just how many people have died from a marijuana overdose?

Es­ti­mated reading time is 4 min­utes.

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 . . .”)


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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.


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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.” 



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