The debate goes on where people weigh the pros and cons of alcohol vs marijuana. Is getting drunk on alcohol worse than getting high on cannabis? This has been one of the most debated questions throughout the majority of the 20th century until this very day. It’s been nearly 85 years since the 21st Amendment to the Constitution repealed the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. With liquor now legal, citizens were free to indulge without restriction. This happened while marijuana continued to be classified as a schedule one drug and remained illegal nationally; until the states of Colorado and Washington legalized recreational pot in 2012. However, the hypocrisy of alcohol’s legalization decades ago did not go unnoticed.
The research into the health effects of marijuana is still in its infancy. However, it has been demonstrated that using either alcohol or marijuana can have health consequences. They are both intoxicants and can have long terms effects on the mind and body. It is a complex issue because the two are difficult to compare.
Drinking too much liquor can be deadly. If your body is incapable of metabolizing alcohol as fast as it is consumed, then it leads to a build up of toxins in the brain that causes vital functions, needed for survival, to shut down. Marijuana, on the other hand, has been found to increase the heart rate and blood pressure. Yet, cannabis has not caused death as a result of overuse.
If you are on medication, alcohol might not mix well or interact with other drugs. For instance, your medication for diabetes or chronic back pain may not work as a result of the alcohol. So for those who are taking drugs for any number of ailments, alcohol has been found to both increase and decrease the levels of the active drug in the body.
Still, both drugs impact health in circuitous ways. Marijuana, for example, can affect coordination and balance. The ability to make sound decisions may be impaired. If you decide to get behind the wheel or engage in unprotected sexual activity, one might assert that your health has been placed in jeopardy.
The long term effects of drinking liquor are well documented. Overindulgence in drinking will lead to serious health consequences; many that can threaten your life. Chief among alcohol related health issues is liver disease, which can lead to fibrosis and ultimately liver cancer.
Unlike drinking alcohol, the impact of constant marijuana usage has not been determined. There have been a few animal studies that suggest that marijuana might cause reproductive problems and might contribute to psychiatric issues; particularly for people who are already predisposed to them. It can hasten respiratory issues like bronchitis. There is no evidence. However, that marijuana has any of the identical consequences on the lungs as smoking tobacco.
Most clinicians will admit that the epidemiology is difficult to address. Also, researchers who study the long term impacts of marijuana use have found that although there’s a cumulative effect on cognition, the ultimate outcome is still unclear.
There are no known medical advantages to drinking alcohol. However, it has been revealed that moderate drinking can lower rates of cardiovascular diseases and frequency of the common cold.
Conversely, marijuana has been legalized expressly to aid with medical issues. There is plenty of proof that the cannabis plant has a number of health benefits. When the substance is in its purest form, scientists might stand a better chance of discerning the exact effects on the human mind and body. Once this occurs, they can begin clinical trials for such illnesses like glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes and many other ailments.
Most physicians will agree that it is virtually impossible to overdose on weed. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than three million deaths due to alcohol worldwide each year. They suggest that alcohol is as much as 114 times more deadly than marijuana.
Those same doctors will also say that marijuana is a psychoactive drug that can produce paranoia, panic attacks, and anxiety. The primary ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This substance is known to attach itself to parts of the brain that are responsible for consciousness, emotions, appetite, and memory.
Alcohol is a whole other animal. It has a depressive effect that can lead to long term damage to the brain and can alter the personality. It has been found to affect the limbic system, which is the emotions center of the brain. It also affects the cerebellum and cerebral cortex. The cerebellum is primarily responsible for balance. We have all seen the impact of drinking on one’s ability to maintain steadiness. Of course, we have witnessed impaired memory and emotional responses as a result of alcohol consumption. Alcohol follows a devastating route directly to the liver, heart, and pancreas.
However, that’s not the most destructive, immediate effect of alcohol use. Alcohol is clearly linked in dramatic ways to violence, sexual assault, a wide range of personal injuries, automobile accidents, alcohol poisoning, and other behaviors. Aside from this, alcoholics are far less productive personally and professionally and are confronted with a host of societal problems stemming from the often belligerent manners and actions.
While it is true that marijuana is not physically addictive, most will admit that it is habitually addictive. This has manifested in a lack of motivation among smokers which can lead to performance issues both at work or at school.
Edibles, among some, are becoming a concern when it comes to marijuana. When it is infused into brownies, cookies, candy, for instance, it is argued that it becomes impossible to determine how much of the drug is actually being consumed. Ingesting too much THC can have disastrous effects that might prove hazardous to oneself or others.
It appears that marijuana may negatively impact creativity; whereas, moderate liquor consumption seems to amplify it. The catch is that alcohol is highly addictive and just drinking in moderation is hard to sustain for many.
Although most of us associate drugs with crime, the only criminal activity associated with marijuana has been selling it illegally; not violence committed by those who smoke weed. New laws, in an increasing number of states, are quickly removing this consideration. On the flip side, crimes that are committed involving alcohol occur in the hundred of thousand annually; if not more. For instance, violent assaults are often fueled by the consumption of liquor while domestic and interpersonal violence is much lower among people who smoke marijuana.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 1,800 college students die each year as a result of alcohol related incidents. Almost 600,000 are injured while under the influence of alcohol. Despite all the evidence, many question why alcohol is more socially acceptable than marijuana? The dangers of cannabis use are nothing in comparison to those of alcohol consumption.
Scouring through the evidence and attempting to discern which is more dangerous between alcohol and marijuana–by any metric alcohol is far more dangerous than smoking weed, in my opinion. Additionally, the beneficial elements contained in marijuana tend to cancel out any of the ill effects.
So in the overall battle over which is worse, alcohol or marijuana, there seems to be little doubt that alcohol is one of the world’s most dangerous legal drugs on the market.