Marijuana Use Does Kill People

March 23, 2011–We publish two comments today from browsers who assert that marijuana has never killed anyone.  Many people hold this belief, but that’s what it is—a belief, not a fact.

A recent study in Denmark explains why.  Researchers studied all (20,581) people who received treatment for an illicit substance use disorder in Denmark over a ten-year period (January 1, 1996 to December 31, 2006).

When people entered treatment both their primary and secondary drugs of abuse were recorded.  The study found that “a primary cannabis use disorder was associated with a five-fold increase in mortality” compared to the general population of the same age.

The researchers note that this increased mortality might be the result of a higher rate of car crashes among marijuana users, intentional or violent injuries or homicides, and other kinds of accidents or injuries associated with marijuana use.  Patients’ secondary use of other drugs could also explain some of the excess mortality among those treated for cannabis use disorder.

The study found higher mortality rates among those treated for every illicit drug disorder except MDMA (cannabis, five-fold increase; cocaine and amphetamines, six-fold increase; heroin, nine-fold increase, and other opiates, eight-fold increase).

Mikkel Arendt, Povl Munk-Jorgenson, Leo Sher, and Signe O.W. Jensen.  Mortality among individuals with cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, MDMA, and opioid use disorders: A nationwide follow-up study of Danish substance users in treatment. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 114 (2011) 134-139.

45 Comments

  • By James Rowe, June 9, 2011 @ 7:23 am

    Oh my God, the ignorance is right back in the 1930s Reefer Madness era. I will read the article but this suggests very selective quotuing at best. This is a shameful manipulation of data that denies any context (e.g. why were these people more inclined to heavy cannabis use – what was it in their environment / living circumstances that may have also contributed to increased early mortality). To reduce it to the use of cannabis anhd exclude so many other factors (although hinted at, these pale into insignificance when yu post an excised article under such a large misguided headline). One of the more horrendous pieces of pro-cunterproductive drug policies (thatr really do lead to increased drug-related mortality) that I’ve been ashamed (on behalf of the human brain) to set eyes on.

  • By James Rowe, June 9, 2011 @ 7:28 am

    As a foornote, marijuana is the Mexican name used by US prohibitionists to associate the drug with deviant, unrustworthy Mexican labourers coming over the border – the old racist stereotypes that led to damning opium and cocaine in the US (and the former in Australia). We English speakers use its English name – Cannabis. Using such terminology simply reinforces the past racist propoganda used to demonise …

  • By Jamie, June 10, 2011 @ 5:28 am

    Cannabis: Big major problems within any Aboriginal Communities in Australia. How many of our Young people end up within Juvenile Detention Centres, Leaving Families, Attempt Suicide, Being placed or forced on hard Drugs, Our Governments need to take control of Cannabis get rid of these skum bag dealers they are worse than the drugs. Our future Generation is becoming a worry for we are all sad in what is happening. Stop building Juvenile Centres, create spiritiual place for our children to heal and learn more about their culture. Peace love and respect to you all.

  • By National Families in Action, June 11, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

    To James Rowe:

    We invite you to comment after you have read the study.

    The Editors

  • By National Families in Action, June 11, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

    To James Rowe:

    Please site your source(s) for this “Footnote.”

    The Editors

  • By darkcycle, June 14, 2011 @ 2:17 am

    So. By that reasoning, if I’m killed in the subway after smoking marijuana, it was the marijuana that killed me? Perhaps if a piano falls on my head?
    You cannot change the clear and unassailable fact that cannabis in ANY DOSE is non-toxic. You can overdose on Aspirin (there are about 1000 deaths per year directly attributed to aspirin). Tylenol’s toxic dose is less than a single small bottle. You can kill yourself by eating too much table salt, but you CANNOT DIE FROM ANY ACHIEVEABLE DOSE of cannabis.
    This manipulation of facts is so transparent that the very children you claim to want to protect are going to see right through it. And they will respect you even less (if they respect you at all) for such a feeble effort to deceive them. As for grown adults with the capacity to operate a computer and navigate the Internet? Well, the responses you are getting on your site should be an indication how well you’re doing.
    Right now it is easier for your teenager to score a bag than to get beer or cigarettes. And I’d like to point out… the obstacle, in a legal regulated market, that stands in their way? It isn’t the threat of arrest or a criminal record that stops them… it is the seven eleven clerk. The man who sells these deadly, addictive substances on nearly every commercial street corner is the biggest obstacle they face. I know a little about this, I spent many years working with behavior disordered children in serious trouble. In a legal, regulated market we could implement the only policy ever devised that will make it harder for your child to buy drugs; we could demand I.D.
    If you wish to continue to sell this prohibition, I would hire some more intelligent propagandists.

