As Gary Johnson, governor of New Mexico (and only the most recent Republican to figure out that the path to fawning media coverage is to adopt a dumb liberal idea) puts it (as summarized in a fawning article in The New York Times): "Last year 450,000 people died from smoking cigarettes. Alcohol killed 150,000, and another 100,000 died from legal prescription drugs. How many people died last year from the use of marijuana? Few, if any. From cocaine and heroin? Five thousand."
I'll accept all the drug-legalizers' lying statistics and demonstrate that their arguments are still dumb, but you have to admit that someone who lies in formulating an argument is not to be trusted. And that figure on cigarette deaths is a bald-faced lie.
The 450,000 number refers to all "smoking-related" deaths. A "smoking-related" death is any death that under any circumstances could be connected to smoking, including heart attacks and a plethora of cancers. If an obese 99-year old smoker dies of a heart attack while shoveling snow, his death is listed as a "smoking-related" death.
Indeed, the books are so cooked on the "smoking-related deaths" alleged by the American Cancer Society that a 1993 article in the American Journal of Epidemiology was able to show that by using the exact same methodology, smoking saves 277,621 lives each year. (The methodology also proves that 504,000 people die each year from insufficient exercise, and 649,000 die from improper diets.)
It is known that marijuana smoke is much worse for the respiratory system than is cigarette smoke. The only reason you don't hear about a lot of people dying from marijuana is that -- well, for one, like the guy shoveling snow, a pot-smoker who dies of emphysema goes down as a "smoking-related" death. But also people don't smoke pot like they smoke cigarettes. And one reason for that is: Marijuana is illegal.
Still, let's grant the drug-legalizers their phony statistics. Assume alcohol and cigarettes induce dependency, ruin lives, cause disease, depression, countless traffic injuries and fatalities, and increase the incidence of homicide and suicide. This is supposed to be an argument for legalizing another drug like them?