A statistical peak at the drug behind the deaths of none of its consumers
Pot, weed, grass, call it what you want, people have been smoking marijuana for thousands of years. It’s only in the last hundred years or so that countries around the world started to ban the plant. Let’s take a look at some marijuana statistics over that century in the United States and the rest of the world.
Marijuana has been at the sour end of a massive propaganda campaign for decades. The campaign was so successful that marijuana got labeled a schedule 1 controlled substance. Under US law, weed is technically more dangerous than cocaine, opium and PCP (schedule 2 drugs) and can carry a life sentence if convicted of trafficking.
After years of research, it has become clear that pot is actually very safe, even safer than alcohol. You can die from alcohol poisoning or a cocaine overdose, but no one has ever died from smoking marijuana. Contrary to what some believe, it also does not predispose people to violent tendencies, in truth it mellows them out.
Despite the evidence, there are very few countries on Earth where marijuana is completely legal. North Korea is really the only country where it’s legal to sell it, grow it and consume it with government interference. In fact, it’s not even classified as a drug.
Countries like Canada and France have legalized its use for medical purposes. Others like Portugal and Mexico have decriminalized the drug, while in Spain it’s legal to grow and consume for personal use.
In the United States it can get a lot more complicated. Lucky for us there is much more data and marijuana statistics available. While Pot is still illegal in all forms at the federal level, it has come a long way in the country largely responsible for the global war on drugs at the state level.
As of last year, Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize marijuana. There are also 20 states (plus DC) that have legalized pot for medical use. These might be baby steps, but given where we were a few years ago, it is significant progress.
During the 60’s, before President Nixon declared war on drugs, arrests on marijuana charges were below a 100,000 a year. In the 70’s and 80’s the number of arrests rose to an average of about 400,000. Through the Clinton and Bush Jr. administrations the number of arrests skyrocketed, peaking at 850,000 arrests in the final years of Bush’s Reign.
In the United States arrests for marijuana offences is also a racial issue. 76% of all pot users in the country are white people while only 11% are African American. Yet, of those arrested for pot, around 75% of them are black. Shameful would be putting it mildly. Take a look at the amount of usage by race and compare it to the arrest rates:
Marijuana usage is highest among adults 18-24 and declines with every subsequent age group, but half of almost all age groups have tried it in their lifetime.
Some people might think Americans are the biggest pot smokers in the world, they would be wrong. As a percentage share of people who have used cannabis, generally including people 15 and above, the honor actually goes to New Zealand. The US is third.
Finally, it’s time to put an end to this onslaught against personal freedom. Smoking weed doesn’t hurt anyone. In the time it took you to read this article, five to ten more people we’re arrested for pot in the United States alone.