You may remember the CLN story from last week titled “Media Lies About Cannabis Overdose Dangers”, which was partly inspired by the CBC’s story that spread misinformation and fear with this headline: “Spike in cannabis overdoses blamed on potent edibles, poor public education”.
Well, it seems that the CBC is backtracking over its usage of the term “cannabis overdose” after significant backlash on social media and after talking to a few more doctors in a new piece released yesterday.
As emergency room physician Eddy Lang told CBC:
“It’s almost impossible, as far as I know, to ingest so much [cannabis] that you would lose consciousness or be unable to maintain your vital functions.”
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of overdose is:
1: too great a dose (as of a therapeutic agent); also : a lethal or toxic amount (as of a drug)
2: an excessive quantity or amount
So perhaps the CBC was technically correct in using “overdose” with regards to cannabis if they understood the definition of “overdose” as taking too great a dose and then feeling uncomfortable afterwards. But in the public consciousness, “overdose” is most closely associated with death and hard drugs like opioids, and the usage of the word “overdose” in relation to cannabis gives the public the false and misleading impression that cannabis can be just as dangerous.
That’s why it was so irresponsible of the CBC and probably why it had to release another article to clear up the confusion that it had created.
Everyone familiar with cannabis already knows it’s impossible to overdose and die from cannabis- they’d scoff at the idea and just chalk it up to the continued “reefer madness” propaganda that has lingered around cannabis for decades- but that’s not who would be most affected by the CBC’s use of “cannabis overdose”. It’s the people who don’t use cannabis and rely on what the media tells them about it to form their opinions, who’d take the CBC’s word as an authority, and who would end up mistakenly believing that cannabis can be deadly.
That’s classic fearmongering and only contributes to the stigma that the cannabis community has fought ever since cannabis was made illegal in the 1920s. And in an ironically self-fulfilling kind of way, scare pieces like the one from the CBC that warn of the dangers of “cannabis overdoses” may be partly responsible for hospitals seeing more and more cannabis-related visits in the emergency room in the first place!
Featured image courtesy of the National Post.