  • By National Families in Action, June 14, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    To darkcycle:

    No one has died from a cigarette overdose either, but that doesn’t mean cigarettes don’t kill people. To learn how many, see our comment to anoymous at “How Many Teenagers Become Addicted to Cigarettes.”

  • By divadab, June 14, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

    @NFA – you say “No one has died from a cigarette overdose either”. This is completely false, and serves only to reveal your ignorance in seeking to mind other peoples’ business. In fact, “Sixty milligrams of nicotine (the amount in about 30-40 cigarettes [1]), has the potential to kill an adult who is not a smoker[2] if all of the nicotine were absorbed. This figure is ~120 mg in chronic cigarette smokers” (source: inchem.org).

    Cigarettes kill over 400,000 people in this country every year, according to the NHS. Cannabis? NONE! No toxic dose. It is a benign substance which only the completely dishonest, corrupt, or stupid would prohibit.

    That you people are receiving federal government subsidies to spread your lies and self-serving propaganda is sickening.

  • By Leonard Junior, June 15, 2011 @ 12:13 am

    Are you arguing that cannabis smoke is more chemically laden? The old, “it has like 300 chemicals in it ZOMG!” argument? Yeah. Cigarettes have like 600 known poisons in them, put there on purpose. It’s a bogus argument, buddy, down to the core.

    Cannabis has a cellular preservation effect that keeps healthy cells going and eliminates unhealthy ones. This is the primary way it is a cancer deterrent. Therefore, it doesn’t cause the cancers that cigarettes, with their multitudes of additive poisons, do cause. There has never been any health detriment associated with cannabis other than chronic bronchitis– and you can alleviate that by eating it.

  • By National Families in Action, June 30, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

    To divadab:

    Our point is that because no one has ever died from a THC overdose does not make marijuana safe to smoke. Few if any of the 443,000 Americans tobacco kills each year die from a nicotine overdose. What kills them is the thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke they inhale that begin damaging every organ in the body. Learn more about this in the latest Surgeon General’s report here. Scientists have determined that many of the same toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke are also found in marijuana smoke.

    Your last statement is completely incorrect. National Families in Action’s But What about the Children? campaign receives no federal funding.

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  • By Stephanie, September 27, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

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  • By help, October 24, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    What the ”
    The researchers note that this increased mortality might be the result of a higher rate of car crashes among marijuana users, intentional or violent injuries or homicides, and other kinds of accidents or injuries associated with marijuana use. Patients’ secondary use of other drugs could also explain some of the excess mortality among those treated for cannabis use disorder.”
    HA HA HA HA Lets see Higher rate of car crashes YEAH RIGHT IF GOING 2 MILE AN HOUR Helps a marijuanna user crash a car HA HA. I have never although i have heard of one person getting violent on pot but killing someone never. Accidents yep all the time i fall over cause i forget the chair is there lol.Injuries yep caught my hair on fire with the lighter LMFHO. Patients with secondary drug use could also explain some of the mortality in people YEAH PROBABLY!!!!!! You dont die on dope unless you do something stupid usually intentially commit suicide maybe but thats not directly related to dope in general dope makes you less likely to commit suicide. All this talk on chemicals and crap eat it. Or vaporise it its safer if your worried about chemicals. And if your worried about lacing grow your own WAIT ITS ILLEGAL IN MOST PLACES DAMN CANNABIS REFORM AUSTRALIA. And people with Cannabis being illegal in allot of places proper studys about it are never going to happen yes tobacco is bad and legal and we had time to research that now legalize cannabis then in 20 years workout whats the worse about it. And no its not a gateway drug Wait if cannabis is a gateway drug what is with cigarettes and alcohol i tried them first they were my gateway but i tried both at the legal age and i am fine i smoked for 10 or 15 years i spose i stopped because of the cost of it now i want Cannabis legal so it becomes cheaper. Hey i gave up alcohol by choice and tobacco so why cant i smoke some home grown or eat cookies or some butter on toast MMMMM

  • By Cherish Sirwet, January 16, 2012 @ 6:22 am

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  • By ray belcher, February 26, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

    I really feel sorry that you are this misinformed im sorry but you have the most unreasonable logic i am a part of NORML and would be glad to tell u the pluses and minuses of cannabis just do a little research because after reading this it doesnt sound like you did alot of that

  • By National Families in Action, March 1, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

    To Ray Belcher

    Your quarrel is with the researchers who conducted the study. We published a link to the abstract of the study. Ask NORML to pull the full text for you so you can read it.

