For so long, we've held the stigma that smoking marijuana equals a downward spiral towards disaster. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I drug — i.e. substances that are the "most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence."
But the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that only about 9% of users become addicted to marijuana. Cocaine, on the other hand, is far more addictive, but is listed as a Schedule II drug.
While it's true that marijuana use can lead to increased anxiety, impaired judgment, and heart palpitations, there's no definitive research that shows a high risk for abuse or addiction. Many of those symptoms wear off after several hours. No one has died from a marijuana overdose. You would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to be at risk of dying. So why is there still a taboo?
For a better perspective on this nonsense, here's a list of five things that are statistically more dangerous (and more legal) than smoking weed.
1. Prescription drug overdose
One hundred people die from drug overdoses everyday in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And drug overdose death rates have more than tripled since 1990.
2. Motor vehicle accidents
In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated a total of 33,780 deaths due to motor vehicle crashes. Nearly 3,328 of those people died because they were distracted while driving, for reasons like being on their phones.
3. Alcohol abuse
About 18 million Americans are alcoholics or have alcohol problems, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Drinking during pregnancy can have severe risks for the baby. And according to the CDC, there were 15,990 alcoholic liver disease deaths in 2010.
According to the CDC, more than one-third of American adults are obese. It can lead to a host of health risks such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and cancer — many of the leading causes of death.
5. Gun violence
The FBI estimated 8,855 deaths were caused by firearms in 2012, which included 6,371 murders caused specifically by handguns. Studies have also shown that keeping firearms in the home increases the risk of suicide and violent deaths in the home.