Tylenol — generically known as acetaminophen in North America and Japan and paracetamol almost everywhere else — is a ubiquitous over-the-counter painkiller and fever reducer available around the world. Many people take Tylenol at the first sign of headache, body ache, or fever.

Acetaminophen is often combined with other medicines (even Benadryl) to create new products, and taking a number of these products together can lead to an inadvertent overdose.

How Does Acetaminophen Compare To Medical Marijuana?

Acetaminophen works in several different ways to relieve pain, and one of them involves the body’s cannabinoid receptors, so it works in much the same way as cannabis in that regard. But even though acetaminophen is an FDA-approved drug, it has a number of side effects, some of them potentially serious. According to Wikipedia, “Prolonged daily use increases the risk of upper gastrointestinal complications such as stomach bleeding, and may cause kidney or liver damage. Paracetamol is metabolized by the liver and is hepatotoxic; side effects may be more likely in chronic alcoholics or patients with liver damage.”

The New York Times reported that acetaminophen causes three times as many cases of liver failure as all other drugs combined. It should be noted that this is almost always caused by an overdose, although some people have had toxic effects due to their personal body chemistry. However, your risk at lower doses can go up from alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption, or even no consumption (fasting is a risk factor as well). It is safe to say that there are over 250,000 cases of acetaminophen poisoning each year worldwide, with over 1,000 deaths. It’s also especially toxic to cats and snakes.

In general, if you’re at risk because of allergy, liver or kidney problems, or alcohol intake, you might consider trying a safer pain relief drug…like cannabis.

We’ve taken the following information from Wikipedia and PubMed, and highlighted in bold green any side effects or uses that match those known for cannabis.

Trade Names: Tylenol, Tempra, Datril, Panadol
Street Names*: APAP, Dexamol, Dolo, Kafa, Lupocet
Generic Name: Acetaminophen, Paracetamol

Some Typical Uses:

  • Pain relief
  • Reduce fever
  • General relief from allergy, cold, cough, and flu symptoms

Possible Side Effects (Not Common):

  • rash
  • hives
  • itching
  • swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • hoarseness
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing

* These are not actually “street names”, since there is no black market for this drug, but I chose to use a few actual selected acetaminophen brand names from around the world to make a point about how “drug warriors” use foreign or scary-sounding names to propagandize people against certain substances. Like “marijuana”, a word that was never even used in the United States until someone suddenly wanted to suppress cannabis.

4 Responses

  1. Sarah Lovering

    Awesome report! Acetominophen is actually the leading cause of liver failure, and that includes people who take within the recommended dose. So glad you’re highlighting how it compares to medical marijuana. If we, as a nation, can tolerate the dangers of (legal, regulated) acetominophen, then why couldn’t we tolerate the dangers associated with legal and regulated cannabis?

  2. PMW

    Since Acetominophen is more harmful than cannabis, the government must have another reason for prohibition. The main reason is the people must stand up for what is right, not submitting to corruption.

  3. Mike from Texas

    It all has to do with competition. The US Government (Mainly the Republican Party) is owned by Big Business (Oil, Chemical, Pharmaceutical, Timber, Beer, Wine etc). Big Business does not want to compete with Cannabis because they know they will lose. It’s very simple, in the next election find out who is financially supporting the candidate. If that candidate is being backed by Big Business don’t vote for them. This is the only way to legally win this battle and get rid of the Brainwashed narrow-minded A-holes running the Government.

  4. CD

    Marijuana is to Big Pharma, as Linux and Open Source is to Micro$oft.

    Marijuana is open source medicine, and unless Big Pharma can make a buck from it, it will remain illegal… at the federal level.

    Since the feds are owned by Big Biz…

    Go look up “PROTECT IP Act” or browse Groklaw. Very scary stuff there.

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