  • By Jonathon Berry, March 4, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

    This is some pretty clever manipulation of statistics. Correlation is not causation. Repeat after me, 5,000 times; Correlation is not causation.

    I can link the color red with an increased chance of sexuality, but out of context, the statistics mean nothing. And of course you’re going to redundantly deflect any dissenters. You’re literally a group with a literal agenda. Which means my posting here is pointless.

    Everyone I know who smokes weed also happens to drink water and coffee and breathes oxygen. I bet there’s a 100-fold increase in one’s chance of death if he or she inhales oxygen!

    Continue to attempt to espouse your ridiculous talking points. If you want to save lives, how about you feed one of the 10,000 children who starves to death every day instead of going on some silly inquisition based on faulty statistics. But if you were intelligent enough to know that, I wouldn’t be making this post I suppose.

  • By National Families in Action, March 7, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

    To Jonathon Berry
    You seem to be “shooting the messenger.” In this post we simply report the results of a study conducted by respected scientists. We suggest you read the study itself and perhaps ask one of your teachers or professors to help you evaluate the study from a scientific point of view.

  • By tell the truth, March 11, 2012 @ 4:07 am

    http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20030918/marijuana-smoking-doesnt-kill
    check this out. Studies showing that marijuana use is not fatal.

  • By National Families in Action, March 12, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

    To tell the truth:

    We checked it out. Read the last paragraph of the article:

    “Marijuana users shouldn’t cancel their life insurance policies just yet. Sidney warns that longer-term data may indeed show that marijuana smoking eventually raises the risk of premature death. And if marijuana is legalized, long-term use may become more common. If this is the case, there certainly will be more long-term effects of marijuana use. SOURCE: Sidney, S. The British Medical Journal, Sept. 20, 2003; vol 327: pp 635-636.”

    The more recent study we summarize involves people in treatment for cannabis use disorder — the very long-term users the author of the British Medical Journal article warns about.

  • By Shelley Granger, May 18, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

    If pot were legal more of our children would be alive today, including my son who was killed by alcohol. He turned to it because pot was not legal and and you couldn’t hold a job smoking it.

    You would do alot more good by targeting, one the media who instills anger and fear into the hearts and minds of everyone alive today and two the judical system, who is sucking the life from the kids today and treating them all like second class citizens. I have raised 6 children and 5 grandchildren and I have watched some of them struggle with various issues in their lives. Marijuana is one I will take anyday as most of them will outgrow useing it later in life anyway. I did say most, not all. I have a grown son with ADDHD who has benifited greatly from the use of marijuana. My dead son had been sober for 18 months and we were thrilled to have him back. IF he had been able to buy a joint when he lost his job and was upset, instead of a pint, he wouldn’t have been posioned to death, and would have most likely gotten though it.
    I do think that to many people today are so wrapped up in saving the world they dont see the real harm they are causing. The human brian is a complex machine and no two are the same. You will never have your cookie cutter society or children, as we are all different and suffer different sorrows and joys. People today think children should have a mind like an adult and they just do not. It’s deplorable the way they are treated because people are so afraid. I was recently on a trip with my spouse and the TV in our room was on a news channel, the town we were in had arrested a 6 yr old becuase he had hit someone. The arresting officer said and I quote “He may be 6 years old today but someday he will be a teenager.” Really? Shall we just put all our children in prison as soon as they are born? That would solve the problem I’m sure.
    I grew up in a world where drugs were all legal, and guess what, there were not alot of drug addicts running around then. Even my parents and grandparents had smoked marijuana as kids. A lot of older people did. It grew wild and was free during the depression and easy to aquire. And it was legal during proabition, which by the way turned out to be not such a good idea.
    I think your group is wasting a lot of time, energy and money on a cause that would be better spent working on the real problems in the world, not the symptoms of them. Greed, poverty and fear. Maybe take some of your perfectionist ideals and beliefs, put them in an envelope and stick them in your back pockets for awhile and stop trying to shove them in everyone elses faces. Then go help some real children who need it.
    Why not spend some time and energy studying the healing properties of marijuana. Maybe even try to figure out what underlying issues are causing more people to abuse whatever it is they are abusing.
    We could all use a good dose of tolerance these days. Variety is the spice of life, and I for one would hate it if the whole world was just like me.
    These are my views on the subject, do with them what you will. Banning things has never solved anything and only made it worse.
    But in the end life itself will eventully kill you. Lets hope they don’t try to ban it anytime soon.

  • By James, June 22, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

    Red meat, sugar and fat, cars, automobiles, planes, trains and even lightning kill people every year. Or you could say engaging in these activities increases your chance of death by X%. I realize you chose to focus on marijuana for this article. However with your extreme lack of context and quite possibly incorrect studies being presented, it almost gives the article a “scare tactic” type of approach, which we have been getting since the 30′s and which is, I believe, why you have and will continue to get negative feedback on the article. I do not have enough time or room to begin to explain why marijuana shouldn’t have even been in that study to begin with…. To anyone reading this, This is not the whole truth, do your own research. Knowledge = Power, fear mongering is for the fearful.

  • By National Families in Action, June 23, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    To James

    We summarized a published, scientific study conducted by researchers in Denmark that involved more than 20,000 people over a period of ten years. We provided the citation to the study so browsers can read the original source, not just our account of it. Your quarrel is with the scientists who conducted the study, not us. Knowledge comes from science, not anecdote or opinion. We encourage you to do your own research, but if you want truth, you will need to consider your sources.

    The editors

  • By Cecilia Duran, August 28, 2012 @ 3:57 am

    It is time to legalize for this country is in economic ruin the republ
    icans and the democrats need to work to better our country as a voter and a disabled. Person cannibasis a medical breakthrough for cronic pain for a lot of people making it legal wouldn’t stop vigilance but it is a start the deaths are not cause by the marijuana but by actions of someone that couldn’t handle the affects but not by smoking it itself I have never seen anyone at anytime die fro from smoking pot and i know alot of people that smoke now pills and heroin kill this i know because i just lost my nephew to heroin this past July 2-2012 so enough on pot kills ok

  • By Jason, September 1, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

    Stingrays kill more people than Marijuana. Why hasnt someting been done about these stingrays?

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  • By Richard, September 14, 2012 @ 6:34 am

    by the same correlation = causation argument I can use stats to prove that eating breads cause higher incidence of violence . Out of inmates on death row 100% have eaten bread therefore bread causes violent behavior se how that works. Oh here is one most incarcerated serial profess being some form of Christian, therefore Christianity cause serial killers. See what slippery slope it is when you manipulate statistics or assume the correlation is causation. Before the hate starts I don’t actually think Christianity causes serial killers just making a point, to be clear.

  • By Rand0m411, September 17, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

    Prohibition is what gets people killed.

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  • By Jacob, December 31, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

    Where can I find the information of this study? Where are your cited sources?

  • By National Families in Action, January 2, 2013 @ 1:14 am

    Take a look at the end of the article.

  • By Brushtruck, January 3, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

    It is stupid to say that if cannabis had been accessible, then people wouldn’t have died from alcohol poisoning or drug overdose. And to say that suicides are also the cause of cannabis being inaccessible, is even more preposterous! When these tragedies occur, the liability doesn’t fall on drug prohibitions. That couldn’t be further from the truth! The biggest reason is because we have failed to shield our children from drug use, and even nonchalantly shrugged at it saying “nobody ever died from it”.

    And to those of you saying that people don’t die from weed just because they do something stupid when they’re high, it just goes to show how uneducated you are on the topic. What’d you do, just google “weed doesn’t kill” and post false claims that you found online? Look into actual research, at actual reputable data and you will see that even those scientists that claim marijuana is safe will add disclaimers at the end of their reports stating that long term usage has been known to cause health disorders and even death.

    Did you know that if somebody is killed by an intoxicated driver, that is classified as death by intoxication of alcohol, EVEN THOUGH THE BOOZE DIDN’T ACTUALLY KILL THEM. The actions of the person who was under the effects of alcohol killed them. So how is it not the same as a person who dies as a result of something they did while they are high?

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  • By Kraken, February 27, 2013 @ 11:37 am

    … This point of view is stupid, saying that pot smokers have more car crashs than non smokers is completely dumb. In that case, from your point of view we could say that work kills, jogging kills, etc… Because all that creates fatigue, and work creates stress.

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  • By john smith, November 18, 2013 @ 11:50 pm

    This is hilarious. Weed is not dangerous. It hasnt killed any an it never will. Prohibition of weed is killing more people than smoking weed an driving ever will, bu that doesnt mean its ok to drive high. I have smoked weed since 8th grade and in the past 10 years there hasnt been a single negative side effect. I made straight a’s is highschool and had a 3.9 gpa in collage and got a doctorate is chemistry. Tell that to the children.

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