Since this morning, thousands of people worldwide have died from using a popular recreational drug.
And it’s not marijuana.
If you’re interested in seeing by-the-second numbers, a clever website called Since This Morning now exists to satisfy you.
The website serves as a nice reminder that marijuana has never been recorded as a direct cause of death.
On the other hand, it also serves as a reminder of how deadly alcohol is on a daily basis.
(Spoiler: The death count should hit just over 4,800 by midnight EST, since the figures are based on the World Health Organization’s latest annual report)
While the accuracy of the website’s alcohol toll may fluctuate depending on the day, it’s still an underestimate of its true danger, since accidental deaths related to alcohol – such as traffic accidents and other unintentional injuries – are not included.
But why doesn’t marijuana kill people like alcohol does?
Interestingly, it has little to do with the difference in overdose risk. Relatively few people die each year from alcohol poisoning – although no one has yet to smoke enough marijuana in one sitting to kill themselves.
Rather, it’s long-term alcohol consumption that happens to be the real killer – responsible for a large portion of worldwide deaths caused by liver failure, heart disease, and cancer.
According to the latest WHO report, around 1,760,000 deaths each year are directly attributable to alcohol. And that’s a net total – the report subtracted 11,000 diabetes deaths that alcohol managed to prevent (so it’s not 100% bad news).
But if we’re counting deaths prevented, then Since This Morning may not be that clever after all.
Because marijuana – the most popular illegal drug worldwide – also happens to be a versatile and increasingly popular form of medicine. Even when used recreationally, studies show that marijuana can lower the risk of diabetes and obesity as well as various forms of cancer – including throat, lung and bladder cancers.
Not to mention, a study published earlier this year found that legalizing marijuana could actually reduce traffic fatalities.
Unfortunately, WHO has yet to publish a report on marijuana-related deaths.
And don’t expect them to look into it anytime soon. Despite growing support for legalization, it’s probably too early for the World Health Organization to acknowledge the number of lives that marijuana has saved.
But one day perhaps.