It was just last week that some coroner from Louisiana made national news by claimingÂ that a woman died as a result of a marijuana overdose. Considering that there have never been any reports of someone croaking from cannabis, the story sparked a significant amount of outrage in the advocacy community. These folks can be an especially sensitive breed, presumably because the past several decades have been spent on a mostly fruitless crusade to get weed recognized for its medicinal benefits and made legal at the national level just like alcohol and tobacco.
But suggesting that someone actually died by smoking a little pot, well, themâ€™s fighting words, as they might say in the South. So it was no surprise really that nearly every news organization ran a version of the THC overdose story, suggesting that marijuana expertsÂ were protesting the claim. I, for one, found this rather humorous, since there really is no such thing as a cannabis expert.
Although the cannabis plant seems relatively safe (Iâ€™ve conducted decades of personal research to come to this conclusion) the world still knows very little about its efficacy as a medicine, its overall safety and whether or not there are certain circumstances in which it could lead to death.
Now, Iâ€™m not trying to say that I buy into the coronerâ€™s dead stoner claim. I certainly do not. As a man who once consumed his weight in high-powered, homemade edibles â€“ which led to a three-day stoner excursion into the darkest parts of my brain, parts that I never wish to revisit, not ever! — I can almost guarantee there is no possible way for a person to get high enough to die â€“ not on weed. But then again, I am no expert on every facet of this plant. Nobody is. Sure, we know a few things about it â€“ like, it feels great, food tastes amazing when weâ€™re stoned, and it makes all of the Pink Floyd albums sound even better — but to suggest that our knowledge of marijuana science is so vast and complete that we can simply discount the potential ills it may hold is ridiculous.
Even medical professionals, you know those people who are supposed to have a grip on all of the latest treatments and medicine, are no experts when it comes to marijuana.
In fact, a recent studyÂ published in the Journal of American Medical AssociationÂ (JAMA) finds that most doctors do not know anything about cannabis â€“ and that includes all of that CBD youâ€™ve been scarfing down.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that 85 percent of so-called medical professionals have absolutely no education or training when it comes to cannabis. This means that when discussing medical marijuana with your family doctor, chances are everything he or she tells you, good or bad, is just an opinion and not rooted in any sort of science. To that end, the study also found that close to 80 percent of physicians donâ€™t even realize that marijuana is a Schedule I substance. And check this out: Around 40 percent think that weed is a drug that has already received FDA approval. It is not. This is about as far from being an â€śexpertâ€ť as it gets.
â€śPart of the reason physicians may feel poorly trained is that many of marijuanaâ€™s health effects are not known,â€ť wroteÂ Nathaniel Morris, lead researcher and resident physician at Stanford.
This is true.
Because the federal government continues to hinder cannabis research, not even the scientific community knows enough about marijuana to call themselves experts. Sure, you might hear wild tales about how cannabis cures cancerâ€“ everyone seems to know somebody that is now cancer free because they smoked a little weed, right? But really, the best evidence we have on the subject of medical marijuana â€“ an installment from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — indicates that weed might beÂ beneficial in the treatment of chronic pain, nausea and spasms. Thatâ€™s about all of the credible science we have. Itâ€™s a far cry from being a salvationâ€™s wing to all of the Earthly health problems that so many so-called experts have asserted. Â Â
What makes the situation even more disheartening is a lot of the critical studies published about the benefits of marijuana eventually turn out to be disproved. For example, back in 2014, the University of Pennsylvania came out and said that opioid overdose deaths were on the decline in states where medical marijuana was legal. It was evidence that the cannabis advocacy community has been using to convince lawmakers that legal weed might be the trapdoor theyâ€™re looking for out of a drug problem that is claiming the lives of tens of thousands every year.
Well, that research turned out to be a load of bull.
A new studyÂ from Stanford University â€“ one based on the exact scientific methods as the one from the University of Pennsylvania â€“ finds that opioid overdose deaths are actually increasing in states with legal weed. Now, hereâ€™s the thing: researchers donâ€™t believe that marijuana is contributing to this newfound uprising in opioid-related incidents or anything â€“ thatâ€™s good, at least — but they damn sure arenâ€™t convinced that legal cannabis can save America from the dope scourge.
â€śWhat we found was that association between enacting a medical cannabis law and the rate of deaths from opioid overdose actually reversed over time,â€ť lead researcher Chelsea Shover toldÂ NBC News. â€śWhen we did the study in 2017, the association was that states that enacted a medical cannabis law actually had higher opioid overdose deaths after the laws took effect.â€ť Those states, they found, had about a 23 percent higher opioid overdose death rate than states in which medical marijuana remained illegal.â€ť
So, just like that â€“ marijuana went from being a potential solution to the opioid problem to ammunition that anti-pot warriors will most certainly use now to prevent the end of prohibition in more parts of the country. Itâ€™s the kind of situation where if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Anyone who buys into the plethora of marijuana studies that surface on an almost daily basis and uses them as fodder to further the legalization movement is just waiting to get butchered by the opposition. Itâ€™s too bad that we donâ€™t have any actual experts on the subject to level the playing field.
Sadly, it is probably best, from this point forward, to take all of the studies published on marijuana â€“ the good, bad and the ugly — with a grain of salt. Until the federal government gets serious about exploring this plant in detail and chiseling away at the many claims, the truth is there arenâ€™t going to be any experts to provide us, the nation, with definitive insights into the many allegations â€“ THC overdose deaths or otherwise. When we live in a country where not even the scientific and medical community understands the true reach of this plant, how much stock can we really put in these sources?