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The marijuana hoax and the hard truth

David Epps's picture

After Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana, an article appeared in the Daily Currant, a website. The article got a great deal of traction. Apparently a spoof, the article reported that 37 deaths occurred in one day from people overdosing on marijuana. The whole thing was a hoax. The deaths never occurred.

Some people, believing the article was true, spread the word via social media and millions were drawn in. One Rebecca Kelly responded thusly to the article: “So here’s a friendly reminder for you: there have been precisely zero deaths in the history of the world attributed to cannabis overdose. Sure, you can ingest too much marijuana, but your symptoms are likely to subside after a few hours and you’ll emerge with nothing more than some grogginess and a slight hangover. Cannabis certainly does not cause ‘cardiac arrests,’ ‘hypospadias’ (a birth defect pertaining to the penis), ‘acquired trimethylaminuria’ (a genetic disease that causes an offensive body odor), or ‘multiple organ failures.’”

I concede that, as far as I know, no one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. That’s not my problem with the drug. At the present time, marijuana is illegal in most states. The trend seems to be toward legalization, but even that is not my problem with the drug.

Here’s my problem. Marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Granted, not everyone who takes a toke will wind up snorting cocaine, smoking meth, or injecting heroin. But it has been my experience that everyone who does snort cocaine, smokes meth, or shoots heroin didn’t start there.

No one got up in the morning and said, “I think I will go out today and destroy my life and the lives of all who care about me by doing hard drugs.” No, almost all drug addicts began with the “soft” drug — marijuana. And, in most cases, no one ever intended to become a hard-core addict.

According to a 2011 report on Good Morning America, “Drug overdoses and brain damage linked to long-term drug abuse killed an estimated 37,485 people in 2009 ... surpassing the toll of traffic accidents by 1,201. And the number is likely to rise ...” This number included prescription and illegal drugs, but the number is alarming.

In 2012, there were an estimated 22.2 million people, age 12 and older, who were classified as “substance dependant” (source: With the legalization of marijuana, more people, who formerly stayed away from the drug because of its illegality, will likely experiment with its use. The result will, ultimately, be a greater number of addicts.

As someone who came to age in the 1960s and as someone who has dealt with drug users and addicts for decades, I see no benefit in the recreational use of marijuana.

The article about the 37 marijuana deaths in one day may have been a joke, but the 38,000 deaths that occur each year — and the hundreds of thousands of ruined lives — as a result of drug overdoses, to which marijuana use is a contributing factor, is no laughing matter. As St. Paul said, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable”(I Cor. 10:23 NASB).

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U.S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at]


frotzed's picture

Marijuana is a gateway drug, but not for the reasons you think. If Advil were made illegal then IT TOO would be a gateway drug. Why? Because most people who _now use heroin_ once also used Advil! For that matter, people who abuse heroin also drink coffee, breathe air and eat pizza.

Thanks for the bad argument Mr. Epps. I enjoy your op-ed writing and don't think you should stop, but it's time to learn the difference between correlation and causation. Hint: they're not synonyms.

ptctaxpayer's picture

Father Oops--- this one was as funny as the one when you applauded Morgan (The Dead Guy) for having the courage to post his real name.

Alcohol is worse than reefer. Some day Robert Horgan's whole thing will be viewed as a silly much ado about nothing.

I have used medical marijuana. It was during a test phase. It did the job as well as any painkiller I have ever been on. Now I am back on Morphine 120mg extended realease tabs. Previously I was on Fentenal , both of these drugs are effective but highly addictive. I could use booze and get the same thing. I just have a question, why cant people wake up, legalize something for medical purposes and be done with it? Tired of living in fear that I will forget to take my meds and wind up in a very painful withdrawel. OK I wii get down off my soap box

I fail to see why it is illegal, other than to raise $$$$$$$$$$ for the cops.

I have no problem legalizing it and picking up the tax revenue. Think about the taxes they could charge and throw out Obummer Care

Robert W. Morgan's picture

That is my real name. Really.
And yes, alcohol is much worse than marijuana.

Live free or die!

brewster's picture

Agreed. And the best remedy known to man for a hang-over from a liquor binge is a few bong hits.

brewster's picture

Unless Advil can make you high. If Advil were illegal, Heroin users would not say they used Advil and marijuana for the same reasons. The "Gateway" that is referred to is for an escape from sobriety/reality to a place that is far out.

I missed that Reefer Madness had been on TV. Was it on late?
Sadly it is this mindset that has lead us down the road to a War on Drugs for the past 40 years. One that has made a criminal underclass w/ the largest prison population in the industrialized world or the whole world for that matter. It has also lead to the militarization of the local police. It is a war that has been lost. If any progress were being made economics would show that the prices of drugs would have risen with the shortage. That is not the case.

SPQR's picture

I would suggest some reading on critical thinking

maximus's picture

If an adult wants to smoke weed harvested from their own garden, or purchased from someone else, it is really none of your business. It doesn't have to be justified by showing how bogus the anti-marijuana "studies" are about addiction or being a gateway drug or anything else. It doesn't have to be justified by pointing to all of the non-violent offenders in jail, or the militarization of the police or anything else.

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Gort's picture

Now this is entertainment, a debate between a purveyor of wine and wafers vs. the holy smokers!

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

PTC Observer's picture

they are a changin.

The fact is that the war on drugs has killed thousands of innocent people and incarcerated thousands. Marijuana has been a big part of the "war".

We all believe in personal responsibility, drug overdose is a an outcome of personal decisions, decisions that will be made if drugs are legal or not. Alcohol sales in Southern States were severely limited for decades in the belief that people would "abuse" alcohol. These laws were changed and other laws put in their place that would penalize the outcomes of the use of alcohol. Sales restriction, Prohibition, spawned crime and corruption nothing more. That also can be said of the War on Drugs Pastor.

The state needs to protect us against other citizens that could endanger our lives, freedom and property. Drug laws for the most part don't accomplish this goal. The state needs to let its citizens make personal decisions about how they live and use products. Christians need to convince others the error of their ways using friendly persuasion, they shouldn't legislate it.

NUK_1's picture

...the complete lack of logical reasoning in this letter.

First off, please tell me how prohibition on ANY drugs- "hard" or "soft" has worked? You mean that prohibiting what Americans can consume in their own bodies is a good idea and has worked for anyone besides law enforcement, the probation industry, drug dealers and drug cartels and prison industries? It sure as hell hasn't worked for American society.

Stop reading out-dated crap from decades ago. If you think marijuana is a "gateway drug," I've got news for you: cigarettes are the ultimate gateway drug and have been for quite a very long time, followed very closely by alcohol. I don't think they should be banned either because IT DOES NOT WORK WHATSOEVER. What is so damn scary about people ingesting whatever into their own bodies? Isn't this just basic liberty and freedom?

I have always been a hardline Libertarian on this issue: I don't want to hear about marijuana benefits or this or that....legalize them ALL and do it yesterday already.

brewster's picture

Yes indeed - same "basic liberty" should apply to the Sports realm. Let the jocks use anything and everything, from PED's to Cocaine - we just want to see production. If they explode on their family with roid rage or cap somebody for dissin' their meth supplier, what's that to the rest of us? Toss them to the side and let the next dude step up. Once all the doses and prescriptions for success are determined - then the youngsters you see in the NFL PLAY60 commercials will have all they need to know to make sure they have the best chance to succeed.

NUK_1's picture

Pro sports leagues and all other businesses can decide whether you get to show up for work under the influence of alcohol or drugs already. Don't see the point here at all.

brewster's picture

Not "under the influence" but "blood test with traces in your system". You mentioned ANY drugs, so I just wanted to make sure steroids weren't left out of the discussion.

Bishop Epps' columns are invariably reasonable and directed toward the public good. But he gets attacked more than anyone else at the Citizen. What is it that these people hate?

Gort's picture

Madprof, no doubt about it, a bad case of “Reefer Madness” has infected the blogging community.

Why do you think they make so many zombie television episodes and movies around here?

Bladderq, here you go, the musical,...

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

rolling stone's picture

The devil went to Jamaica:
(sorry for the need to copy and paste, links land me in the phantom zone)

I just disagree with him. It happens.

You could also argue that legal drugs like alcohol, tobacco, or ADD medicine are gateway drugs. Taking marijuana off of the streets would lessen a gateway effect because people wouldn't be going through the same marketplace where stronger drugs are available... I also think that people who recreationally use drugs, whether legal or illegal, are likely to experiment. I'm not going to argue that marijuana is or isn't a gateway drug, I think the issue is more complicated than that.

Set down with a group of local Atty's and ask them how many clients they have represented that have beat up their wives/girlfriends while stoned, they will all tell you none. Now ask the same questions in regards to alcohol and they will answer to a tee that all of them have. I'd much rather have a joint than a couple of shots of liquor any day. But hey what do I know I only been smoking the stuff for 40 years. No side effects, successful, work every day and been married with kids for 30+ years. Go figure!!!

Worked great....they have about 5 local options for delivery in town.

I thought this was a good a place as any to post this. :)

Bring your baby too?

[quote]As someone who came to age in the 1960s and as someone who has dealt with drug users and addicts for decades, I see no benefit in the recreational use of marijuana.[/quote]

We are entitled to our opinion. Others disagree. In my experience, I have not seen a person who only uses marijuana involved in the abuse or killing of their child or spouse, etc. I do have an opinion that marijuana has been used by those who are of an addictive nature as an 'entry drug' to more harmful drugs and dangerous activities that would harm themselves and others.

Jesus tuned the water to wine - he never commanded that man become 'drunk' from the drink. The churches, good parenting skills, education should be available in helping humans make right decisions about their health and the health of their families and communities. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom.

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