For yet another year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has determined that, despite being the most consumed, most widely cultivated, and most confiscated drug in the world, cannabis has resulted in zero fatal overdoses.
The UNODC has released its 2017 World Drug Report, which covers 2015 statistics from around the world. Not surprisingly, the report finds that opioids are the most harmful drug type. Worldwide, there were roughly 200,000 drug-related deaths in 2015, and more than 25% of those deaths occurred in North America. The report states, “The United States accounts for approximately one quarter of the estimated number of drug-related deaths worldwide, including overdose deaths, which continue to rise. Mostly driven by opioids, overdose deaths in the United States more than tripled during the period 1999-2015, from 16,849 to 52,404 annually, and increased by 11.4 percent in the past year alone, to reach the highest level ever recorded. Indeed, far more people die from the misuse of opioids in the United States each year than from road traffic accidents or violence.”
None of those deaths resulted from cannabis use, even though 183 million people (or 3.8% of the global population) consumed cannabis in 2015.
The report is filled with fascinating factoids, but perhaps the most interesting data for those of us with a vested interest in the cannabis industry comes in the form of a chart titled, “United States: cannabis use patterns, risk perception, availability and medical cannabis among the population aged 18 years and older, 2002-2015.” While the chart indicates that there’ve been modest increases in the “past-year” and “past-month” cannabis users over the 13-year span, the number of “daily or near daily” users has increased at virtually the same rate as “people resident in state with medical use legalized.” And one stat in particular is indicative of the failed war on drugs: the exponential increase in the number of people who believe that cannabis use has “no risk of harm.” It would seem that the more people come out of the closet as cannabis consumers, the more people (both users and abstainers) understand that cannabis, unlike opioids, is not dangerous.