In my alternate life as protectors of drug users when I spent years trying to keep them alive (and still spend a fair amount of time helping people detox from drug addictions), I often pointed out an important but counter-intuitive fact about drugs: sniffing and eating drugs can be more dangerous than smoking and injecting. The reason is that these generally more benign drug delivery systems allow people to ingest far larger quantities. After taking one Percocet, the user doesn’t feel it right away, so he takes five or twenty. And before he notices it, he’s passed out and then dead.
This isn’t a reason to encourage people to inject drugs, which has its own problems that are usually even worse. But smoking or vaporizing drugs is actually a good way to deliver them because the effect is immediate at the same time that a very large dose can’t be inhaled at one time. But just to be clear: I’m not saying people should do drugs. But if they do, smoking (or better vaporizing) has the least downside.
The issue comes up today because we are seeing this issue with cannabis. German Lopez over at Vox reported on Friday, Eating Marijuana Is Riskier Than Smoking it. The wide and potent availability of cannabis “edibles” in Colorado has caused a couple of problems recently:
There is no doubt that this is a problem. Not only that, it was a predictable problem that I and others did predict. And the same thing happens all the time with pills. But because everyone is skeptical about the new cannabis law, people are on pins and needles about any cannabis related deaths, even though such things happen regardless of whether the drug is legal or not.
At this point, it doesn’t look as though people are using this small number of tragedies to justify invalidating the experiment. But it does point out the need to inform the public that care must be taken with drugs, even when they come in as benign a form as a chocolate chip cookie.