuana was also popular with Mexicans coming into the US, so it wasn’t just racism against blacks.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink
  3. PatriotSGT wrote:

    OK. Anslinger said those things in what, the 1935 time frame, give or take 2 years? That was 70 years after the end of the civil war and it’s been 75 years since he said that. I don’t see the relevance. Additionally, since it was already outlawed by many states (and other countries too) attributing those remarks to the original actions does not follow.

    However, it wasn’t classified as a schedule 1 drug until the CSA included it as such. I won’t disagree that many laws were specifically designed to oppress minority’s including black (Jim Crow laws anyone), but it’s addition to the CSA as a S1 substance labeled it as having no medical use even though it had already been used medically. Your post was on the study that was recently published that dealt with the medical issues not the origins of then your inclusion of that does not follow.

    If we want to point to any laws that ware on the books 100+ years ago into any modern discussion then holy cow, we’ll be so off the mark as to completely forget the point.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  4. Ralph wrote:

    Patriotsgt – the link between racism/classicism and drug laws (including Prohibition) apparently goes back a long way. Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, provides a little history lesson in this 5 min clip. It’s hard to argue against it.

    IK – Nice post, as usual, but you may want to revise your third paragraph a bit to more accurately reflect the fact that there has never been a medically documented case of death from a marijuana overdose.

    Addiction to marijuana? Psychologically perhaps, like many other compulsions (gambling, binge eating, vidiot games, porn, etc.). Yes, the dopaminergic system is involved and may be physically altered to a point by chronic long term use. But then, so may be chronic skydiving (to use a “high” analogy). If measured by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, however (including up to death with alcohol and opiates), then marijuana has to be a Schedule 4 drug at most, like Lunesta or Valium, and even that may be a stretch.

    Placing pot into a Schedule 1 class (along with heroin and cocaine) is worse than a bad joke, considering tobacco and alcohol are freely available, have virtually no medicinal value and have killed more people than all the wars throughout history. It has stifled medical research, created a huge prison population of (mostly minority) non-violent offenders and, in turn, a violent black market. The greatest danger to pot has always been getting busted for it.

    The War on Drugs is an oxymoron. Wars end. This one has become institutionalized.
    Maybe it’s time to try education over prohibition.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink
  5. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    Good video link Ralph, Thanks.

    I enjoy hearing different viewpoints and broadening my data collection. That’s why I come to PI.

    Perhaps what is needed is constitutionally mandated expiration date on all laws and requirement that they be re-evaluated and re-argued in public debate say every 40-50 years. There are many archaic laws still on the books in every state and in the federal code as well.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink
  6. Michael wrote:

    Regarding the Controlled Substances Act, you have to consider the history. While there were state laws banning marijuana in the 1930s, that was not sufficient for what the southwestern states really wanted: deportation. You cannot deport someone for violating a state or local law. But if it’s a federal law, then you can kick them out. That was the rationale that led to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which was the first federal ban.

    In the 1960s, Timothy Leary challenged the ban because it was a catch-22: The Act didn’t actually make it illegal to possess marijuana. Ignoring the legal jargon, you basically just had to pay a tax on it and get a form from the IRS that says you paid the tax and are authorized to possess. But in order to get the form, you must provide documentation that you already possess the marijuana…which means you acquired it illegally since you didn’t have the form yet. Clever, huh? Well, the SCOTUS didn’t think so, and they threw out his conviction, which essentially gutted the 1937 Act in 1969.

    The Controlled Substances Act was hastily written and passed as a direct response to Leary v. United States. There wasn’t any reasoned debate over whether or not the policy made sense. It was simply a reflection that marijuana had been illegal in a de facto manner for so long that Congress couldn’t imagine what would happen if that status changed. It was simply a knee-jerk reaction to maintain the status quo, which just happened to have been established a long time ago for racist purposes.

    So the Controlled Substances Act wasn’t about racism. It was just about sheer laziness and fear of change.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 11:22 pm | Permalink
  7. Dan wrote:

    It is my understanding that pot is illegal because someone invented an inexpensive way to separate the fibre- used in cloth-rope- etc. and the pulp used to make paper. The story goes that DuPont and Mellon both heavy vested in synthetic fibre and W.R. Hurst who held vast lumber/paper interests saw this as a threat to their wealth and pushed for the ban.
    Whatever the reason it’s nothing more then another stupid example of government over-reach that has cost the nation $billions for no good reason and gave organized crime another source of income after probation ending.

    Friday, September 5, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink