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Forget Cannabis, The 3 Most Deadly Drugs Are Completely Legal

Forget Cannabis, The 3 Most Deadly Drugs Are Completely Legal

Regardless of where you stand on marijuana legalization, you have to admit: Marijuana is a fairly harmless drug in comparison to many other entirely legal drugs. While marijuana has 0 attributed deaths, the 3 drugs that cause the most deaths in America are all entirely legal. These 3 drugs are well known and widely available, but let’s consider their legality in terms of the numbers.

Tobacco. Easily accessible and especially deadly over the long term, 480,000 Americans died due to direct or indirect tobacco use in 2010. That’s almost a half million completely preventable deaths! Smokers, on average, have a 10 year shorter life expectancy than non-smokers. A smoking habit is also incredibly expensive. Quitting before age 40 may lessen the harmful effects later in life. Then, use the extra money to save for those additional years you’ve added on to your retirement.

Alcohol. Even without the inclusions of alcohol-related traffic accidents (which account for around 10,000 additional deaths), alcohol was involved in 25,692 deaths in 2010. Alcohol-related disease and overdose are all very real threats with this socially ubiquitous drug. Additionally, the National Highway Administration cites alcohol involvement in nearly a third of all traffic accidents. Columbia researchers found that alcohol consumption multiplies the risk of a traffic accident 13 times, whereas other drugs merely double or triple the risk. Certainly, when consumed in moderation, alcohol can boast certain health benefits. But steps need to be taken to ensure that drinking and driving remain mutually exclusive activities.

Prescription painkillers. According to data released by the CDC, there were 16,651 documented prescription painkiller overdose deaths in 2010. The real issue may be that 12 million people reported using these painkillers non-medically — either without a prescription or for the effect. As a rule of thumb, never use prescription medication without a doctor’s approval. More importantly, keep all prescription medications far out of reach of children.

These 3 drugs account for an outstanding number of unintended mortalities. Granted, the numbers may be slightly skewed. Since these drugs are legal, they are more easily attainable than illicit drugs. Regardless, they are still dangerous and widely abused. So, perhaps marijuana — a relatively safe medicinal herb that could actually help and heal many people — is not the drug we should be arguing about. Perhaps we should further tackle our society’s views towards its acceptable drugs, and try to lower the death rates associated with these incredibly deadly yet incredibly legal drugs.

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Jordyn Cormier

Jordyn is a choreographer, freelance writer, and an avid outdoors woman. Having received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance from the Boston Conservatory, she is passionate about maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul through food and fitness. A lover of adventure, Jordyn can often be found hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and making herself at home in the backcountry! Check out what else Jordyn has been up to at


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4:18AM PDT on Jun 30, 2015

Thank you

3:46PM PDT on Jun 22, 2015

I read that the late carl sagan toked for decades, I wonder if his premature passing from cancer and the pot smoking were connected?

6:36AM PST on Feb 14, 2015


11:42PM PDT on Jul 5, 2014

The government should adopt a policy of Harm Reduction by advising smokers who cannot completely give up their habit to at least switch to e-cigs that vaporize the tobacco instead of combusting it. The gov't should also require that alcohol products be fortified with vitamins and other nutrients to minimize at least some of the damage that excess consumption causes. The greatest problem regarding cannabis is the risk of arrest and the very real threat of police violence against cannabis consumers. The laws should be changed to eliminate the risk of judicial "harm."

11:20AM PDT on Jul 5, 2014

Anyone want to guess who some of the major contributors to all political campaigns and especially the locals ones in the states where they manufacturing plants and/or corporate office reside? That's why they're still legal. On the other hand, you could spend your entire life legislating stupidity and there will still be an abundance of humans who don't care what their actions are doing to them, their families or communities.

3:48AM PDT on Jul 1, 2014

I'm not at all sure that Marijuana is all that harmless. It is known that it reduces the size of the caudate nucleus in the brain which helps to evaluate memory and emotion, so that important memories are stored in preference to the less important. It is an important function and should be looked after.
One can relax and one can have great fun without drugs.

4:18PM PDT on Jun 29, 2014

Used to smoke, quit when I couldn't walk a block without getting out of breath. Do drink occasionally but only when I know I'm staying home. Got off prescription pain killers when I lost weight and didn't have sciatica anymore. But marijuana can kill. A friend of mine died when a stoned teenager smashed in the front of her car while she was on the way to work. He wasn't drunk or high on anything but marijuana. So that's at least one death attributed to marijuana. I'm sure there's more. I do appreciate the author saying the number might be skewed. Numbers do whatever you want them to do.

9:07AM PDT on Jun 29, 2014

I have never smoked anything, being a chronic asthmatic it would be a very stupid thing to do and I have never taken any illegal drugs. That doesn't necessarily mean that I think they are all bad for you, what is bad is the fact that they are illegal means that those who deal in them are also involved in criminal circles where they mix with those involved in other crimes. My view is pretty simple, legalise cannabis and allow shops to sell it, apply taxes to it (like tobacco) and instead of those using it costing society a great deal of money (in trying to stop it being sold) society would benefit from the tax revenue raised.

5:44AM PDT on Jun 29, 2014

thanks for sharing.

1:20AM PDT on Jun 27, 2014

please my bothers and sisters dont smoke or drink if you do that please take a promise by your self and flush those thing ,Recovery from addiction requires hard work, a proper attitude and learning skills to stay sober, not drinking alcohol or using other drugs. Successful drug recovery or alcohol recovery involves changing attitudes, acquiring knowledge, and developing skills to meet the many challenges of sobriety,,,,,Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight."

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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