As the debate over medical marijuana continues in New York and the rest of the U.S., there’s bound to be a lot of conflicting information out there.
Opponents of medical marijuana tend to argue that it is dangerous and has no therapeutic qualities. We’re not medical experts, so we’re not going to debate the intricacies of cannabis’ curative properties. But we have to wonder: Is weed really as dangerous as authorities make it out to be, since it seems a lot safer than common prescription and over-the-counter drugs?
For background, the American Council for Drug Education tells us that pot causes: “impaired perception, diminished short-term memory, loss of concentration and coordination, impaired judgement, increased risk of accidents, loss of motivation, diminished inhibitions, increased heart rate, anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, hallucinations, damage to the respiratory, reproductive, and immune systems, increased risk of cancer, psychological dependency.”
Compare this to the listed side and overdose effects for these popular meds.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) “Upset stomach, mild heartburn, diarrhea, constipation; bloating, gas; dizziness, headache, nervousness; skin itching or rash; blurred vision; ringing in ears; chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance; black, bloody, or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; swelling or rapid weight gain; urinating less than usual or not at all; nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash; bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness; or severe headache, neck stiffness, chills, increased sensitivity to light, and/or seizure (convulsions)
An overdose of acetaminophen can be fatal.
The first signs of an acetaminophen overdose include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, sweating, and confusion or weakness. Later symptoms may include pain in your upper stomach, dark urine, and yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.”
Dextromethorphan and Guaifenesin (Robutissin DM): “Drowsiness and dizziness. Adverse effects, which have occurred at higher doses, include excitation, mental confusion, and opiate-like respiratory depression. In some cases of abuse, patients have experienced euphoria, hyperactivity, mania, and auditory and visual hallucinations.nausea, vomiting and constipation.
Overdose effects (from the National Institutes of Health): no breathing; bluish-colored fingernails and lips; blurred vision, high/low blood pressure; coma; convulsions.”
Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percoset, Percodan): “Constipation; dizziness; drowsiness; headache; nausea; sleeplessness; vomiting; weakness; rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; chest pain; confusion; difficult or painful urination; fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; mental or mood changes; numbness of an arm or leg; seizures; severe or persistent dizziness or light-headedness; slowed or difficult breathing; sudden, severe headache or vomiting; swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet; tremor; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision changes.
Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, muscle weakness, confusion, cold and clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, shallow breathing, slow heart rate, fainting, or coma.”
Hydrocodone (Vicodin) : “Nausea; vomiting; constipation; lightheadedness; dizziness; fainting; seizure; slow/shallow breathing; unusual drowsiness/difficulty waking up.
Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, sweating, pinpoint pupils, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), confusion, cold and clammy skin, muscle weakness, fainting, weak pulse, slow heart rate, coma, blue lips, shallow breathing, or no breathing.”
Alprazolam (Xanax) : “Changes in appetite; constipation; decreased sexual desire or ability; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; light-headedness; nausea; tiredness; weight changes; rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; unusual hoarseness; behavior changes; blurred vision; burning, numbness, or tingling; chest pain; confusion; dark urine; decreased coordination; decreased urination; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; hallucinations; loss of balance or muscle control; memory or attention problems; menstrual changes; muscle twitching; new or worsening mental or mood changes (eg, depression, irritability, anxiety; exaggerated feeling of wellbeing); overstimulation; red, swollen blistered, or peeling skin; severe or persistent dizziness, drowsiness, or light-headedness; shortness of breath or trouble breathing; suicidal thoughts or actions; tremor; trouble speaking; yellowing of the eyes or skin.
An overdose of Xanax can be fatal. Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, confusion, muscle weakness, loss of balance or coordination, feeling light-headed, and fainting.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 18, 2012