Politifact recently dug into Gary Johnsons claim that prescription drugs kill more people than marijuana. During a recent CNN Town Hall which took place on August 3, 2016, Johnson was asked about his views on marijuana.
“I just think that so much research and development needs to take place that hasn’t taken place. And that marijuana products deal — or compete directly with legal prescription drugs that statistically kill 100,000 people a year, and there are no documented deaths due to marijuana.”
Politifact, a well-known fact-checking division of the Tampa Times investigated the claims and found that while Johnson is correct, that marijuana doesn’t have any documented toxic overdose fatalities, there are indirect causes of deaths related to the drug such as vehicle accidents and psychotic episodes.
It turns out that Johnson also made a mistake in his prescription drug statistics as well. Johnson referred to a 1998 study that had been denounced by the National Institute for Drug Abuse as overestimated and incorrectly calculated. It turns out that Gary Johnson was about 75,000 deaths off. In 2014, an estimated 25,000 people were killed by a toxic overdose of prescription medication.
We here at TheLaughingGrass have found that both claims are actually skewed. That’s right, both Gary Johnsons claim and Politifacts’ analysis is biased. The bias of TheLaughingGrass also should be noted as pro-pot.
While Gary Johnson is correct that marijuana deaths related to overdoses are a big fat zero, we also acknowledge that the other factors mentioned by Politifact are also valid. While Politifact quotes that 25,000 deaths occurred from prescription painkillers, this is directly related to toxic overdoses. The whole basis of their argument against Johnson is that there are other factors relating to the deaths of weed smokers.
Without quoting any other sources, we are going to lead the argument with some basic math. While PolitiFact quotes the prescription death rate closer to 25,000; how many more deaths, including accidents, murders, etc. were related to the medication? We may never have the real number, but whatever it is, you have to add it to the 25,000 already quoted.
While Johnson was right to blame prescription opioids for an epidemic of deaths in the United States, one cannot actually compare the two issues together. For too long we compare marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs to present our arguments. Sure, the rules aren’t always fair, booze can be legal while pot remains a schedule 1 narcotic. When we stop comparing these things and focus on the true healing effects of marijuana, it will stand in a class of its own, without argument.