Reefer Madness at the NY Times

Jul 18, 2008

potency, THC

An editorial in the July 18 New York Times worries about rising drug overdose deaths among young people, but misleadingly brings marijuana into the picture, for no good reason. 

While the Times is right to raise alarm over rising drug overdose deaths among youth, references to marijuana in that context are both puzzling and misleading.

Marijuana has never caused a medically documented fatal overdose. Because THC does not suppress vital functions such as breathing, the consensus among researchers is that it is literally impossible to fatally overdose by smoking marijuana. So why does the Times even bring up marijuana in the context of overdose deaths?

The editorial sounds the alarm over increased marijuana potency, but government scare stories about potency are red herrings. There is no evidence that higher-THC marijuana is more addictive or in any way more dangerous. There is, however, considerable evidence that when potency increases, marijuana users smoke less, just as drinkers drink less vodka than they would beer -- thereby minimizing their risk of bronchitis or other lung issues related to smoking.