DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The National Institute on Drug Abuse released an eyebrow-raising statement to PolitiFact on Monday, denying that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol.
“Claiming that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol cannot be substantiated since each possess their own unique set of risks and consequences for a given individual,” wrote the institute. NIDA, part of the National Institutes of Health, funds government-backed scientific research and has a stated mission “to lead the nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction.”
The statement was in response to a declaration by the pro-pot policy group Marijuana Policy Project that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol –- a claim that was the centerpiece of a controversial pro-marijuana commercial aired during a NASCAR race last month.
PolitiFact took the claim to task, comparing marijuana-related deaths to alcohol-related deaths and toxicity levels of the two substances.
As noted by PolitiFact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics reported 41,682 alcohol-related deaths in 2010. The center had no reports listing marijuana as a cause of death.
PolitiFact also noted a study by Robert Gable, an emeritus professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University, that measured the toxicity levels of substances ranging from heroin to marijuana. The study showed that “marijuana is about 100 times safer than alcohol or cocaine.”
PolitiFact noted that evidence surrounding the long-term effects of marijuana use is murky. Still, the fact-checker ruled the claim that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol “mostly true.”