Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana Use

By Drew W. Edwards, M.S., and Mark S. Gold, M.D.
6 Feb 2001

Can I die from a marijuana overdose?
No. A lethal overdose of marijuana is virtually impossible; however, deaths from accidents and multiple drug use are not uncommon.

I smoked pot in the 1960s. I went to a party last weekend and took a hit off a joint and thought I was going to die. I have never been that high before -- what happened?
There may be several factors involved, but the most likely reason is the increase in the potency of today's marijuana. Today, marijuana is up to 16 times stronger than what you smoked in the 1960s. Another possibility is that the marijuana cigarette you smoked was laced with another substance, such as phencyclidine (PCP) or even heroin.

Why are many doctors against the use of marijuana as a medicine?
They generally are not against it, but doctors are interested in administering active and effective treatments. It takes scientific studies to prove that a medication is safe and effective and is better than existing treatments. Smoked marijuana should be held to standards equivalent to other medications for approval, standardization of dose, efficacy and safety. Most of the work in the area of smoked marijuana does not meet the standards for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

Physicians try to "do no harm" in the process of reducing suffering. Smoked marijuana presents a number of problems for health professionals and for public health advocates who oppose smoking. On the one hand, there might be some groups of people (e.g., people with cancer experiencing nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy) for which the inhalation route might offer advantages over the currently available capsule formulation. But physicians favor finding routes of administration under which dosing could be more tightly controlled and easily titrated. Smoking plant material is not easily standardized, tested or prescribed. Additionally, practical problems exist. Given the no-smoking policy of hospitals and public facilities, it would be difficult to imagine prescribing smoked marijuana in these settings.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Oct 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

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