With cannabis currently legal in some form spread out over 23 states, the amount of Americans who die from overdosing on marijuana this past year was significant: The rate of absolutely zero fatalities from a cannabis overdose remained steady from this past year, according to figures released this month by the Centers for Disease Control.

While Americans are not dying as a result of pot overdoses, the same can not be said for a variety of other substances, both legal and illicit.
A total of 17,465 people had a fatal experience from overdosing on illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine this past year, while 25,760 people died from overdosing on prescription medicines, such as painkillers and tranquilizers like Valium, according to CDC figures.

Opioid overdose levels increased sharply back in 2014 – spiking 14 percent from the previous year – the CDC described the levels as “Epidemic.” “More persons died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2014 than during any previous year on record,” the CDC documented earlier this month.

Alcohol, and, even more, accessible substance is killing Americans at a rate not seen in roughly 35 years, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal data.There are more than 30,700 Americans who died from alcohol-induced causes this past year which does not include alcohol-related deaths like drunk driving or accidents; if it did, the death toll would be more than two and a half times higher.

According to a widely cited 2006 report in American Scientist, “Alcohol is more lethal than many other commonly abused substances.” The report further puts the lethality of various substances in perspective: Drinking is a mere 10 times the normal amount of alcohol within 5 or 10 minutes can prove fatal whereas smoking or eating cannabis might require something like 1,000 times the usual amount to cause a fatal accident.

Though cannabis has yet to lead to a fatal overdose in the U.S., it does have the potential to be abused and lead to dangerous actions such as drugged driving – but taking too much will likely lead to a really bad high. Despite the changing tide in American attitudes in reference to cannabis for both therapeutic and recreational uses, legalization is still vigorously opposed by groups like the pharmaceutical lobby and police unions.

Even among 2016 presidential candidates, Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders is the only competitor from either party to support outright legalization of cannabis by removing it from the federal list of Schedule 1 drugs, which includes substances like heroin and LSD.


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