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At the beginning of cannabis legalization, many cannabis advocates and supporters were often quoted saying, "Regulate weed like tobacco and alcohol!" However, as the science catches up, we are starting to realize cannabis and alcohol don't belong in the same category. Today's question from Quora gives us the opportunity to define cannabis vs alcohol.
What are Some Benefits of Cannabis Over Alcohol Consumption?
I feel highly qualified to answer this question. Being raised in the Midwest, where drinking is a part of everyday life, I remember my dad sharing sips of Peppermint Schnapps with me as small child. In fact, I was sneaking into my father's liquor cabinet long before I was taking tokes of the devil's lettuce and I spent many weekends in my 20's and 30's drunk as a skunk.
Since moving to Colorado and becoming a regular cannabis consumer, I hardly drink at all anymore. Don't get me wrong; I still love to sip on a Margarita while I'm eating at a Mexican restaurant but oddly enough, that one margarita will give me a buzz, and I will likely be hungover with a splitting headache by the time we get home.
I am not alone. Recent survey results published by Kadence International show most daily cannabis consumers stop drinking alcohol because they believe it's more harmful than cannabis. So, let's take a minute to compare what we know about these two substances.
Alcohol's Effect on the Body & Mind
The first thing we have to remember – alcohol is a poison. In fact, according to science, alcohol affects the mind and body in a variety of ways. According to the National Institute of Health…
- Brain: Alcohol inhibits the communication pathways in the brain to alter mood, behavior and the ability to process thoughts or move with any grace. Additionally, alcohol consumption causes blurred vision, slurred speech, and severely impaired reflexes and motor function.
- Heart: Whether long-term drinking or simply binge drinking, alcohol causes problems with the heart including cardiomyopathy (droopy heart muscles), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), strokes, and high blood pressure.
- Liver: Alcohol is hard on the liver and causes fatty liver disease, hepatitis, fibrosis, and
- Pancreas: with alcohol, the pancreas produces toxic substances which lead to inflammation, pancreatitis, and prevent proper digestion.
- Cancer: Alcohol consumption is related to several types of cancer including head and neck cancers, cancer of the esophagus, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.
- Death: Alcohol poisoning is a common cause of death in the United States. According to the CDC, six people died every day from alcohol poisoning from 2010 to 2012.
Cannabis' Effect on the Body & Mind
Now, even though I am an advocate for cannabis use, I am also aware cannabis has its own set of effects and cautionary tales. While I'll rarely talk about the negatives of cannabis without providing the positives, here's what the National Institute on Drug Abuse says about marijuana:
- Lungs: Inhaling smoke from anything is not good on the lungs and can increase cough and phlegm, as well as, cause certain lung ailments and infections. Fortunately, no one is forced to smoke cannabis; thanks to the legal market, there are many other options for consumption these days.
- Heart: Cannabis increases the heart rate and may heighten the risk for heart attack in some individuals.
- Nausea: Many new cannabis consumers can experience nausea, especially from edibles.
- Brain: Cannabis can causes heightened senses, temporary hallucinations (auras, bright lights… You're not going to see little green men), and temporary paranoia.
- Cancer: There is no evidence currently that cannabis directly causes any kind of cancer.
- Death: Cannabis has not killed anyone.
This deserves its own section. Naturally, the first argument we always hear about cannabis legalization is "What about the children?" However, I'm going to challenge that thought process for a moment.
While introducing cannabinoids into a developing brain may lead to unknown developmental damage in adolescents, is alcohol any better? Alcohol clearly has a long-term impact. How many teens are killed every year due to binge drinking or drunk driving accidents?
As I've stated in other articles, protecting our children is a priority for all of us, but of all the things we have to protect them from, alcohol, prescription drugs, cigarettes, predators, and pedophiles – I believe cannabis ranks pretty low on that scale.
From the Horse's Mouth
Now that we've covered what the science says, allow me to elaborate on my own experiences.
For me, cannabis is a thoughtful, mindful substance, which does the opposite of alcohol. Think of it like this, alcohol intoxication inhibits our ability to think clearly (or at all in some cases), while cannabis often causes the consumer to OVER think – this is why people have a tendency to get paranoid while consuming cannabis – they are thinking about every possible negative thing in the world. I've been there.
For me, alcohol made me someone I was not, separating my mind from my spirit and damaging my body. Cannabis connects my mind, body, and spirit – It helps me to be more aware and tune into myself and my surroundings. Cannabis slows down my thought process, calms my anxiety, and levels me out.
I Don't Miss Alcohol – Not One Bit.
- I don't miss not being in control of my faculties. I never lose consciousness with cannabis; I never lose my awareness or my ability to control myself. In fact, I become hyper-vigilant about what I say or do under the influence of cannabis.
- I don't miss the hangovers.
- I don't miss the empty calories and excess weight.
- I don't miss the drama. Drunk people cause drama.
- I don't miss babysitting other drunks or being a designated driver while someone pukes in my car.
- I don't miss holding my hair back as I pray to the porcelain god.
- I don't miss waking up wondering what stupid, mindless thing I said or did the night before or angry about some other drunk's irrational, foolishness.
Thanks for a great question! If you want to see your question answered here on Leafbuyer, ask the cannasseur on Quora.