Today we finally put the matter to rest: is cannabis safer than alcohol?
Cannabis is beginning to lose the stigma it once had. What was once seen as a dangerous drug indicative of bad character is now a burgeoning industry and culture with no signs of slowing down.
Clearly, attitudes around cannabis are changing. Even so, some still view cannabis in an unfavourable light, especially compared to something like alcohol. And while everyone still has their preferences, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that some opinions aren’t exactly rooted in science. Many people prefer alcohol because they see cannabis as a potentially dangerous substance.
So let’s finally get to the bottom of this: which is safer, alcohol or cannabis?
Before we fully get into this, it should be said that researchers are still studying the effects of cannabis use. While we know quite a bit about cannabis, we don’t know everything there is to know yet. We do, however, have years of research detailing the effects of alcohol use. This, along with what we do know about cannabis, allows us to make reasonable deductions.
The verdict? Cannabis is safer than alcohol. At the very least, it has fewer negative effects.
One important thing to remember is that cannabis is associated with health benefits that alcohol can’t claim. Cannabis has a history of assisting people with chronic pain, anxiety, seizures, glaucoma, sleep issues, chemotherapy, inflammation, and more. The presence of CBD is another highly redeemable trait of cannabis, making for a promising path in the way of cannabis-derived medication.
Alcohol is associated with some health benefits, though. Moderate alcohol use can increase levels of HDL cholesterol, a good cholesterol that helps filter out the bad stuff. Additionally, certain types of alcohol carry their own unique benefits. Red wine is known to contain antioxidants, and some alcohol can reduce the risk of blood clotting.
It should be noted that these benefits are limited to those who drink in moderation. Heavy drinking is linked to depression, dementia, cardiovascular issues, and liver damage. Even still, experts say there is basically no safe level of alcohol consumption, as even light drinking can contribute to the development of certain cancers. Also, unlike cannabis, alcohol is a physically-addictive substance, making it even harder to quit once addicted.
On top of that, alcohol is more likely to make your behaviour unsafe. The tendency for people to engage in risky conduct when drunk is well-chronicled. Some examples include criminal behaviour, unsafe sex, and driving under the influence. Of course, it’s better to not have cannabis or alcohol before driving. However, drunk driving is far more dangerous, with some experts noting that high driving (while still unsafe) is safer than drunk driving.
Of course, cannabis isn’t without risk. Smoking leads to lung damage, and excessive use of THC can wreak havoc in ways ranging from anxiety to psychosis-related disorders. And just like alcohol, cannabis can have long-lasting effects on developing minds, so children and youth should stay away. Overall though, the negative effects of cannabis pale in comparison to those of alcohol.
So how much safer is cannabis than alcohol?
In terms of overdose potentiality, alcohol can be life-threatening. The CDC estimates somewhere between 88,000-95,000 die alcohol-related deaths each year. Cannabis, on the other hand, causes no deaths. Experts say that in order to die from cannabis overconsumption, one would need to consume astronomical amounts. We’re talking pounds and pounds of weed.
What about behind the wheel? While it is more difficult for experts to track metrics of cannabis impairment behind the wheel, alcohol is known to be the cause of 28% of vehicle deaths each year, which is over 10,000 people. It has been stated, however, that cannabis impairment increases the chance of a car crash by 83%. In comparison, alcohol increases that risk by over 2200%.
In terms of crime and violent behaviour, alcohol is repeatedly the most common offender. Cannabis, however, was not seen to promote violent behaviour. In fact, a study determined that men who use cannabis were the least likely to engage in domestic violence.
So overall, cannabis is definitely much safer than alcohol. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that all alcohol users are dangerous or unhealthy people. However, these facts should be noted, and will help break the stigma that some people still have regarding cannabis.
Wanna Learn More?
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Also, for those who might be re-examining their relationship with cannabis, check out this blog post on what to expect during a tolerance break.