A recent study found cannabis is significantly less likely to result in a fatal overdose than other types of drugs.
“The results confirm that the risk of cannabis may have been overestimated in the past,” said Dirk Lachenmeir, a professor at the Chemical and Veterinary Research Office Karlsruhe, Germany.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, compares different types of drugs, including methamphetamine, ecstasy, tobacco, cocaine and alcohol, and their comparative risk assessments using the margin of exposure approach.
The margin of exposure approach measures a substance’s ability to damage DNA and its carcinogenic effects, notes European Food Safety Authority.
Scientists for the study compared the ratio between the toxic dose of a drug and a person’s typical intake.
“At least for the endpoint of mortality, the (margin of exposure) for THC/cannabis in both individual and population-based assessments would be above safety thresholds,” Lachenmeir said.
Cannabis legislation supporters often claim opponents overstate the supposed dangers of marijuana when compared with other drugs.
"The estimated fatal dose (of THC, the primary active compound in marijuana) in humans derived from animal studies is between 15 and 70 grams,' said Wayne Hall, professor and director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland, Australia.
He believes the most heavy cannabis user could not consume that much in one day.
The study found that alcohol is the most likely drug to lead to a person dying due to overdose. The next most deadly drugs are heroin and cocaine, followed by tobacco, ecstasy and meth.
Cannabis was the only drug tested in the study that posed a low morality risk, the study showed.
“Currently, the MOE results point to risk management prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs,” the study states. “The high MOE values of cannabis, which are in a low-risk range, suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach.”