Research conducted on the safety of medical cannabis vs. the safety of 17 drugs that were approved by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) based on the number of deaths caused showed that medical cannabis was the secondary suspect in 279 deaths as against 1,679 deaths where FDA-approved drugs were the secondary suspect.

While medical marijuana or MMJ was never reported as the primary suspect, the total number of cases in which the 17 FDA-approved drugs appeared to be the culprit was as high as 10,008. All the statistics and data were collected over a period of 8 years from January 1, 1997 to June 30th, 2005. The total number of death recorded in this period that was due due to medical marijuana was astonishingly low (279) when compared with those caused by the FDA-approved drugs (11,687).

Of the 17 FDA-approved drugs that were chosen for this study, twelve of them were selected as they are commonly prescribed instead of medical marijuana. The other five FDA-approved drugs were randomly chosen as these are widely recognized and used by the general public. These 17 drugs included a mix of anti-emetics (drugs that are used to treat vomiting), antispasmodics (drugs that are used to treat muscle spasms), antipsychotics (drugs that are used to treat psychosis), and other popular drugs that are commonly used for treating Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), depression, narcolepsy, erectile dysfunction, and pain.

The number of deaths recorded due to the use of each drug was basically counted as the information supplied by the FDA included all the adverse events of which only a portion included deaths. A copy of the adverse events, these being defined as accidents where the use of drugs of any dosage including medical devices such as in vitro diagnostics or medical food, infant formula, dietary supplements, and other special nutritional products are suspected to have triggered an adverse income in a patient was also submitted.

The information was collected from five printed reports and 12 CDs with copies of the AERS (Adverse Event Reporting System) report for each and every drug that was a part of this study. A review of these AERS reports provided by the FDA revealed that there were some deaths where medical marijuana was also used at the time of death. This leads to more investigation regarding the use of medical cannabis, and cannabinoids as concomitant drugs in reported deaths.