Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Monday, August 19, 2013

PolitiFact Florida says claim that marijuana is "less toxic" than alcohol is "Mostly True"

MpplogoThe modern US debate over marijuana law, policy and reform has so many interesting parallels to and echoes from the US experiences with alcohol and its one-time prohibition.  For this reason and others, I found especially interesting this detailed discussion at PolitiFact Florida about a recent advertisement by the Marijuana Policy Project claiming that marijuana is "less toxic" than alcohol. Here are parts of this "fact-check" discussion:

[S]ome health professionals say it’s a matter of picking your poison. "It’s like trying to compare different weapons. Both have the potential to cause harm," said Dr. Scott Teitelbaum, professor and vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and chief of the Division of Addiction Medicine, at University of Florida. "I don’t know that there’s a clear answer."

For starters, the term toxic can be vague. Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, medical director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, said toxic can be "anything that causes harm. It is possible to drink enough water to poison yourself. It’s more related to the dose than anything else."

The Marijuana Policy Project’s claim that marijuana is "less toxic" rankles some health professionals and anti-drug organizations who criticize the inference that using the drug is okay....

Our ruling

An ad from the Marijuana Policy Project claims marijuana is "less toxic" than alcohol. Our job as fact-checkers in this case is not to decide whether marijuana is good or harmful. We're focused on whether the drug in its natural form is "less toxic" than alcohol.

 

In that regard, science and statistics present a strong case:

  • Deaths or even trips to the hospital are much more likely due to alcohol;
  • Scientists could not find any documented deaths from smoking marijuana;
  • A study found the safety ratio for marijuana (the number of doses to cause death) is much greater than compared to alcohol. Put another way, marijuana is 100 times less toxic than alcohol.

Overall, we rate this claim Mostly True.

 

August 19, 2013 in Food and Drink, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (1)