Last updated on: 5/30/2008 | Author:

Is Medical Marijuana More Dangerous Than Legal Drugs?

PRO (yes)


Barry Dworkin, MD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa, wrote Sep. 9, 2003 in the Ottawa Citizen:

“There are too many unknown variables and known serious consequences that increase the risk of patient harm contravening the ‘do no harm’ tenet of medical care…

There is a safer drug alternative for some patients that mimics THC’s effects…

Marijuana’s legislated use as a prescription drug circumvents standard drug safety protocols and is not the standard of care. There is a safer drug alternative for some patients that mimics THC’s effects…

I and many other physicians choose not to prescribe marijuana for long-term chronic illness based upon this evidence. I cannot prescribe a medication that has the potential over years of use to cause more known harm and health complications in addition to the patient’s original condition.”

Sep. 9, 2003


Eric Voth, MD, Chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy, wrote in a Dec. 3, 2001 email to

“Marijuana is about comparable to tobacco in its effects and risks but it is intoxicating so the harmful effects are mixed.

It is also not smoked the same way that tobacco is, so not quite the same respiratory risks and the science suggests slightly different effects than tobacco.

It does have comparable effects on driving skills to alcohol, but does not have the adverse effects on liver, etc. that alcohol does. In that regard, alcohol may be more physically harmful.

The addictive effects and potential is comparable to alcohol. Marijuana is far more dangerous than compazine, tigan, metaclopramide, zofran, kytril [legal anti-emetics] to name a few.”

Dec. 3, 2001


Drug Watch International stated in its online position statement on medical marijuana, last updated on May 17, 2001:

“There is no scientific evidence that marijuana, which contains over 450 chemicals, many with harmful effects, is safe or effective for any medical condition. Synthetic THC, dronabinol, has been approved by the FDA for limited use as an anti-emetic agent for chemotherapy patients who fail to respond to other drugs, and as an appetite stimulant in low dosages for patients with AIDS wasting syndrome. This pharmaceutical is available by prescription (Marinol) and differs from crude marijuana in that it is a single, pure substance in stable, quantified dose.”

May 17, 2001


The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states on its website article “Medical Marijuana: The Facts,” (accessed May 9, 2005):

Since the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, any drug that is marketed in the United States must undergo rigorous scientific testing. The approval process mandated by this act ensures that claims of safety and therapeutic value are supported by clinical evidence and keeps unsafe, ineffective and dangerous drugs off the market…

Medical marijuana already exists. It’s called Marinol. A pharmaceutical product, Marinol, is widely available through prescription.”

May 9, 2005

CON (no)


Barack Obama, JD, 44th President of the United States, stated the following in an article by David Remnick dated Jan. 27, 2014, titled “Going the Distance,” and published in the New Yorker:

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Jan. 27, 2014


Mollie Fry, MD, told in an Apr. 7, 2006 interview:

“I took an oath to do no harm. If a doctor is willing to give you a prescription for a drug that is addictive or could kill you, then why should you not be able to choose a non-toxic drug like marijuana?”

Apr. 7, 2006


Joycelyn Elders, MD, former U.S. Surgeon General, wrote the following in a Dec. 14, 2002 editorial published in The Globe and Mail :

“[T]obacco, through its direct physical effects, kills many thousands of people every year. So does alcohol. And it is easy to fatally overdose on alcohol, just as you can fatally overdose on prescription drugs, or even over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin or acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol).

I don’t believe that anyone has ever died from a marijuana overdose.”

Dec. 14, 2002


Ethan Russo, MD, Senior Medical Advisor at the Cannabinoid Research Institute, wrote in a Dec. 2, 2001 email to

“In her review of cannabis and addiction (1997), Mathre found a low risk. She cited a New York Times article [Aug. 2, 1994, p.C3] in which Jack Henningfield of NIDA and Neal Benowitz of UCSF rated addictive symptoms of cannabis vs. other commonly used drugs including heroin, alcohol and cocaine. Overall, to summarize, she said [p. 179] ‘Marijuana was ranked lowest for withdrawal symptoms, tolerance and dependence (addiction) potential; it ranked close to caffeine in the degree of reinforcement and higher than caffeine and nicotine only in the degree of intoxication.’

Even in cases of high daily intake, such as the 94-day cannabis study (Cohen 1976), any withdrawal symptoms on its sudden cessation were transient and mild.

All four of the Missoula Chronic Use study patients occasionally found themselves without cannabis medicine. None have ever experienced any withdrawal symptoms, but rather, merely an increase in symptoms that cannabis treated for them.”

Dec. 2, 2001


Leslie Iversen, PhD, Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Oxford, wrote in his Oct. 2000 book The Science of Marijuana:

“Cannabis is a safer drug than aspirin and can be used long-term without serious side effects.”

Oct. 2000


Francis L. Young, DEA Administrative Law Judge, stated in his Sep. 6, 1988 court ruling that marijuana should be rescheduled to allow prescriptions:

“A commonly used over-the-counter product like aspirin has a therapeutic ratio of around 1:20. Two aspirins are the recommended dose for adult patients. Twenty times this dose, forty aspirins, may cause a lethal reaction in some patients and will almost certainly cause gross injury to the digestive system… By contrast, marijuana’s therapeutic ratio… is impossible to quantify because it is so high.”

Sep. 6, 1988