Is Cannabis Dangerous?

With Canada’s legalization of cannabis, all kinds of people have been exposed to new stores, messaging and an apparent increase in use as what used to be taboo is now very much in the mainstream.

For years, Canadians have been able to access cannabis for their medical needs, but were unable to purchase recreationally. Legalization has rekindled conversations about its fit in our society, primarily within the context of safety and lifestyle fit. Two very common conversations revolve around cannabis versus alcohol usage and cannabis versus prescription medications safety.

With an ever-growing amount of education surrounding the long-term effects of cannabis products, the facts remain consistently in favour of cannabis being a lot less deadly than commonly accepted alternatives.

In 2015, there were 5,082 alcohol-attributable deaths in Canada, according to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation cited by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI),and in a 2017 report released by CIHI, alcohol poisoning, alcohol withdrawal, liver disease, chronic alcohol abuse and other conditions that are “100 per cent caused by the harmful consumption of alcohol” accounted for about 77,000 hospital admissions.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recognizes alcohol as the leading cause of injury and death in Canada, including those resulting from impaired driving and from alcohol-linked illnesses.

Prescription painkillers are also reported to kill tens of thousands of people yearly, and are responsible for contributing to a growing, national opioid epidemic.

A 2017 Globe and Mail article states:

Despite a national epidemic of opioid abuse and overdoses, prescriptions for painkillers – as well as therapies for treating dependency – have increased, new figures show.

Retail pharmacies across Canada dispensed 19 million prescriptions for opioids in 2016, up slightly from 18.9 million in 2015, according to estimates by health-data company QuintilesIMS. Prescriptions climbed six per cent over the past five years.

Overprescribing is behind the epidemic, which has worsened in recent years with the arrival of illicit fentanyl, leading to a sharp spike in overdose deaths. Canada ranks as the world’s second-biggest consumer of pharmaceutical opioids.

By comparison, deaths caused by cannabis alone, are hard to find.

Can You Overdose on Cannabis?

To overdose on THC requires consumption that’s next to impossible to achieve. Judge Francis Young once concluded, “A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of cannabis within minutes to induce a lethal response.”

However, that isn’t to say that cannabis is 100% free of risks. The truth is that while cannabis is far less lethal than alcohol and opioids, it is a product that alters the mind and should always be consumed responsibly, in amounts and potencies that are sufficient to your needs.

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