CANNAHEALTH The Opioid Epidemic - Page 26


Can You Overdose on Medical Marijuana?

As a Boston medical marijuana doctor, patients sometimes ask me whether it is possible to fatally overdose on medical cannabis. I can assure you with absolute confidence that you cannot accidentally kill yourself by using too much cannabis. However, because cannabis temporarily impairs certain functions, some activities can be very dangerous while you are using your medicine. Marijuana itself cannot harm you if you overdose – but it can create lethal safety hazards if care is not taken.

Drug overdose deaths are becoming more common in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%.”

Most of these deaths are caused by opioids, a class of painkiller drug that includes morphine, OxyContin (oxycodone), Percocet (another drug containing oxycodone), and Vicodin (hydrocodone). Ironically, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has assigned all four of these substances lower “Schedule” numbers than marijuana, which shares a Schedule I designation with heroin, despite the fact that marijuana has never been directly responsible for a fatality.

In fact, it is logistically impossible to

fatally overdose on marijuana, because the lethal dose of marijuana is approximately 1,500 pounds. You heard that correctly: not 1,500 grams, 1,500 pounds. That was the figure Judge Francis Young calculated in 1988 when he issued his marijuana rescheduling ruling, which included the following statement: