[Infographic] Medical Marijuana vs. Traditional Pharmaceuticals

The federal government currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, on par with heroin and LSD — but research has shown marijuana to be safer than most of the prescription medications the federal government has made legal.

With 23 states and Washington, D.C. now allowing the legal use of marijuana for its medicinal properties, it’s clear that more Americans than ever are discovering how beneficial and safe medical marijuana can be.

And if you haven’t heard about all the benefits of using medicinal marijuana , it might actually shock you to learn just how safe medical marijuana use can be compared to other FDA-regulated medicines.

The Therapeutic Ratio

When considering how safe any medicine is, it’s essential to consider its therapeutic ratio. The therapeutic ratio is the ratio of the amount of a medicine that it takes to give a therapeutic effect to the amount that causes toxicity.

For example, the therapeutic ratio of aspirin is 1:20. One recommended dose (two pills) is the amount recommended to relieve pain in adults — but 20 of these doses (40 pills) can be toxic to patients, even lethal.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana’s therapeutic ratio is so high that it is virtually impossible to quantify, according to Francis L. Young, a DEA administrative law judge. Basically, it’s nearly impossible to overdose on medical marijuana. Throughout the states where it’s legal, medical marijuana laws have even resulted in a significant decrease in mortality rate associated with opioids.

Medical Marijuana and Hepatitis C

It’s widely understood that traditional treatment methods for Hepatitis C are extremely harsh and produce undesirable side effects. Patients who undergo traditional Hepatitis C therapy often experience nausea, depression, appetite loss, muscle aches and chronic fatigue for months at a time.

However, medical marijuana has emerged as a way to alleviate the harsh side effects of Hepatitis C treatment on patients, and the results are astounding. In a 2006 study, 86% of Hepatitis C patients who used medical marijuana in conjunction with their treatment were able to successfully complete treatment. A mere 29% of patients who didn’t use medical marijuana were able to finish their treatment. This study proves that medicinal marijuana’s lessening of Hepatitis C treatment’s side effects is a significant factor in successfully treating the condition.

Compared to prescription drugs, marijuana is virtually harmless

When it comes to mortality rates, FDA-regulated prescription drugs don’t have the best track record. One study, which looked at 17 FA-approved pharmaceuticals commonly prescribed for conditions that can also be treated with medical marijuana, found that a stunning 11,687 people died from 1997 to 2005 after using, or abusing, those drugs.

In the same eight-year study, zero people died as a result of marijuana use.

In addition, marijuana is virtually non-addictive, with only 10% of users on average developing a dependence. In contrast, more than 15 million people worldwide are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin.


Compared to traditional prescription medicines and drugs, medical marijuana is a more natural, safer, and less addictive alternative that can provide the same — or even better — health benefits.

Considering all the advantages that medicinal marijuana boasts, it’s a good choice for your health to ask your doctor about getting a medical marijuana prescription if you live in a state where it’s legal.

It just might save your life.