Most Americans would sooner ban alcohol than marijuana because they see the herb as safer, a new survey found.
In a survey of over 1,000 people, 57 percent said that, if they could only legalize one, it would be cannabis, while the remaining 43 percent picked alcohol.
Digging deeper, the researchers at American Addiction Centers found this is largely driven by the fact that people see cannabis as much safer than alcohol.
Even people who didn’t consume weed believed it to be 25 percent safer than booze, and much less addictive.
But experts warn that just because marijuana isn’t as deadly as alcohol, its effects can be debilitating, from disrupting memory, mood stability, muscle control, and motivation.
Weed has a very good reputation, unlike alcohol. But is it really safer?
What’s more, it is widely accepted in the scientific community that marijuana can be addictive – so much so that federally-funded scientists are racing to develop a drug to ease withdrawal symptoms for cannabis addicts trying to quit.
This week, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana, and in June, Oklahoma became the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana.
Acceptance has gained steam as more research shows clinical benefits, and – unlike most other illegal drugs – it’s impossible to fatally overdose on it.
While alcohol is legal nationwide since the Prohibition lifted, it has lethal effects. More than 88,000 people die a year due to alcohol-related conditions, with rates rising among women.
WHY ARE MORE PEOPLE USING WEED AND LESS DRINKING ALCOHOL?
For a myriad of reasons, a person’s changing view on marijuana appears to influence how they feel about alcohol at any given time, and vice versa.
Some of it has to do with coincidental timing.
Public health officials have spent decades pushing to drive down drinking rates to
That push only really started to trigger a downturn in the last decade – at the same time that campaigns to recognize marijuana’s qualities took off.
But perhaps more importantly, cannabis is used for the same reasons as alcohol – and more.
Even people who didn’t consume weed believed it to be 25 percent safer than booze, and much less addictive
Most of the time (78.8 percent), alcohol is used to socialize, to celebrate (77.7 percent), or for fun (62.3 percent), according to the new survey.
The reasons for cannabis use was more varied. There was no overwhelmingly typical activity. The most common reason (for 41.1 percent of respondents) was to cope with stress, followed by ‘to have fun’ (39.1 percent), ‘to socialize’ (33.9 percent) and ‘to sleep’ (37.3 percent).
Alcohol was more commonly chosen than marijuana to relax after work, whereas cannabis was the go-to for creative inspiration.
A similar proportion of people said they used because they were addicted – 14 percent were alcohol addicted, and eight percent were cannabis addicted.
It’s something the alcohol industry seems acutely aware of.
In Canada, which legalized nationwide in October, a Toronto startup has developed the first beer made from the cannabis plant (rather than being infused with THC oil).
The founder, Dooma Wendschuh of Province Brands, told the Guardian: ‘The idea came from thinking, can we create something that can serve the role that alcohol serves in our society, and can we do that using this monumental sea change that is happening in our world right now?’
Cannabis is used for the same reasons as alcohol – and more
WHY DO PEOPLE FEAR ALCOHOL MORE THAN THEY FEAR CANNABIS?
Asked whether they were concerned about the effects of alcohol or cannabis, more were concerned about alcohol than cannabis.
Almost everyone asked said the alcohol triggered concerning public behavior, was highly addictive, and could change your facial appearance.
They were also concerned that it could give you a disease, that you could die while drunk, and it could leave you obese.
All of those concerns far outweighed any concerns about marijuana.
When it came to marijuana, some where somewhat concerned about its impact on public behavior, but that was it. The next biggest concern was how the drug affected the teeth, but most were ‘not very concerned’.
Dr Lawrence Weinstein, chief medical officer at the American Addictions Center, told DailyMail.com he found that disconnect concerning.
In 2015, nearly four million people met the diagnostic criteria for marijuana use disorder, and 15 million had alcohol use disorder, but it’s not perceived that way
‘Any substance that alters the mind or impacts the functionality of the prefrontal cortex, such as marijuana, should not be viewed as being generally safe in any regard,’ he said.
‘The impairment of logic and decision-making, for which the prefrontal cortex are responsible, can lead to detrimental occurrences and can be the end result of marijuana use prior to undertaking a task that requires someone to be mentally present.’
He added: ‘There seems to be a prevalent thought that marijuana is mostly, if not completely, harmless and that simply is not the case.
‘This message is being passed down to younger generations and now there are juveniles who view marijuana as something innocuous.’
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF CANNABIS?
Cannabis research is still in its infancy, because its illegal status has been a barrier for scientists to study it.
We do know that no dose of marijuana can be lethal.
But it can be dangerous.
‘We do know that a person’s heart speeds up shortly after use of marijuana and we know that marijuana use can produce many other unwanted effects throughout the body,’ Dr Weinstein said. ‘We also know that marijuana dependence and addiction exists.
‘But unknowns do exist when it comes to cannabis. The sheer number of cannabinoids that exists and the ways in which they bind to receptors in the brain is something being studied by scientists.’
In the short-term, THC, the psychoactive component of the plant, can alter moods, impair bodily movement, and trigger hallucinations.
Asked whether they were concerned about the effects of alcohol or cannabis, more were concerned about alcohol than cannabis
Long-term, there is evidence it could inflict damage to the brain.
Studies have also shown cannabis could pave the way to memory loss and cognitive decline, though it’s not clear if those effects are permanent.
What’s more, it is addictive.
Research shows that 10 percent of regular users become dependent on it, with the risk of addiction higher if started in an individual’s teens or if used every day.
Regular users who quit may get withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, irritability and restlessness.
HOW DOES CANNABIS COMPARE TO ALCOHOL?
Cannabis – unlike alcohol – can have real, therapeutic uses.
But used recreationally, it carries risks that may not be apparent.
‘The visible signs of marijuana use may not be as apparent as someone who is inebriated, but the consequences of both can nearly be the same,’ Dr Weinstein warns.
‘The short term mind-altering effects may seem unimportant at the time, but it is still a drug and the drug still has its dangers.
‘In addition to cardiovascular risks, some studies have shown a clear link between marijuana use by adolescents and an increased risk for an aggressive form of testicular cancer that primarily affects young men.’
The addiction element is also comparable.
57 percent said that, if they could only legalize one, it would be cannabis, while the remaining 43 percent picked alcohol
In 2015, nearly four million people met the diagnostic criteria for marijuana use disorder, and 15 million had alcohol use disorder.
‘Many factors play into the development of addiction including environment and genetics,’ Dr Weinstein said.
‘Often, people with addiction struggle with maintaining dopamine levels and the introduction of a chemical or drug that spikes dopamine makes them feel amazing; that chemical or drug can be alcohol or it could be cannabis. When dopamine is stimulated, the reward centers of the brain are activated which is why the drug of choice is pleasurable.’