Which do you think is worse for you: drinking whiskey or smoking weed? The marijuana vs alcohol debate has been going on for a while now, and many people find it tough to name a clear winner. Indeed, a lot of factors need to be analyzed to make a reasonable conclusion.
For example, both substances affect behavior, brain, and heart, and may cause an addiction. The adverse effect of alcohol on health is well-established, but how about marijuana? Is it worth replacing alcohol with marijuana? Let’s answer these questions right now.
Everyone knows that alcohol consumption is associated with numerous risks, including impaired cognitive function, liver disease, shorter life expectancy, and nerve damage. These risks translate into a heavy death toll; according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol leads to about 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost.
On the other hand, no deaths from marijuana overdose have been reported. However, this advantage over alcohol doesn’t mean that smoking marijuana is completely harmless. The right question to ask here is: how long does weed stay in your system? A person under influence can rather become out of touch with reality and take reckless actions and harm self rather than die from marijuana consumption.
Despite the research of health effects is still limited, there is some evidence connecting cannabis smoking to lung cancer. On the other hand, National Cancer Institute reports a strong association between alcohol and head, neck, and breast cancers.
Both marijuana and alcohol have a significant effect on the heart. For example, it is a known fact that heavy drinking leads to heart attacks. As for marijuana, heavy smokers also are at considerably higher risk for heart failure and stroke.However, although cannabis smoking affects the cardiovascular system by elevating blood pressure and increasing heart rate, a smoker cannot fatally overdose on weed like they can with alcohol.
The next important area of comparison is learning and memory. You probably heard the saying that drinking kills brain cells. Well, it rather causes damage than actually kills them, but this doesn’t change the fact that alcohol is highly dangerous. With marijuana, there is some evidence suggesting that frequent smokers who began the habit in their twenties developed learning deficits and other mental problems.
Lastly, let’s review the likelihood of addiction. While the risk of alcohol addiction is known and about 15 percent of regular drinkers develop it, there is a debate going on about how addictive marijuana is. However, latest calculations suggest that about 9 percent of regular marijuana smokers develop some level of dependence.
|Death||No reported deaths||About 88,000 per year|
|Cardiac Effects||– – –||– – –|
|Cancer Risk||Weak evidence, more
research is needed
|Strong association with
several types of cancer
|Cognitive Effects||Damage to brain cells||Cognitive deficits|
|Likelihood of Addiction||15 percent of users develop dependence||9 percent of users develop
Marijuana vs Alcohol: Final Verdict
Having reviewed the effect of marijuana and alcohol on health, it is clear that the latter is more dangerous than the former. However, it is still worth remembering that both of them can take a toll on the body and mind. Also, many effects of chronic marijuana use are not as well-established, so making a solid conclusion requires more research.
One should also remember that alcohol has no known medical use and very little benefits if consumed moderately. On the other hand, marijuana has a number of medical benefits, including control of pain and epileptic seizures, management of glaucoma, and a decrease of anxiety. So, for now, it seems that marijuana is less damaging than alcohol, but with more research, one
can expect that to change. Stay tuned.