We’re guessing that a decent number of you reading this have that one friend who never stops posting about the legalization of marijuana. If that friend of yours happens to hinge their entire argument on the fact that marijuana is a natural drug, you may wish to inform them that it’s still not as safe as LSD just to watch their face drop.
Just so we’re clear, marijuana is still a very low risk drug and there is still no medical consensus on exactly what, if any, long term effect it has on the human body. Though this is less to due with the drug being super-safe and more to do with the fact that satisfactory long-term studies simply haven’t been conducted. Another factor that has really put a dampener on studies into the effects of marijuana is that the vast majority of people who smoke it, also smoke tobacco. For example, in one study on the link between marijuana smoking and a disease called arteritis (not to be confused with arthritis) a conclusion was impossible to discern because 97% of marijuana smokers also smoked tobacco.
But we’re getting away from the point at hand, when the issue of whether or not marijuana is safe comes up, you can guarantee that there will be one person who will insist that marijuana is 100% safe simply because it’s natural. If this argument seems stupid to you, congratulations, you don’t know that guy. For everyone else, this argument is one you’ve likely seen rehashed dozens of times.
For most the idea of something not being dangerous because it’s natural is laughable at best, because most people are aware that bears exist. Hell, lead is one of the most toxic substances on Earth and we pull that shit straight out of the ground. Something being natural has no bearing on how dangerous it is, because believe it or not, a lot of things in nature are really good at killing us.
So how much more dangerous is marijuana than LSD, well, in terms of the danger it poses to the human body, the risks of both LSD and marijuana are about the same. However, marijuana is like, a fuck-ton more addictive than LSD. While LSD is largely agreed to be an entirely non-addictive substance, marijuana (contrary to what your stoner friends who smoke it all the time but totally aren’t addicted would have you believe) isn’t.
As noted here, and here, and here, marijuana dependence is totally a thing and while it’s not nearly as widespread as say, alcohol or tobacco addiction, it still impacts a sizeable chunk of the population.
Again, we’re not saying that marijuana isn’t a low-risk drug, because it’s still massively less harmful than both alcohol and tobacco and it’s also way less addictive. If everyone smoked marijuana instead of tobacco, there would almost certainly be an overall improvement to public health. However, insisting that it’s safe purely because it’s a natural product you pull out of the ground is stupid, because statistically, it’s still not as safe as the poster-child for synthetic drugs.
What this all boils down to is a culture of misinformation from both sides of the drug legalization debate. If you want to smoke a bunch of marijuana, that’s your business and we’re not going to judge, but remember, something being natural doesn’t necessarily make it safe, the same way something being artificial doesn’t automatically make it dangerous.
We now look forward to the well reasoned debate this article is going to inspire, just like the time that lady said ecstasy was safer than aspirin, backed it up with a bunch of empirical evidence and was immediately fired and sent death threats.