WHAT’S A “MARIJUANA OVERDOSE”? That rhetorical question was inspired by the headline “Here Are All The People Who Have Died From A Marijuana Overdose” to an article in today’s HuffingtonPost (September 4, 2013). It states that US Attorney General Eric Holder wouldn’t intervene as Colorado and Washington implement plans for a system of legalized marijuana:
“In a joint letter written to Holder on Friday, law enforcement organizations warned that his move would lead to more crime, violence, and even death. The police groups also make a number of additional controversial claims that marijuana use itself leads to violent behavior, suicidal thoughts and interest in harder drugs.”
Wow! Where do these cops get their dope? I never smoked nothing like what these guys is talking about!
You know, I’ve smoked a lot of grass. Oh Lord, I’ve popped a lot of pills. But I never touched nothing that my spirit could kill.
In most people’s reality—that is, people who smoke pot regularly (and I am no longer one of them, but I remember)—an “interest in harder drugs” would mean an extraordinary craving for the coldest damn beer on the planet to go along with the two-month-old bag of barbecue potato chips they found on top of the refrigerator.
And “violent behavior” would mean getting into a hissy fit—not unlike the one thrown by Bill Nighy as Billy Mack in the movie Love Actually when he repeatedly flubs the lyrics to the song he is trying to record (below)—because they can’t find a bottle opener after they found a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in the back of the same fridge.
The “suicidal thoughts” run along the lines of standing in your kitchen with a cold bottle of your favorite beer and not being able to find the bottle-opener and thinking, “Shit, man. I am just gonna DIE if I can’t get this bottle open.”
Then you remember the Swiss Army knife in your backpack in the closet and all is good with the world again as you sit down with the chips and the open bottle of cold beer and snap the headphones on and relax into ANOTHER GREEN WORLD (“And I’ll come running to tie your shoe …”)
Marijuana overdose deaths
The writer of the HuffPost piece, Nick Wing, also includes some statistics regarding the seriousness of the marijuana issue versus other issues that deserve more of our attention. The figures below are approximations from the year 2010 and cover US fatalities only:
• Deaths due to legal prescription drug overdoses: 23,000
• Deaths due to illegal drug overdoses: 15,000
• Deaths due to marijuana overdoses: 0
Yes, that’s a zero, meaning none. nada. No one. These are normal figures for the United States in recent years. This means that in the first ten years of the 21st century, approximately 230,000 Americans died from drugs that were prescribed to them by their doctors!
Another 150,000 of our fellow citizens died from drugs they purchased from a “dealer” or a “pusher.”
Not a single citizen died from a marijuana overdose.
So it goes.
Alas, many of us did not heed the brave words of this old poster, which plainly warned us of the shrewdness of the dope peddlers who would entice us into a life of marihuana addiction.
A “dealer” vs a “pusher”
Those of us old enough to have at least witnessed “the Sixties”—even if only as teenagers watching it happen all around us—there was a time when the terms “dealer” and “pusher” were NOT synonymous.
A dealer sold only “good” drugs—“head drugs”—like marijuana, hash, and the occasional psychedelic (mostly LSD).
A pusher, on the other hand, sold the hard stuff (read “addictive”), the “bad” drugs: the opiates (usually heroin) and speed (usually meth). This was so well understood that the rock group Steppenwolf even recorded a song about it. While never a hit single, it received countless spins as an LP track in 1968 on the then-new “underground” FM stations.
So, the answer to the question “just how many people have died from a marijuana overdose?” is none known nor are any likely.
HEADER IMAGE: This was supposed to be the photo at the top of this page, but it’s damn busy to read the white print of the post’s title. Plus it’s not really what the article is about. This is actually a photo of a “sculpture” made entirely of prescription pills. Many sites seem to have this image as an illustration, but I couldn’t find a credit for the artist.
For your listening, reading and learning pleasure(s), I have written an article on Steppenwolf and their first two important recordings: The Pusher Man and Born To Be Wild. This can be read at “God Damn The Pusher Man.”