Cannabis & Pharmaceuticals

Business Insider provides a list of 23 health conditions said to benefit from cannabis treatment. The International Business Times notes that prescription drugs kill some 100,000 people each year (a conservative estimate), and quotes Harvard’s Dr. Lester Grinspoon as saying, “There are no deaths from cannabis use. Anywhere. You can’t find one.” Not only does cannabis have an annual kill ratio of zero to Big Pharma’s 100,000-plus, but it also seems to be cutting into Big Pharma’s profits. NPR explains that in states where cannabis has been legalized, Medicare prescriptions for many drugs have fallen as Americans seek an alternative to pricey mainstream medicines.

And what about the issue of dependency? According to the CDC, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999 (as have sales, not surprisingly). The agency reports that from 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids (with prescription drugs as a whole killing at least 100,000 each year). The number of ODs from cannabis during that time? Zero. However, it is possible for people to develop a psychological dependence on cannabis, though it takes a lot to get there, requiring repeated daily use of high-dose THC (read about one person’s account here). Withdrawal symptoms with cannabis, however, are relatively mild, even negligible — nothing like those from alcohol or opiates.