Which is worse, booze or pot? A doctor weighs in
One is legal; alcohol. The other legal and illegal; marijuana. So does alcohol being legal make it safer than marijuana? Most people would follow the logic that since one is legal, it must be safer; how could our government allow the legal use of something that is worse for you than another that is illegal? Makes sense right?
Only if the facts supported this line of thinking. The fact is that all the studies have shown alcohol to be directly responsible or contributed to higher rates of addiction, death, and any other relevant metric.
CBS News had a recent article that posed this very question from the parents perspective on which is safer, alcohol or marijuana, IF kids are going to experiment. Let’s face it, the natural response is kids shouldn’t be using either, but the reality is that many will experiment. The article lays out a doctor’s opinion and judgement on which one poses the less risk to the overall well-being of teens.
Dr. Aaron Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, states in the CBS News article:
“After going through all the data and looking at which is more dangerous in almost any metric you would pick, pot really looks like it’s safer than alcohol,” he said. “So I guess if I had to choose, that would be the answer.”
One of the most stark difference between alcohol and marijuana is the association between their use and violent crimes. For marijuana, “most of the criminal activity is tied to illegal distribution, not violence committed by people who smoke it”. And in fact, Dr. Carroll goes on to note:
Violent assaults, in particular, are often fueled by alcohol. In contrast, Carroll says research shows rates of interpersonal or domestic violence are actually “lower in people who smoke marijuana than people that don’t.”
So research has shown that marijuana smokers are more peaceful than people who don’t smoke it.
For alcohol, it’s quite a different story as he notes…
“On the other hand, the number of crimes that are committed that have some sort of alcohol component related to them are massive — hundreds of thousands a year, if not more,” he said. “It’s far worse than what’s going on with pot.”
Also tipping the scales against drinking is the fact that 1,800 college students die each year from alcohol-related accidents and almost 600,000 are injured while under the influence of alcohol, according to the National Institutes of Health.
A study published last year, looking at data from more than 7,400 U.S. high school seniors who said they had used alcohol or marijuana at least once, found drinking alcohol was associated with more unsafe driving, damage to relationships with friends and romantic partners, and regret about actions while under the influence of alcohol, especially among females.
“We always worry about pot as a gateway drug,” Carroll said, “but research shows us that about 9 percent of people who experiment with pot will become dependent or abuse it. The percent that later become dependent or abuse alcohol is greater than 20 percent. So more people who use alcohol are actually going to have a problem with it later in life.”
So back to the question of why is one legal and the other illegal, when the facts run contradictory to the facts. As the Dr. Carroll notes, it’s an accident of history; “because it’s been around and legal for a longer period of time”. This is undoubtedly. However, one thing that wasn’t mentioned is the fact that there are powerful big money interests entrenched to provide the alcohol.
As the good doctor notes…
“It’s hard to argue from data or from actual science that that’s the way it should be,”
The following is the video of the CBS News article: