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Anyone who knows anything knows marijuana is far safer than other recreational drugs. Now a new study proves it’s even safer than we knew.

Rolling Marijuana JointThe report, published in February in the Journal of Scientific Reports, found not only that weed is safer than previously understood, but that alcohol is even more dangerous than public health experts had believed.

Researchers examined several recreational drugs to determine which had the highest risk of causing death. Alcohol, they found, is the deadliest drug, while heroin and cocaine are second and third, respectively.

Weed is 114 times safer than booze

Tobacco was fourth, followed by ecstasy and meth. Marijuana held last place by a very wide margin. Weed, according to the study, is fully 114 times safer than booze. That’s substantially safer than previous studies have indicated.

Not only did cannabis have the highest lethal dose of any recreational chemical, it also causes the fewest deaths: zero at last count. Alcohol, by contrast, kills roughly 88,000 Americans each year. Heroin, meanwhile, kills about 4,000. Tobacco is responsible for nearly 500,000 fatalities each year, though it’s also much more widely used than other drugs.

Weed was the only one of these drugs with a low mortality rate; even ecstasy has a much higher risk of death or injury.

The safest recreational drug available

Previous studies have shown that marijuana is much safer than alcohol and other drugs, and this report reinforces those findings. But it also demonstrates that pot is far and away the safest recreational drug available.

Weed isn’t just safer. Many users smoke up instead of drinking, and that means less violence, fewer health problems, and fewer deaths on the roads. Driving while stoned is twice as dangerous as driving sober, while drunk driving is 13 times as dangerous.

The researchers behind the new study said their conclusions show that legal controls on drugs are often arbitrary and “lack a scientific basis.” The Controlled Substances Act, the 1970 law that classified drugs according to their dangers and medical uses, doesn’t apply to booze or nicotine.

DrugsIndeed, cannabis is ranked higher on the controlled substances list than cocaine and methamphetamine, meaning Congress considered it more dangerous than either of those drugs. There is simply no science that has ever backed this claim.

Given how much deadlier alcohol and cigarettes are than other drugs, the scientists recommended “risk management prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs.”

They also said they support reforms that apply “a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach.” Politicians, they said, should focus on the real harms caused by liquor and smoking rather than targeting weed as a hazardous chemical.

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About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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