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How Many People Have Died From Weed?
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How Many People Have Died From Weed?
2.5 (50.9%) 222 votes

How Many People Have Died From Weed?

How Many People Have Died From Weed? 2018-12-11T18:07:59+00:00

“Weed” is a common slang term for marijuana and other forms of cannabis. Anyone who consumes too much of this drug can potentially experience an overdose. The toxic reactions produced by marijuana/cannabis are not generally fatal.

However, this does not mean people don’t die from weed-related causes. The consumption of marijuana may significantly increase risks for involvement in a fatal or nonfatal motor vehicle accident.

Marijuana Use in the U.S.

By a wide margin, marijuana[i] is America’s most commonly consumed illicit/illegal drug. In 2017, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the most recent available figures on use of the drug. As of the end of 2016, roughly 24 million U.S. inhabitants over the age of 11 qualified as marijuana users. Adults over the age of 25 make up the largest group of users, followed by younger adults age 18 to 25. SAMHSA figures show that roughly 1.6 million younger teenagers and preteens also consume the drug.

Marijuana Overdose

Like alcohol, and a broad range of drugs and medications, marijuana/cannabis can trigger significant toxic reactions in the human body. The term typically used to describe these reactions is overdose (or alcohol poisoning in the case of alcohol). Some forms of substance use overdose are well-known for their potential to produce life-threatening or fatal outcomes. Prominent examples include:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Heroin overdose
  • Opioid medication overdose
  • Cocaine overdose
  • Benzodiazepine (tranquilizer) overdose
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Most people who overdose on marijuana/cannabis run no risk of dying from the toxic changes in their normal body function.[ii] However, anyone who consumes excessive amounts of the drug can experience serious, potentially dangerous changes in their mental or physical well-being. On the mental health side, potential consequences of an overdose include:

  • Psychosis (hallucinations and delusional thinking) or paranoid psychosis
  • Intense anxiety and outright panic attacks

Even in moderate amounts that don’t lead to overdose, marijuana can lead to a significantly reduced ability to think clearly, make logical decisions or avoid dangerous situations. In addition, people under the influence of the drug can experience a substantial drop in the normal ability to control and coordinate body movements.

Marijuana Overdose Fatalities

Despite the low overall chances of dying from a weed overdose, some fatalities do occur. In 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a book-length examination of the health risks associated with various forms of cannabis. This examination included an in-depth review of the risks for fatal and nonfatal overdoses[iii].

The authors the National Academies review note that several children have stopped breathing and gone into comas after consuming cannabis intended for adult use. In addition, they note that the death of at least one teenager is partly attributable to ingestion of an edible cannabis product. Three factors apparently make the odds of dying from an overdose more likely than before:

  • Widespread, increased access to marijuana/cannabis
  • A rise in the types of cannabis products available for consumption
  • A general rise in the THC content of marijuana/cannabis in the last 20-plus years

Marijuana and Motor Vehicle Accidents

Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die in motor vehicle accidents. In addition, over two million people sustain nonfatal, accident-related injuries. Substance use often acts as a contributing factor in car, truck, SUV and motorcycle wrecks. Increasingly, one of the contributing substances is marijuana or some other form of cannabis.

Anyone who consumes moderate amounts of marijuana can experience a decline in several of the core skills required for safe driving. The affected skills include:

  • Awareness of potentially hazardous situations involving pedestrians or other vehicles
  • Adequate reaction time to predictable changes in road conditions
  • The reliable ability to follow vehicles at a safe distance

Three separate studies conducted in the last decade show that people with THC in their systems cause fatal accidents and/or die in fatal accidents 2x more often than people without any drugs or alcohol in their systems. However, for several reasons, it’s difficult to decide exactly what role marijuana/cannabis plays in these deaths.

First, the figures used to calculate marijuana-related motor vehicle deaths don’t specify how much THC drivers had in their systems. Some drivers may have been actively “high,” while others may not have consumed the drug for hours or days. In addition, people with THC in their systems are sometimes also under the influence of alcohol or other substances. In the aftermath of a deadly accident, no one can say for sure which substance(s) actually contributed to the fatal results. Just as importantly, investigators who find evidence of alcohol intoxication may never even consider marijuana/cannabis as a contributing factor[iv].

For these and other reasons, no one really knows how many people die in motor vehicle accidents caused by marijuana use. However, current evidence clearly shows that people who use the drug increase their chances of getting into serious wrecks.

It’s worth noting that alcohol consumption can substantially increase the risk of driving under the influence of marijuana. In fact, when drinking, people who consume even small amounts of the drug can experience an unusually rapid decline in the ability to drive.

Marijuana Addiction

Despite its growing reputation as a socially acceptable substance, marijuana is an addictive drug. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association has established a specific diagnosis — cannabis use disorder (or marijuana use disorder[v]) — for people dealing with symptoms of addiction and/or non-addicted abuse. In 2016, roughly four million Americans over the age of 11 qualified for this diagnosis.

If you or your loved one is struggling with problems related to the use of marijuana or any other form of cannabis, Transformations Treatment Center can help. Our staff of caring, experienced professionals is equipped to treat all forms of cannabis use disorder. In addition to helping you establish initial sobriety, we help you learn new ways of living that contribute to an enduring drug-free lifestyle after completion of our addiction treatment program.

Call us for a confidential discussion with one of our friendly, helpful treatment specialists.

[i] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States – Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.htm#opioid1

[ii] National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teachers: Drug Facts Chat Day – Marijuana
https://teens.drugabuse.gov/national-drug-alcohol-facts-week/drug-facts-chat-day-marijuana

[iii] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine: The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids – The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research: Chapter 9 – Injury and Death
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425742/

[iv] National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drugged Driving
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving

[v] National Institute on Drug Abuse: Is Marijuana Addictive?
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive

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 Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Jawad Daud, MD

How Many People Have Died From Weed?
2.5 (50.9%) 222 votes

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How Many People Have Died From Weed?
2.5 (50.9%) 222 votes